Military Retirement

Update below

AP had this story up a few days ago.  It is difficult to count the ways this story is misleading.  First, here are the first two paragraphs:

It sounds like a pretty good deal: Retire at age 38 after 20 years of work and get a monthly pension of half your salary for the rest of your life. All you have to do is join the military.
As the nation tightens its budget belt, the century-old military retirement system has come under attack as unaffordable, unfair to some who serve and overly generous compared with civilian benefits.

By the use of the word “work” it is plainly obvious that the author has never served in the military and really has no clue as to what military service is all about.
One does not “work” for 20 years “and get a monthly pension of half your salary for the rest of your life.”
Does “work” mean being on call 24 hours a day?
Does “work” mean changing the drive motor on the ship’s radar antenna, up the main mast 60 feet at two in morning while at sea?
Does “work” mean spending 36 consecutive hours trying to repair the ship’s fathometer?
Does “work” mean being on the flight deck for 20 hours a day while holding flight operations (launching and recovering aircraft)?
Does “work” mean being away from your family and missing:
  • Anniversaries
  • Birthdays (spouse & children)
  • Holiday celebrations (Christmas, Rosh Hashanah, et cetera)
  • Graduations

Does “work” mean standing watches while underway in the Navy?  Six hours on watch and six hours off watch, every day for a 90-day submerged patrol on fast attack submarine.

Do you call that “work” or is it something well beyond “work” as you know it?  There is no such thing as a 40-hour work week.    There is NO overtime. It doesn’t make any difference if you were on the USS Enterprise on Yankee Station in the 1960s or in a sandbox in the Middle East during the last ten years.
Their report was strictly about dollars and cents, part of a review of Pentagon spending started under Defense Secretary Leon Panetta’s predecessor, Robert Gates.

Are we talking about “profit centers” here?  Is the military expected to show a profit?  Or is every military member supposed to be on perpetual deployment?

And they are saying that the military folks need to lower their expectations because the civilian work force is living on less?  Well, it wasn’t the military that made it more profitable for businessmen to ship jobs overseas.

And, yeah, they can retire after 20 years.  And some have been in a career field that has good paying jobs in the civilian world.  But what about those enlisted members that have a skill that is strictly military?  Such as a tank driver or an infantryman or the leader of a mortar squad.  What about the people that arm aircraft on the flight deck of a carrier or those that drive landing craft or those that operate the ship’s guns and torpedo tubes.

And when they retire after 20 years they get one half of their base pay.  They get zero percent of any of the allowances, such as housing for dependents,  allowance for not eating in the chow hall or for arduous sea-duty.

Bottom line is, if you want to break the military, if you truly want a second rate military then go ahead and mess with the retirement system.  If you want retired military living in abject poverty this is how you do it.

Actually, it would be a lot cheaper to hire a mercenary army from the Chinese.


Mrs. Chief weighed in on the extra burden spouses have to take on when the military member is on deployment.  Obligations similar to what a single parent would have to do, but with the added burden of worrying about a spouse that might be in harm’s way.

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