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Technician Discussion (aka Wing XP Technician)

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Looking for any advice/insight on an offer I'm considering. I'm a DSG with full time orders in a program that doesn't have a certain future, but would most likely last at least 2-3 years. I'm still a ways off from retirement, ~14 years to go, O-3 looking to pin on O-4 next year. I've been offered the Wing XP position, but they are switching it from a AGR position to a Technician Position to save on resources. It will be a GS-13 position, not sure of what step. I'll maintain being a DSG with current unit and still drill and fly when able.
If anyone has any experience with any of these variable's to help me make a decision, I'd appreciate it. I don't think either scenario is bad, just want to see if there are any major gotcha's associated with any of this.

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2 of our last 4 have become a SQ/DO and a SQ/CC. Current one will likely be one in the future. I forgot about our Vice Wing CC, he was also the XP about 8 yrs or so ago.

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AGRs make more in their paychecks.

Technicians get to collect two federal retirements and can double dip throughout the year.

Both have their plusses and negatives but when you look at them on paper, over a career, the pay comes out about the same.

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Depends on what you want. Want to have to work until you are 57 then take the air tech job. You have to work until your MRA (minimum retirement age) if you want a decent retirement.

Is the pay the same? Absolutely not, neither is the retirement.

Me personally, the thought of working until I'm 57 at my guard unit makes me contemplate putting a large revolver in my mouth and pulling the trigger, but maybe your guard unit is better than mine.

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Depends on what you want. Want to have to work until you are 57 then take the air tech job. You have to work until your MRA (minimum retirement age) if you want a decent retirement.

Is the pay the same? Absolutely not, neither is the retirement.

Me personally, the thought of working until I'm 57 at my guard unit makes me contemplate putting a large revolver in my mouth and pulling the trigger, but maybe your guard unit is better than mine.

Sounds like a great unit :/ Federal retirement is nice. Edited by scoobs

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Federal retirement is nice.

It used to be nice when CSRS was around. Those days are gone.

Nowadays, at 1% per creditable year and a whopping 4.4% employee contribution (up from 0.8%) for those hired after January 2014; it's such a goddamn retirement paycut it's not even funny. And remember, the 5% TSP match is on your dime, so that's another paycut when compared to an airline B-fund. You know what the employee contribution for an AGR annuity is, right? I'll let ya figure out that math with your fingers. In addition, you get hit with the FEHB which isn't near as cheap as Tricare [standard/Reserve Select] for the equivalent benefit (80/20 coverage with sub 3k catastrophic cap and a deductible so low you frankly can't match it in the private marketplace), which you lose eligibility from as a civil servant.

To top it off, the FERS retirement annuity is penalized if you withdraw earlier than 62. You're gonna have to wait on your retirement money ANYWAYS between 57 and 62 (most people can't get to 30 years credit before MRA), unless you want to take a 25% retirement paycut (5% per year for every year younger than 62). Did I mention we're talking about a 1% pension?

Personally, I'm gonna try to hold on to the AGR as long as I can, though I suspect they'll kick me off the pot into the ART thing. I'm ok giving up airline seniority for an AGR paycheck and retirement. With that kind of check in hand, I can be whatever the hell I want to be, when I "grow up", airline or not. But for an ART compensation/retirement package? Hell no, it's just not worth it giving up a seniority number at a legacy airline for a measly 1% pension, an expensive health care option and a 90K job doing medically-unsustainable work until 57. ARTs are also vulnerable to AEF deployment cycles unless they're FTU or UPT units, so let's not kid ourselves with the home every night sales pitch.

1% decent retirement?...LOL. Said the very boomer CSRS-recepient who voted away my generation's retirement in the first place.

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To top it off, the FERS retirement annuity is penalized if you withdraw earlier than 62. You're gonna have to wait on your retirement money ANYWAYS between 57 and 62 (most people can't get to 30 years credit before MRA), unless you want to take a 25% retirement paycut (5% per year for every year younger than 62). Did I mention we're talking about a 1% pension?

