Yes, in fact, it is quite common in other rates. Hardly anyone gets to pick orders anymore. Some rates are on hold for months waiting for orders. It may be new to him, but is not unheard f whatsoever.
Previously, picking orders did happen more often. I did, but I went through my A school a long time ago. But we could only pick from a pool of orders set up for our class, and there were orders which lined up with some of our dream sheets. Unfortunately, that doesn't happen much anymore, the Navy simply can't offer that luxury.
It is frustrating to be told one thing and then have it not happen.
I called my detailer once and was offered "Diego Garcia, Diego Garcia or ... Diego Garcia". Yikes. But I met my husband there, so that was alright. (google it if you never heard of it, isolated duty in an island)
That is completely normal, the Navy can't just let everyone pick where they want to go or everyone would be in HI or FL.
I can understand why you are frustrated and why your son is angry- however, there are going to be a lot of unknowns for your son and "picking" orders is full of unknowns for anyone in the navy. The needs of the navy always come first, so whether or not you get to give inputs towards what type of orders you'd like, there is never any guarantees. My husband is currently working on getting his third set of orders after serving at two different sea commands. The first time he got orders, he got them the day before he graduated OCS and he had two days after graduation to get to Norfolk. The orders were for a job that he'd never heard of and hadn't been trained for- he did all of his training on the job. Oh, and in order to start that job, after getting to Virginia, he flew halfway across the world to a country I'd never heard of to meet the ship and join them on deployment. What a way to start your career in the navy! The second time he "picked" orders, he was able to submit a list of desired locations, jobs, and type of ship. We had orders to one command for his #2 job selection, on his #1 ship type, in his #1 location pick- or we did,for a few weeks, until the day after he came home from a 7 month deployment with his first command. That morning, the detailer called him to welcome him home and let him know, by the way, that there was an opening for someone with his training/qualifications that needed filled more quickly than his initial assignment, so his orders had been switched- and oh by the way, you'll need to leave sooner than originally planned. Another adventure! This time around, he is headed to a shore command, so we were given a list of 89 jobs, submitted a top 20, and are waiting to hear the results of where we will be moving sometime in the August timeframe, with the understanding that he could be given any of those 89 jobs, or something that wasn't on the list, as required by the needs of the navy.
For someone like me, who is a definite planner, and who has a professional career to think about and plan for (I am a veterinarian) you can imagine how frustrating this is for me. The phrase "I talked to my detailer today and..." is enough to make my heart start racing! But if I've learned anything from this, it's that the bottom line is wherever the navy sends my husband, he will have a job, he will have health insurance, and he will be doing is part to support what I see as one of the finest organizations in the world. If it's a job doing something he doesn't have experience in, he'll be trained by someone who does or they'll get him to school to give him a place to start. If you don't like what you're doing, the good news is, things are always changing in the military! Orders can be as short as a year or two (or less!) but are usually not much longer than 5 years, and there are ALWAYS chances for learning and education in the navy. You aren't locked in to do the same thing for the navy forever. If you don't like what you're doing, research opportunities for change, get your qualifications, make yourself a better sailor and then go after what you do want to be doing.
My husband's experience with getting orders has allowed him to have some wonderful opportunities and meet some fantastic mentors. The command he is at now is not one that was anywhere on his radar for a possible job for him- but it has been an amazing opportunity for professional and personal growth for him. He has gone places he never thought he would get to go. It has opened the doors to learning new skills. Doing jobs that have been different than the norm have made him a more diverse, well rounded person. If he had stayed in his comfort zone been given what he requested, who knows how it would have turned out.
When you join the military is that you are agreeing to serve- in whatever capacity the military needs you to. I know plenty of people who have had career changes within the navy, some by choice and some not. I would encourage your son to see this as an opportunity to try his hand at something new and if he doesn't like it, look at the many opportunities that are out there in the military for change. The navy will have lots of unknowns and bumps in the road, but I promise it has lots of rewards as well. I wish the very best to you and your son, and I hope that he will get orders that will provide him with lots of opportunity!!
I did not grow up military either, so I know what it's like to go into this with no idea of what to expect. My grandfather and his brothers all served (one was a POW in WWII) so I had a sense of pride in what our military does instilled in me, but no practical experience of what today's military is like and the day to day of it. I am sorry to hear that you had a bad experience with the Marines, but I do hope that this time around will give you and your family a better experience. It sounds like you have a nerve wracking few weeks ahead of you. With an attitude of I just want to help whoever or whatever it is, I bet he will get over his initial anger and disappointment once he has an assignment and can do his part. Hang in there- the hurry up and wait is tough!
Very well said!!! I commend you for taking time, effort and an energy to elaborate on a military life in a nutshell!!!! You included everything what a military life is all about, despite the position, ranks and professions. They all experience at one point or another the same as mentioned above!!! The military life is not for everyone, It is not about the benefits or what you get out of it. The faster anyone realizes that all of those goodies are only the byproducts of a very dedicated and hard work of those fine people, who decided to serve our country, to protect all of us against the enemy. I am also a very new military wife, but i have been with the federal government, as a professional, for many years. My life was very similar on a short notice i had to pack and go for shorter or longer periods of times, at the expense of my personal life. I am childless and now ended up with as a military wife. My husband is a lot younger and i am tired and do not want to move around anymore either. I told him if he does not get the orders to join me where i am now, i am simply not going anywhere. I am tired of moving around the country. I do respect his decision and feel very honored to be married to a military serviceman, but i am too old and tired to start moving all over again. I do believe in what our servicemen are doing and i am proud of my husband and everyone else who is putting their lives on the line for the citizens of our wonderful country the United States of America. However, i feel as i served already and i am ushering the path to a much younger generation, while i am retiring for a quieter and more peaceful life. This definitely will be a challenging time for our marriage, but i have already made up my mind that i am staying where i am at right now. I really hope that the service will award him with his pick, but if not, it will be very hard since i am not ready to follow and move around to be with my husband. I wish everyone all the best and hope that someday everyone would get what they want!!!! Most of all i wish everyone the mental and physical health as well as safety, In Solidarity, marika.
Nothing is ever 'guaranteed' with the military. When I graduated C school (13 years ago!) classes picked their orders based on their GPA, except for me. I was the only female in the class so when it came to pick mine I got bypassed and the guy with the absolute lowest score got to choose but I was given my orders based on the ratio of West Coast to East Coast. Trust me, he does not have it bad at all, he will be fine.
Saipan, right there with you! As a female EN, I was in the same boat as you. I just got told where I was going, as they base the females orders more on if there is a rack on the ship.
Just read your post and the responses. So sorry your son has not been given orders yet. I don't blame your son for being angry. I bet he wants to get his career going. One thing I've learned is that you have to be very flexible, open minded, and the famouse quote, "hurry up and wait".
Fortunately, my Son who is a Behavioral Health Tech, was able to be 1st pick for his orders when he completed C school in December 2011. He was one of the 1st classes for Corp A school and C school in San Antonio. He is in his 2nd year in Japan and extended for a 3rd. I will tell you, that my son really enjoys his job doing Behavioral health. I hope your son will be able to get assigned and get out of San Antonio.
Best of luck!