ManyAir Forcepilots are leaving the military for jobs with commercial airlines that pay better. Airman in other jobs have left with high hopes too, but some of them are finding they left a good thing.
Senior Airman Adonna King joined the Air Force when she was 18. She stayed for three years before leaving the military.
She then tried her hand as a cashier, a cook and at other minimum wage jobs. After years of frustration, she recently returned to her Air Force job as a cargo loader. She says the decision to rejoin was easy.
"The people, the pay, benefits, job security, everything," she said, "just knowing I have a steady paycheck coming in."
More former airman are doing the same thing. With their experience, they cannot always find good paying jobs with great benefits in the private sector.
In the last nine months, more than 400 former Air Force members have re-enlisted, which is up from 115 during all of last year.
The decision is not always about money. Staff Sergeant Paul Holland says he made about the same salary in a civilian job when he left the Air Force. "It's the lifestyle I missed the most," he said.
The communications technician did not like the competitiveness of the private sector. He has been back on duty for three months.
"In the civilian world, you had so many different characteristics, and in the Air Force it's more of a teamwork-like atmosphere," Holland said.
Because of the interest and need for experienced people, the Air Force recently opened up 99 positions returning airman can fill. Before that, there were just three specialties available.