Trying to understand all these numbers. I read this on View less

This is a provision that allows you to retire with benefits beginning immediately if you have ten years of service and have reached the Minimum Retirement Age (at least 55). However, the annuity is reduced for each month you are under age 62. The reduction equals five percent per year (or 5/12 of one percent per month). To avoid the reduction, you can postpone payment. You can later apply for the benefit by writing to us or filing an "Application for Deferred or Postponed Retirement," Form RI 92-19. You should submit the form two months before you want the benefit to begin.
------------------
So I'm guessing you're speaking from the perspective of being a Reserve baby who didn't buy back any Active Duty time? I don't know anything about your background, but from where I'm standing, there are scenarios where the ART job might make sense. Guaranteeing one retirement early in my career before pursuing airlines might be important later if I don't end up passing a flight physical all the way to age 65.
I do agree that starting an ART retirement with less than 20 years of credit, and starting that retirement earlier than age 60 incurs huge penalties. But for a guy with 20 years of federal service, I'm missing why you think it's obviously such a bad deal. School me, because all these rules confuse the shit out of me.

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ARTs are also vulnerable to AEF deployment cycles unless they're FTU or UPT units, so let's not kid ourselves with the home every night sales pitch.

The KC-10 ARTs in our WG (can't speak for the C-17 bubbas) were briefed a few years ago, by our then-new WG/CC (an ART himself), that the ARTs would NOT deploy; they were "too important" to leave home station for those extended periods of time. Keep in mind we're talking standard KC-10 deployments, so the time involved ain't too bad.

He then promptly took a 179 to the Deid for himself.

A handful of our ARTs have deployed since that briefing, but they've all said that the asspain they went through to get WG/CC approval was ludicrous. Not to mention the catch-up ball they have to play when they get back to their office jobs post-deployment...

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They got rid of the 3% match towards your TSP? How many employers actually have a defined retirement plan? Most of the ones I have seen have gone to a 401k only plan. The way I looked at it was the Annuity was an added bonus to your 401k.

Edited by scoobs

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They got rid of the 3% match towards your TSP? How many employers actually have a defined retirement plan? Most of the ones I have seen have gone to a 401k only plan. The way I looked at it was the Annuity was an added bonus to your 401k.

No they didn't. The first 3% pays dollar per dollar matching, the next 2% pays 50 cents on the dollar.

FERS-RAE (those hired after Jan 2014) the employees contribute 4.4% and the gov contributes 12.6%

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Trying to understand all these numbers. I read this on View less

This is a provision that allows you to retire with benefits beginning immediately if you have ten years of service and have reached the Minimum Retirement Age (at least 55). However, the annuity is reduced for each month you are under age 62. The reduction equals five percent per year (or 5/12 of one percent per month). To avoid the reduction, you can postpone payment. You can later apply for the benefit by writing to us or filing an "Application for Deferred or Postponed Retirement," Form RI 92-19. You should submit the form two months before you want the benefit to begin.
------------------
So I'm guessing you're speaking from the perspective of being a Reserve baby who didn't buy back any Active Duty time? I don't know anything about your background, but from where I'm standing, there are scenarios where the ART job might make sense. Guaranteeing one retirement early in my career before pursuing airlines might be important later if I don't end up passing a flight physical all the way to age 65.
I do agree that starting an ART retirement with less than 20 years of credit, and starting that retirement earlier than age 60 incurs huge penalties. But for a guy with 20 years of federal service, I'm missing why you think it's obviously such a bad deal. School me, because all these rules confuse the shit out of me.

The math is simple. A 2.5% multiplier annuity payable in my 40s based off DFAS tables is leaps and bounds a much more lucrative deal than a FERS 1% multiplier payable at 62 based off GS SSR tables (or worse, slick GS tables due to the high probability one cannot medically finish civil service as an ART to 57) for my qualifying military service. So much so, that it becomes the difference between being able to retire to a lifestyle I can enjoy versus not being able to make black on the same amount of working life invested. To me, that's a critical difference since I am the primary breadwinner. I don't know how else to explain the math difference for ya. If your personal circumstances make a 40% annuity cut for 10 more years worked mere chump change because you have a high earning spouse or otherwise are not the primary breadwinner, then that's cool; I'm limiting my comments to my circumstance.

