Change can be daunting, especially for those transitioning from a military career to civilian employment. A new role, new location and new mission can feel overwhelming, even for veteran pilots accustomed to life untethered.
Chenega Federal Systems (CFS) is proud to provide a home for our former airmen, and a team who understands them.
Many of our employees are retired military, and we appreciate the issues most important to our veterans—the questions that might arise, the concerns they might have, and even the uncertainties they might face. We know how to welcome and support our fellow warriors, who have served our country so well for so long.
In Part 2 of our PACAF series, our instructor pilots share their personal experiences transitioning out of the military into their careers with Chenega, and what they enjoy most about their new roles.
Eugene “Doc” Dougherty, A-10C Lead Contract Instructor Pilot
Osan Air Base, Pyeongtaek, South Korea
“You’re home every night. You leave your work at work…Best of all, you’ll never get bored.”
When our pilots are coming up on separation, I often remind them of all the benefits my job with Chenega offers, especially compared to the airline industry. You’re home every night. You leave your work at work—no extra assignments during your time off. Plus, your total compensation, generous benefits package, and foreign earned income exclusion, make for a very appealing opportunity.
Best of all, you’ll never get bored. Even when you run the same scenario, each pilot reacts differently, and it’s your job to capture that performance and offer instruction for improvement. There’s no better reward than knowing you helped hone these pilots’ skills and increase the combat capability of USAF.
Barry “Yak” Luff, F-15C Lead Contract Instructor Pilot
Kadena Air Base, Okinawa, Japan
“There are tons of benefits, if you take advantage of them.”
Chenega has done right by me, from the overseas compensation package to the unwavering support. When you need something, you don’t have to wade through layers of bureaucracy; Chenega usually solves your issues within 24 hours. When I transitioned to Kadena, I didn’t have to worry about moving restrictions, travel expenses, or any of those headaches. Chenega makes the reimbursement process simple and straightforward, with a reasonable turnaround time.
There are tons of benefits, if you take advantage of them. You have access to all base services, which are pretty extensive between multiple island bases. If you have your kids with you, Chenega funds DoDDS schools or off-base multicultural schooling. Personally, it’s the perfect opportunity to see the world. Mainland Japan, Southeast Asia and Australia are just a quick connection away.
James Sage, F-22 Lead Simulator Instructor Pilot
Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Honolulu, Hawaii
“I can honestly say it’s the best job I’ve ever had.”
When I first started, I was concerned about making the transition to the contracting world. Now, after three years, I can honestly say it’s the best job I’ve ever had. From the day I was hired, Chenega made my transition so easy, and they’ve treated me well ever since. I’m incredibly thankful for my job—great company, excellent pay and benefits, and very rewarding work.
As a simulator instructor, I wondered if the job would ever feel boring or repetitive. Not at all. It’s very technically complex, and there are always new skills to learn and improve. It’s so rewarding to teach these young pilots emergency procedures and tactics, to watch them progress through their training and know that you played a part in their combat readiness. Our squadrons often will return from deployment and thank Team Sim for preparing them so well with our realistic training.
Richard “Pitot” Utecht, F-16 Contract Instructor Pilot
Kunsan Air Base, Gunsan, South Korea
“At the end of the day, it comes down to excellent quality of life, compensation and job satisfaction.”
Chenega has always been a great company to work for, in every role I’ve performed. Leadership has a high level of integrity and approachability, and I feel they always listen and take my concerns seriously. Throughout my career, Chenega has gone above and beyond for my family and me.
Admittedly, certain instructor roles may be based in locations not ideally suited for some families. But Chenega has always provided tailored compensation packages that more than make up for it. At the end of the day, it comes down to excellent quality of life, compensation and job satisfaction. Chenega takes care of its people. Getting to work with current USAF pilots to hone their skills is the cherry on top of the sundae.
John Wilson, F-22 Simulator Instructor Pilot
Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Honolulu, Hawaii
“My job is like being a tactical major for life, but with better pay and benefits and without the queep.”
Three days before my official retirement from the military, I stepped into my new role with Chenega and I’ve never regretted it. I’ve had a terrific experience with Chenega, leadership and my team. Management is very hands off and supportive of our mission.
Honestly, my job is like being a tactical major for life, but with better pay and benefits and without the queep [annoying bureaucracy]. It’s immensely satisfying when the pilots you trained go 26 for 26 at Combat Hammer and 14 for 14 at Combat Archer. We call the sim facility our dojo, and watching our team become better and more lethal never, ever gets old.