9 Signs You Work for the Department of Defense

Government pentagon

National Archives photo, released

According to Defense.gov, the Department boasts over 1.3 million men and women on active duty, 742,000 civilian personnel, and another 826,000 serving in the National Guard and Reserve forces, making it the nation’s largest employer. But sometimes our nation’s largest employer has some quirks. Not every agency is the same within the department, but most DoD employees can relate to things being a little special.
Here are nine signs you work for the DoD:

1) You can almost speak a full sentence using acronyms.

Anyone can throw out an IMHO, but a DoD employee can send out an FYSA email to a Lt Col (or LTC) with a BLUF, highlighting a JUON. The acronym list goes on, and when in doubt just check this DOD acronym list.

2) You have the joy of working in ancient or temporary buildings.

Some facilities have more rodents and mold than wall outlets. Not to worry. Those who have signed up to protect and defend the country are an adaptable lot and find workarounds with extension cords and mouse traps.

3) It can easily take 10 minutes to get from your vehicle to your desk.

In fact, if you’re at the Pentagon, walking to your desk can help you reach your steps goal for the day.

4) ‘Offsite retreat’ is just a figure of speech.

If you have an offsite retreat, you either meet onsite or at another DOD facility.

5) Creative language.

At any point in the day, you hear a bit of profanity, often used in unusual or creative ways.

6) You have more passwords than you can keep track of.

And you get to change them before you really get a chance to memorize them. Every year, your required password length seems to increase and more character restrictions are added.

7) You have explain to people why your agency keeps needing more money.

They don’t understand that protecting and defending the US doesn’t always mean WWIII is about to take place. And unlike the private sector, DoD budgets are major political fodder.

8)Rivalries are Real (Sort Of).

You have to manage the cultures and subcultures between federal employees, service members and contractors. Not to mention interservice rivalries.

9) The hardest part of work travel is DFAS.

Booking work travel is a frustrating process with about four or five approval levels. And getting reimbursed for travel expenses can sometimes require an act of Congress.

Despite all of its quirks and challenges, DoD employees are dedicated to the mission of the department. No matter where you are in the DoD, whether you are a federal employee, a contractor, or serve in a military branch, you play an important role in our nation’s safety and security. Some roles are more visible, but all work together.

Jillian Hamilton has worked in a variety of Program Management roles for multiple Federal Government contractors. She has helped manage projects in training and IT. She received her Bachelors degree in Business with an emphasis in Marketing from Penn State University and her MBA from the University of Phoenix.

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