If Uncle Sam shorts me the opportunity of an AGR retirement and considering I'm going to get Social Security and a Reserve retirement whether I'm an ART or a Walmart greeter anyways, the question then becomes what is a more lucrative avenue in order for me to attain my retirement goals: ART or airlines. Without a doubt, an airline that offers a 10%+ B-fund at present rate narrowbody FO rates, offers off-the-charts better return than a GS-13 ART job. If the ART job was CSRS, then the math for me would favor ART for the opportunity cost of furlough/income loss at the airline to me. But under FERS, at 1%, it's game over, no contest, the airline is better. I'd love to enjoy the higher time at home an ART could potentially offer, but not at a 40% annuity reduction from AGR retirement or airline/TR combo retirement. I can always go back and get me that FAA ASI/post office job if the airline lottery fizzles, but I'd be remiss if I were to balk on the opportunity to make that kind of coin for my family and my solvency in retirement if Uncle Sam is going to jip me off an AD annuity anyways. As always, to each their own.

Clear as mud?

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Hindsight,

Thanks for the breakdown. The details are about as clear as mud, but the overall logic and the breakdown of your thoughts is appreciated.

So in the scenario I'm considering, I'd be starting an ART job with the ability to buy back 16 years and 3 mos of federal service. Although I'd need less than 5 years to get to 20 good years, I'd have to serve as an ART for the 5-year federal minimum after buying my time back, then proceed to airlines and continue as TR until age 57.

My basic fork in the road is this: work the ART job for the 5 year min to qual for the GS retirement, then proceed to airlines while working TR; or just stay TR and get into the airlines 5 years earlier. Good problems for me to have, I'm not complaining. Seems like both can be great in their own way.

The overall financial analysis clearly states that going to the airlines early is always more profitable. But I'm leaving active duty to stop chasing the dollar sign. I will not stay on AD simply to slug out a shitty QOL to get to that LtC retirement. I can't buy happiness. I can only make decisions that put me in a position that makes sense; hence, leaving AD as soon as possible. I figure if I continue to make decisions purely based on making the most money, that just puts me in the mercenary category.

I know there are different 'right' decisions for each guy, his family, and his respective situation. I don't think there is a one size fits all great answer to the dream job or the dream life. Thanks for sharing your take on the whole thing. This Reserve/Guard/Fed Service maze is a difficult one to navigate. Maybe I should have searched for a thread to start this conversation... there are definitely some nuggets that need to get pinned at the top of the forum. I'm not the first and certainly won't be the last guy to ask these questions.

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Hindsight,

Thanks for the breakdown. The details are about as clear as mud, but the overall logic and the breakdown of your thoughts is appreciated.

So in the scenario I'm considering, I'd be starting an ART job with the ability to buy back 16 years and 3 mos of federal service. Although I'd need less than 5 years to get to 20 good years, I'd have to serve as an ART for the 5-year federal minimum after buying my time back, then proceed to airlines and continue as TR until age 57.

My basic fork in the road is this: work the ART job for the 5 year min to qual for the GS retirement, then proceed to airlines while working TR; or just stay TR and get into the airlines 5 years earlier. Good problems for me to have, I'm not complaining. Seems like both can be great in their own way.

The overall financial analysis clearly states that going to the airlines early is always more profitable. But I'm leaving active duty to stop chasing the dollar sign. I will not stay on AD simply to slug out a shitty QOL to get to that LtC retirement. I can't buy happiness. I can only make decisions that put me in a position that makes sense; hence, leaving AD as soon as possible. I figure if I continue to make decisions purely based on making the most money, that just puts me in the mercenary category.

