I definitely recognize that there are reasons for going active duty that don't involve money. That said, the money, at least from my perspective, isn't close.
If I gave up my job as a GS-12 to become an O-3 in (presumably) the <2 years category, the base salary would be 48.5k. At PSNS, my pay was 75k. I recognize that there are a lot of extra benefits such as special pay categories, housing allowance, zero health premiums, and the GI bill, but even still, at best I estimate it would be a wash.
Plus, you can get housing allowance as a GS if you go overseas. Moving overseas allowed me to rent out my house for enough to cover the mortgage and the management fees, and now the service pays for the apartment that my wife and I live in. The housing situation that I have is better than what my O-5 boss has by far. However, I consider this a wash because I took a pay cut (loss of locality pay) to get over here.
I didn't know that you could start as an O-3. That makes it better. But I think I would have to see the same salary and a guaranteed placement in pilot school to make it worthwhile for me.
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