Military Retirement Overhaul

The Defense Business Board wants to do away with the pension at 20 years.

The Defense Business Board has recommended a radical overhaul of the military retirement system.

Army Times: DoD panel calls for radical retirement overhaul

A sweeping new plan to overhaul the Pentagon’s retirement system would give some benefits to all troops and phase out the 20-year cliff vesting system that has defined military careers for generations.

In a massive change that could affect today’s troops, the plan calls for a corporate-style benefits program that would contribute money to troops’ retirement savings account rather than the promise of a future monthly pension, according to a new proposal from an influential Pentagon advisory board.

All troops would receive the yearly retirement contributions, regardless of whether they stay for 20 years. Those contributions might amount to about 16.5 percent of a member’s annual pay and would be deposited into a mandatory version of the Thrift Savings Plan, the military’s existing 401(k)-style account that now does not include government matching contributions.

A critical new feature would adjust those contributions to give more money to troops who deploy frequently, accept hardship assignments or serve in high-demand jobs. It would also give the services a new lever to incentivize some troops to leave or stay on active duty longer.

The new proposal was unveiled July 21 by the Defense Business Board, the wellspring for many cost-saving initiatives adopted by the Defense Department in recent years. The new retirement plan would mark the biggest change in military retirement in more than 60 years and require approval from Congress.

“The current system is unfair, unaffordable and inflexible,” said Richard Spencer, a former finance executive and Marine Corps pilot who led the board’s eight-month retirement study.

This alternative plan would “enhance the ability of the service member to build a meaningful retirement asset [with] complete flexibility for their lifestyle or desires,” Spencer said.


Unlike other proposals to overhaul military retirement that would grandfather current troops, the board suggests that DoD could make an “immediate” transition to the new system, which would affect current troops quite differently depending on their years of service:

• Recruits. The newest troops out of boot camp after the proposed change would have no direct incentive to stay for 20 years and would not get a fixed-benefit pension. Instead, they would receive annual contributions to a Thrift Savings Plan account and could leave service with that money at any time — although under current rules, they can’t withdraw the money until age 59½ without paying a penalty, except in certain specified circumstances.

• Five years of service. Troops would immediately begin accruing new benefits in a TSP account. If they remained in service until the “old vesting date” — the 20-year mark — they also would get one-fourth of the “old plan benefit,” or about 12 percent of their pay at retirement, as an annuity. If they separated, for example, after 10 years, they would walk away with no fixed-pension benefit but would have a TSP account with five years of contributions.

• 10 years of service. Troops would immediately begin accruing new benefits in a TSP account. If they remained in service for 10 more years, they would receive half of the “old plan benefit,” about 25 percent of their pay at retirement, as an annuity. If they separated after 15 years, they would walk away with no fixed-pension benefit but would have a TSP account with five years of contributions.

• 15 years of service. Troops would immediately begin accruing new benefits in a TSP account. If they remained in service for five more years, they would receive three-fourths of the “old plan benefit,” about 37.5 percent of their pay at retirement, as an annuity.

• 20 years and beyond. Troops who stayed in past 20 years would continue to receive annual TSP contributions.

For those unfamiliar with the current system, after 20 years of service, service members are eligible to retire and immediately begin drawing 50 percent of their base pay for life. For each additional years of service, up to 30, they earn an additional 2.5 percent.  Those who serve 30 years or more draw 75 percent for life.

There have been several short-lived experiments with changing the system. In the late 1980s, they went to a system that only paid 40 percent at 20 years and then an additional 3.5 percent thereafter, so that it would still reach 75 percent at 30 years.  They went back to the standard system pretty quickly.

Is it “fair” to give people no retirement benefits if they only stay a few years? Well, no. But the whole point was to incentivize good soldiers to stay in beyond their first tour. The military needs a large number of young people and a decreasing number of people up the rank pyramid. So, a system that encourages people to stay in until their late 30s (for enlisted) or early 40s (for officers) makes a lot of sense.

This particular reform plan seems aimed more at saving money than at “fairness” or “flexibility.” Essentially, it would screw people who made the decision to remain in the service for 20 years at least partly on the basis of a pretty sweet pension at the end of the rainbow. Indeed, while it’s pretty hard to sue the federal government and even harder for soldiers to sue the military, I’d think they’d have a pretty strong breach of contract suit. So, at a minimum, this would have to be phased in beginning with new accessions with existing personnel given various options.

Certainly, paying hordes of people large sums of money for decades after they have left the service is a hard model to sustain. The 20 year pension was not a big deal until the Reagan era, when military pay started to skyrocket. Nowadays, though, soldiers make pretty good money. And someone retiring at 38 or 42 can expect to live another 40 years or so–twice as long as he served in the military!