I know there are different 'right' decisions for each guy, his family, and his respective situation. I don't think there is a one size fits all great answer to the dream job or the dream life. Thanks for sharing your take on the whole thing. This Reserve/Guard/Fed Service maze is a difficult one to navigate. Maybe I should have searched for a thread to start this conversation... there are definitely some nuggets that need to get pinned at the top of the forum. I'm not the first and certainly won't be the last guy to ask these questions.

Kenny,

Your personal case study is vastly different than the scenario I was alluding to, that is, the proposition of sticking out an ART job until 57 in lieu of an active duty retirement or an airline job. With 16 years of Active Duty service, you are in a much different position and thus the opportunity cost of qualifying all that credit service time towards a FERS annuity with a mere 5 years is not terrible at all. Considering that same AD time will qualify you for a very decent Reserve retirement, your only opportunity cost is the lost seniority of 5 years and the impact that would have in your lifestyle at home as an airline pilot. That's more of a personal contention QOL-wise and only you can figure out what's best for you and your family.

Another option you might want to entertain, is the proposition of tooth-n-nail your way into an active duty annuity via troughing. I've seen it done by several Reservists. Hard to do, but you can't help but slow-clap for the guy when he hits sanctuary as a trougher. The Reserves will fight you every step of the way to ensure you don't get there, but it's not impossible. Many furloughed 9/11 era pilots have done it; trough their asses off, keeping the now almost decade old seniority number at legacy while making every manday USERRA exempt (i.e. doesn't count against the 5 year cumulative limit), get to the brass ring, get paid right meow and bam! Recalled to the mainline job with 10 years seniority. Again, like I said before, fvking #winning. THAT option would be more lucrative than just vesting your AD years with the requisite 5 years of civil service (via ART or otherwise).

Either way, you're in a good place, you'll get paid for those AD years one way or another. Good luck to you in whatever lifestyle choice you end up making. I'm very much a QOL over money guy too, so I completely relate to why a 16 year guy would pull chocks even though economically it would be much more lucrative to stay the course. Life's too short to be miserable for the latter 2/3rds of a military so-called career.

Happy New Year to you and your loved ones and everybody stay safe out there on the friendly and unfriendly skies alike!

:cheers:

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Thanks a ton Hindsight. That makes a lot of sense to me.

If you're still willing to keep schooling... why do I always hear that the sweetspot for retiring as both a TR and GS is age 57? From everything I've read on opm.gov, age 60 is the starting point for those retirements. I've seen the memo where Reservists on Active Duty man days can draw that age down in 90 day increments to a minimum of age 50. I've also read that if you draw your min retirement age (MRA) down to somewhere in your 50s, that the medical portion of the retirement always begins as age 60.

So why wouldn't it be better to just draw that MRA down as low as possible and start collecting money for doing nothing?

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Thanks a ton Hindsight. That makes a lot of sense to me.

If you're still willing to keep schooling... why do I always hear that the sweetspot for retiring as both a TR and GS is age 57? From everything I've read on opm.gov, age 60 is the starting point for those retirements. I've seen the memo where Reservists on Active Duty man days can draw that age down in 90 day increments to a minimum of age 50. I've also read that if you draw your min retirement age (MRA) down to somewhere in your 50s, that the medical portion of the retirement always begins as age 60.

So why wouldn't it be better to just draw that MRA down as low as possible and start collecting money for doing nothing?

The 90-day chunk manday reduction pertains to a specific subset of manday orders and only draws down the payment of the Reserve annuity, not a civil service one I believe. 57 is a magic number only in that it is the civilian MRA for those hired after whatever the year is (I don't have it in front of me). Have you tried working an ART to 60? LOL I say that again, in half jest at it is clear I've already made my feelings towards the proposition of flying military rickety jets until age 57-60 known.

You're unlikely to reduce a reserve retirement payout date 10 years brother; the policy change was made effective circa 2008 if I recall when the memo hit my old squadron way back when. Still, good thought process.