That’s unsustainable and, well, you know what they say about things which are unsustainable.

Then again, over the last 20 years, our soldiers have been almost constantly deployed into hardship and hostile fire areas. It’s going to be mighty difficult to get people to stay around for more than a couple tours of that–long after the thrill is gone–on the basis of drawing from a pension plan when they turn 59 or whatever. The immediacy of the military pension was its chief draw, after all.

Presumably, the most enthusiastic soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines are likely to stay on. We’re likely not going to run off our future flag officers and E-9s. But we may well run off a lot of captains and staff sergeants who would otherwise have stayed on to become lieutenants colonel and E-8s. More to the point, we may well have to instead promote mediocrities who saw no better option than putting up with the military in their place.

Proposals like the one on the table here have to be given serious consideration. But fixing this problem is not without risk to our ability to field an effective force with strong mid-level leadership.

via James Gerrond (JimmySky) and Brynn (FrostinaDC)

FILED UNDER: Uncategorized, , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. DC Loser says:

    This is analogous to the change in civil service retirement in 1983 when the old employer funded (no employee contribution) Civil Service Retirement System was phased out and a new Federal Employee Retirement System was instituted. FERS provided a partial employer funded retirement annuity, coupled with an employee funded TSP with limited matching by the empolyer, and lastly social security (CSRS employees were exempt from SS withholding). I wish they had the partial pension when I was around (I stayed in 11 years).

  2. James Joyner says:

    @DC Loser: And what a sea change that was. Indeed, since it coincided with a blossoming on the uniformed side, we had a flip flop. Whereas civil service made slightly better money and had really generous pensions (albeit at a later age) under the old system, the civil service became the worst of both worlds. Now, a DoD civilian makes radically less than his uniformed equivalent and gets a lousy retirement to boot.

  3. DC Loser says:

    Not to mention that when Congress repealed the double dipping rule for military retirees to jump into high grade CS jobs with no loss of retirement, that effectively placed a glass ceiling on career CS employees, especially in the DoD. I regularly see retired O-5 and O-6s come back as GS-14, 15s and SES, shutting out qualified career CS employees who worked their way up to the glass ceiling. The good ol’ boy/girl network is alive and well in the DoD.

  4. JKB says:

    Well the real difference is the military system is designed to dump out most after their productive years with skills that aren’t always transferable to the private sector. Some find places but the majority are trying to start new careers at 40, which is just as your employability slows down if you aren’t already established.

    This would be a good way to make it harder to get shooters in the combat arms and to keep them after they hit 30-35, mid career, mid rank, experienced. Although, if we keep the economy in the toilet that will go a long way to incentivize staying.

  5. If I was still in, I’d be hitting 12 years in December. I’d be absolutely infuriated. The main reason I got out was because they wouldn’t let me cross-rate (Navy), though hating it also kinda hurt. Simply put, if I would have stayed in beyond my four years, it would have ONLY been so I could retire at 20. This would be a breach of everything they told us going in, as you’d be well aware, James. The fact that they’re willing to do this so fast – a near immediate turnaround – is also infuriating; I wish the rest of our paperwork went this fast.

    Even as someone no longer enlisted, it sickens me to see just what the government really thinks of us when they’re not using us to shield their policies. Support the troops, my ass.

  6. James Joyner says:

    @Christopher Bowen: I should stress that this is just a proposal, not policy. Congress will have to pass this, and that’s far from a certainty; indeed, I think it unlikely.

    But the motivation behind this is real: The current plan just doesn’t work in an era when military pay is competitive and people draw retirement pay for decades.

  7. RM says:

    All the descriptions of military retirements seem to focus on the young age (20 years of service, ~ age 40+) at which soldiers may retire. They forget that,with a few specialized exceptions (full professors at military academies, flag officers, etc) everyone MUST retire at 30 years of service ( age ~50+).

    Starting a new career at age 50 is always challenging, especially in these economic times. Civil service employees can pretty much stay on the job for life.

    As far as comparing active duty and civil service/DOS employees, part of the reason for a pension immedialtely after service has been the conditions under which soldiers serve. I haven’t seen many examples of forced transfers every 2-3 years or mandatory combat/hardship tours in civil service or State. Even though they supposedly require SES employees to be mobile, I’ve never seen a forced transfer of one.

  8. Rock says:

    People tend to forget that military retirees are subject to recall to active duty at any time after retirement. How much is that worth?

  9. Scott Gunderson says:

    Really? Really? Comparing government civilian jobs to military? I have been forced to move 3 times in the past five years. I just lost $100,000 last year on a house in Texas with no “buy-back” program. I have been deployed away from my wife and children for 5 years out of the last ten. I am now in the Middle East for 2 years living in a dusty “_hit hole”. With all of the money I have lost moving every two years-three years (and as a pilot, I move a lot), I have nothing left but my retirement to depend on.

  10. michael reynolds says:

    My dad retired at age 39.

    Retired. At 39.

    I’m 57 tomorrow. This September will mark 41 years in the labor force. I’ll likely never retire.

    Now, against that, my old man did two tours in Vietnam and I did, um, zero. But let’s stop pretending that soldiers are draftees: they choose the career. Is it wonderful that they do? Yes. Are they often heroic? Of course.

    But 39? Seriously?

  11. Jacob Deeds says:

    @michael reynolds: I don’t blame you for your question and I think that most think the same thing at these difficult budget times. I’ve been in the Army 9 years and every year I’ve been in the Army, we have been at war. I’ve done 2 deployments and getting ready to leave for my 3rd tour in the middle east(3 is nothing compared to many in the Army). We stay because of the financial opportunities it affords our families, such as the ability to retire early and start a new career. That’s it, plain and simple. Without these benefits, why would I stay? I do anesthesia and can make much more money on the “outside”. However, to retire(I say this loosely because I wont actually quit working) at age 43 is the only way I can justify weighing the risk with the benefit. Thanks for saying what you did though. Many people I know think this but few would say it on a public forum.

  12. Richard Gardner says:

    The 50% pension only applies to those that entered the service before ~1980. After that it is the high-three rule, and it is based on “base pay” (half of the pay is BAQ, BAS, special pays, and do not count) This means that someone retiring at 20 years is maybe getting 25% of what they were making before retirement. 75% at 30 years is about 45%.

    Meanwhile California Police/Firemen can retire at 30 with full pay based on their total take home pay of their last year.

  13. James Joyner says:

    @michael reynolds: My dad retired from the Army at 39, too. It wasn’t nearly enough to live on, so he kept working.

    @Richard Gardner: But “high 3” really isn’t that big a difference for most people than their current base year. You have to have a couple years in grade to retire at that level, so it’s really a matter of losing a little bit of COLA money. And, presumably, you’d draw based on the pay at 18 years in service, since the modest bump that comes with 20 years wouldn’t have kicked in.

    I’m not sure how you’re calculating percentages. Aside from maybe physicians, who’s making roughly as much in incentive and specialty pay as their base pay? For most, it’s a modest stipend–which is, bizarrely, not considered taxable income.

    30 year, full-pay retirement for police and fire is a pretty good deal, indeed.

  14. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Is it wonderful that they do? Yes. Are they often heroic? Of course.

    But 39? Seriously?

    How many careers are there where people are actively trying to kill you?

  15. Sean Paul Kelley says:

    Yes, we all want our soldiers to check their 401(k) ValUes in the heat of battle.

  16. ROB says:

    As I sit here 60km from Kabul on my forth tour. I’m thinking about my family that I have moved 6 times in the last 7 years…I read this article after my wife mentioned it to me. I entered active service in 1999, prior to the war. I have never once thought of getting out prior to 2019. But part of what keeps me in, besides the fact that I love serving soldiers and love the work, is the fact that Uncle Sammy promised me a retirement if I made it to 20 yrs. Look you can be mad that I will retire at the age of 44( you too had the opportunity to raise your hand), and maybe the current system is unsustainable. But as the article stated, you will have a hard time keeping those talented but tired E-6s and O-3s if all you can offer is a 401k. I could see phasing in something that pushed back the benifits to age 50 or something like that in fact that would encourage many of the talented 20 and dones to stick around for a few more years or increasing contributions after x amount of years or a 401k with a 20 yr retirement starting at your 10th year(ie if you go 30 you get a 20 yr retirement)…But if you think we hae such a sweet deal then come give it a try…

  17. Barry says:

    @ROB: “But as the article stated, you will have a hard time keeping those talented but tired E-6s and O-3s if all you can offer is a 401k. I could see phasing in something that pushed back the benifits to age 50 or something like that in fact that would encourage many of the talented 20 and dones to stick around for a few more years or increasing contributions after x amount of years or a 401k with a 20 yr retirement starting at your 10th year(ie if you go 30 you get a 20 yr retirement)…But if you think we hae such a sweet deal then come give it a try… ”

    I don’t think it will be hard at all (for them to get away with, if they can pass it). The job market will continue to s*ck for the forseeable future, and age discimination starts at 40. Somebody with 20 years in, in their early/mid-40’s is pretty much stuck. I think that this is the motivation, that some people are realizing that a lot of these people *are* stuck, and can be exploited. As you might notice, this is standard GOP protocol; it’s just that the usual targets are civilians. I guess that after they went as far as screwing over police, they figured that they could get away with screwing over Our Boys in Uniform.