I don't know the answer to the medical portion. I'd have to dig into that one.

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I tell anyone that is considering to being an ART....take the the job and consider it something to substitute your guard/reserve bumming. In other words, get as many days as you can, then work your tech job in the off days. The military retirement is far superior than anything technician related, .60 cents per day for an O-5 for each day you do now, do the math and you'll see why being an air tech is a horrible pay/retirement system.

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Hindsight,

Thanks for the breakdown. The details are about as clear as mud, but the overall logic and the breakdown of your thoughts is appreciated.

So in the scenario I'm considering, I'd be starting an ART job with the ability to buy back 16 years and 3 mos of federal service. Although I'd need less than 5 years to get to 20 good years, I'd have to serve as an ART for the 5-year federal minimum after buying my time back, then proceed to airlines and continue as TR until age 57.

My basic fork in the road is this: work the ART job for the 5 year min to qual for the GS retirement, then proceed to airlines while working TR; or just stay TR and get into the airlines 5 years earlier. Good problems for me to have, I'm not complaining. Seems like both can be great in their own way.

The overall financial analysis clearly states that going to the airlines early is always more profitable. But I'm leaving active duty to stop chasing the dollar sign. I will not stay on AD simply to slug out a shitty QOL to get to that LtC retirement. I can't buy happiness. I can only make decisions that put me in a position that makes sense; hence, leaving AD as soon as possible. I figure if I continue to make decisions purely based on making the most money, that just puts me in the mercenary category.

I know there are different 'right' decisions for each guy, his family, and his respective situation. I don't think there is a one size fits all great answer to the dream job or the dream life. Thanks for sharing your take on the whole thing. This Reserve/Guard/Fed Service maze is a difficult one to navigate. Maybe I should have searched for a thread to start this conversation... there are definitely some nuggets that need to get pinned at the top of the forum. I'm not the first and certainly won't be the last guy to ask these questions.

FWIW, I've seen projections that seniority at Delta will go up over 3000 numbers in 7 years. So by waiting, you'd be roughly 20% lower on the pilot list. Delta is just one example; I believe American and United will actually build seniority even faster.

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Closer, I see that point. For a pure Reserve baby who will take X number of actual years to get 20 years of points, that is a valid argument. For a guy coming off active duty who will buy back a number of years, it might make more sense as a short term solution to knock out a 'quick' retirement. For any AFA grads, that time counts as federal service, so there's 4 more years of potential buyback credit. And to make it even more like stealing, the pay calculation is something like 3% per year based on the actual pay table you experienced during that time. Don't know if I remember this correctly, but I think AFA cadets get some percentage of an E-5's salary while going to school there. So you're paying peanuts to get huge credit for 4 years that would otherwise be lost time. Anybody with experience care to shed some light on those numbers?

Another perspective from a guy coming off active duty: I've been doing involuntary (with one exception) PCSs my entire career. Doing 4-5 years of technician right off the bat as I transition to the ARC is just another PCS to me; doesn't seem like a huge deal. I'm used to getting shit on by AD leadership & assignments anyway. I've now chosen my final base because it's a place I WANT to be, not a trudge induced by the faceless AFPC machine. Shit, there's an outside chance I might enjoy doing the job that I CHOSE in the location I CHOSE.

It's a foreign concept for active duty guys. For the longest time, I niavely put my financial future into two basic tracks: Stick it out on AD and get the magical AD/AGR retirement, or just give up on a pension entirely and move in a different direction, hoping my investment decisions were adequate. I thought that because I was ignorant of the ways of the ARC. Every time some Reserve or Guard guy took time to explain the pay and retirement system to me, it was overwhelming and it looked like a whole lot of work and a lot of extra years (compared to AD) to successfully get the pension. Glad I stopped thinking like a third grader and started examining the options in detail.

Still confusing as hell, but I'm a slow learner, so I'm used to it. Just give me a 1% grade on the ole learning curve, and I'll stay happy.