    I expect the big attrition to be for people in their late 20’s, who’ve re-upped once, and are considering going career. When they think about going through the sh*t for 24-30 more years, rather than ~14, and realized that they’ll be doing sh*t in their 40’s with no real options, a lot will leave. And that’s before they see a few more cuts, and realize that what they get at age 60 is totally uncertain.

  18. jonathan says:

    @michael reynolds:
    39…lol..Get your lazy butt off the couch at 57 and come with me…

  19. James Joyner says:

    @michael reynolds and@jonathan: I’m reminded about an old joke about anIndian, the punch line of which is “But I don’t work now.”

  20. Barry says:

    @James Joyner: James: “But the motivation behind this is real: The current plan just doesn’t work in an era when military pay is competitive and people draw retirement pay for decades. ”

    I really doubt that military pay is competitive for many jobs – getting deployed overseas to a combat zone every other year has got to rack up the hours, so to speak, and that’s if one is not being shot at.

    As for ‘people draw retirement pay for decades’, you’ve sorta hit the point. The right has spent thirty years hating any and all decent retirements (save their own – see the Tea Party).

  21. Eric B says:

    @James Joyner: The high 3 is significantly lower than a service member’s active duty compensation. Virtually every service member receives Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH) and Basic Allowance for Subsistance (BAS), which is about 20% above and beyond their basic pay. Additionally, every service member serving on a ship receives about 5% extra. All those serving on submarines receive about 10% extra. All pilots receive about another 10%. None of these are included in the basic pay calculated to determine retirement pay, not to mention combat pay and combat tax exclusion. With all this in mind, a service member who retires with 20 years, will receive something quite less than 40% of the compensation received while on active duty.

  22. Tim says:

    I have been in the navy for 24 years, I lead 140 people and have been on 16 deplyments of 6 months or more, Leaving my family home to deal with everything there. If you believe that you can compare the military to Civilian sector you are highly mistaken. Right now we are forcing people out of the military because we are overmanned (although my last command we were deployed 3 times in 3 years, requirements for ships have gone up but the ships havent so we have to deploy more often). I guarantee you that if this is passed everyone over 10 years will get out and then you will not have a senior enlisted to run the navy. I am an IT and have been offered much more money to retire and come work for them but I stay to lead my sailors and train them to be the best. I understand that they have to do something but there is no way that you can make an immidiate change and expect it to work. My retirement would go from 60% to 25% and oh by the way for us retired people we usually take a huge pay cut to retire. Bills like this are assuming that everyone in the military are staying in to retirement in actuality there is only about 26% of the military actually stays in to retirement. I am sorry if I rambled but I cannot believe that this would even be concidered much less actually pass concidering how much we SACRIFICE for our country.

  23. Lance says:

    I think that this idea is absurd. The thought that you are going to contribute to every person that enlists into the Military seems like they would be staying right on par with the amount that they are spending right now. As stated in an earlier post, only about a quarter of the people that enlist stay until retirement. When I joined the Military I was promised a 20 year retirement. I have watched many of my peers get out of the military to work for their civilian counterpart for higher pay and less or no deployments. When they do deploy as a civilian they make more than double the money and work half of the hours. To compare military service with civilian life is absolutely ridiculous. I can’t even believe that this is being brought to the table. It is my opinion, but I truly believe that this country will have a much harder time trying to keep the Military up to strength with this kind of change, unless they are prepared to allow them to work until 65 regardless of their years in service.

  24. Deryk says:

    Just so all you civilians understand the money we are talking about here. The average retirement pay grade is E7. An E7 retiring in 2011 with 20 years in service will get $1,840 before taxes. I wouldn’t quite call that “flush with cash”. After taxes it may be a modest house payment and a couple tanks of gas per month.

    On top of this massive amount of money he/she is draining on society, he/she is likely partially disabled from the years of pounding and high stress placed on the body, and has likely spent years away from loved ones. We as military member volunteer to give the best years of our lives to serve the country for compensation just above the poverty line. All we ask in return is a little respect and the fullfillment of the promise of marginal retirement plan. No one retires from the military and gets rich with the exception of the GO’s.

    I personnaly have 18 years of service and plan to complete 24. Those who choose to get out prior to being retirement eligible at 20 years move on to corporate America by choice. I could care less about changing the plan for future members. That is what they would understand upon entry, but when I entered promises were made. If change is necessary it should be phased in and those of us who are currently vested in a career should have the option to change rather than to pull the rug out at the last minute.