FWIW, I've seen projections that seniority at Delta will go up over 3000 numbers in 7 years. So by waiting, you'd be roughly 20% lower on the pilot list. Delta is just one example; I believe American and United will actually build seniority even faster.

I'm hearing/seeing the same absorption rate.

However, I'm absolutely done making decisions in the constant fear of deceleration. Active Duty over the years has shown me that leadership wants me to think that I'm always on the cusp of being the next big thing, always about to be a big deal. The shit sickens me looking back, because my dumb ass totally bought it for a number of years. Jumping into the airlines for fear that my yet to be determined line number will never be high enough falls into that category for me.

I will not make decisions today because I might miss out on some unseen promotion, or some uncalculated amount of future earnings. That doesn't mean that I'll live in squalor with my morals intact. It means I might actually be able to slow down, be happy, have a family life and see what develops vice forcing every new situation like it's the only possible scenario where I will be rich, famous, and happy. I speak only for myself of course. The last couple years on AD have harshly taught me some difficult truths.

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. I've now chosen my final base because it's a place I WANT to be, not a trudge induced by the faceless AFPC machine. Shit, there's an outside chance I might enjoy doing the job that I CHOSE in the location I CHOSE.

It took me a couple of years in the ANG to fully appreciate this, but it is a difference in perspective people on AD will never know.

However, I'm absolutely done making decisions in the constant fear of deceleration. Active Duty over the years has shown me that leadership wants me to think that I'm always on the cusp of being the next big thing, always about to be a big deal. The shit sickens me looking back, because my dumb ass totally bought it for a number of years.

I fell into that trap as well. The AD thrives off squeezing every ounce out of its people with the promise of future gains, at the expense of your family, friends, hobbies, and own well being. Is it worth it? In today's environment of no transparency or loyalty on the part of leadership, helllll no!

Jumping into the airlines for fear that my yet to be determined line number will never be high enough falls into that category for me.

At least with the airlines, they are contractually obligated to advance you in seniority order. There is no thinly veiled promise of being the next big thing. Just show up, do your job well, and go home. You'll get advancement in due time.

I will not make decisions today because I might miss out on some unseen promotion, or some uncalculated amount of future earnings. That doesn't mean that I'll live in squalor with my morals intact. It means I might actually be able to slow down, be happy, have a family life and see what develops vice forcing every new situation like it's the only possible scenario where I will be rich, famous, and happy. I speak only for myself of course. The last couple years on AD have harshly taught me some difficult truths.

Sounds like a good plan. After guard bumming for years, I can tell you that there's something to be said for slowing down to smell the roses. Especially after having your balls dragged through the dirt for years on AD.
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A couple of folks mentioned a 5 year minimum for federal retirement. Is that just as an ART or for any GS employee? I haven't been able to find anything. As far as I could tell I could sell back my 12 years of active duty and spend a year as a GS and bam, retirement eligible when I hit 62. Seems too easy though.

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Buy back time doesn't count toward the 5 year minimum.

Where does it say that? I haven't been able to find it.

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Buy back time doesn't count toward the 5 year minimum.

This statement is confusing.

When you leave Active Duty, you can 'buy back' all that time to then count toward your civilian federal retirement. Example, you had 12 years on Active Duty and you buy that time back, it will now count simultaneously for the civilian ART/GS job, and for the traditional military job. The time automatically counts toward your military Reserve retirement, but you have to 'buy back' the time in order for it to count for a second federal service retirement (GS/ART).

You have to serve as an ART for a minimum of 5 years in order to qualify for retirement. This makes a bit of sense to me. Or else I'd buy back 19 years and 11 mos, serve as an ART for 1 month, then laugh all the way to the bank. The 5-year min allows me to give them some work, and pay the nominal amount into FEHRS during that time.

But I guess the above statement IS technically correct. You can only buy back Federal Service time before you started the ART job. Obviously you're getting credit for serving as an ART. jcollins, care to expand?

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