  25. Vernon says:

    I think some politicians what their asses kicked. How dare anyone even threaten to take away what we fought for during the last 20 plus years? Our whole time in we were promissed a retirement at 20 years if we stayed in and sucked it up. Now that the job’s about over, they want to back out on the deal because they can’t balance the checkbook? F++K That! When my retirement gets cut, I’ll use the training I learned in combat to kick somebody’s ass! Don’t F**k with our earned retirement Congress!

  26. Michele says:

    I was a military brat before I even saw the light of day. BOTH of my parents were active duty and were children of military members. I am a military spouse now and I support our troops. It is sad to say, but this isn’t the first time that the government has gone back on what it promised. My parents (Vietnam Vets) were promised “free health care for life”. Did it happen, no. They may have inexpensive health care, but they have to pay for the Tricare quareterly.

    I would love to see Congress take a pay cut! They serve 4 years and have the good life for the rest of their life with a MUCH bigger pay check than what my dad or husband will get after their respective enlisted retirements. It’s sad and pathetic.

  27. Ann says:

    I am an officer with 11 years in. I am married to a service member and we have spent 3out of our 5 years of marriage apart. The ONLY reason I have not left is because of the retirement. I have several degrees and a vast experience that would make me very marketable to the civilian side. If they pul this stunt I have no reason to stay. You will lose a lot of talented mid grade officers and NCOs with this madness!

  28. SSG Kurk, Joshua says:


    I’m in that boat Barry. I’m at the 6 year mark. already committed to 2013. Almost rose my hand to give 6 more. But thank God I didn’t. If something like this goes through no way in the h e ll will I reenlist. This job isn’t worth it. Already lost too many friends. (RIP SSG Trueblood, SGT Kelsey, PFC Smith).

    I’m on the last 30 days of this deployment. This past year I’ve taken apart over 30 IED’s, I’ve went through body parts looking for evidence just so I could get some evidence, I’ve disarmed a flesh rotted donkey that had IED on him, I’ve slept in the mountains for weeks on end. Oh and mean while I’ve sean my son only a hand ful of times in the last 4 years, and my newborn daughter will almost be walking by the time I get back.

    C’mon. I can get 401k from anywhere now adays. Why would I do this? Believe me the thrill is gone. Sure it’s exhilerating on your first couple of IED’s. Then it just becomes straight scary.

    BTW It’s not like soldiers get the rights of your regular federal employee. I can’t exactly tell my boss I quit. Nor can I complain when I have a problem. I can’t even put on civilian clothes to walk to the shower. I mean at what other job does forgetting to blouse your boots earn you a smoke session and public humiliation?

    Look, I did, I volunteered. And there are things I love about the military. But I only agree’d to do this because of the 20 and out. You bite the bullet for a tough and rough 20 years and pray you make it out alive and with all of your limbs. But waiting till I’m 60 to enjoy life? No way.
    I pray this doesn’t go through in my time. And if it does I’ll be really sad for our Airmen, Marines, Soldiers and Sailors. Specially thoughs in combat and high stress MOS’s that do not convert over to the civilian world.

    Oh and finally would I really have a case with breach of contract? I’m pretty sure they have a clause in there that allows them to make any changes they like.

    SSG Kurk, Joshua
    49th EOD TM2 Team Leader
    U.S. Army

  29. m brown says:

    well well well

  30. Raymond R. Bell says:

    I can tell you right now if the government does this they are effectively disabling the forces. I have been in 16 years and will walk out the door the day they sign this into effect and every single person with 10 plus years in in my command has said the same. Great right! Less people to pay retirement too right! Let me tell you what you little papers don’t. 10 years ago the average crewmember on the CH-47D (I am a test pilot on Chinook) knew his airframe inside and out and could help you troubleshoot and fix about any problem you had. This is a vital skill especially when your airframe takes hits and you need a quick fix before you are forced to land in bad guy country. But with the way the military has been running our boys into the ground all our experience has jumped ship and I was called out to an aircraft a few days ago because the cremmember didn’t know how to change a light bulb. What you think your going to have when you screw with retirment for experience in the forces.

    Next, every idiot out there that wants to compare the civilian forces to the military needs to shut their yappers right now. Unless you are in a job where you have spent over half your marriage ( I am on 11 years married with over 5 1/2 deployed, TDY, etc.) gone to areas where you have people actively trying to kill you flying complicated machines that are trying to kill you or humping 100lbs packs in 140F temps then you have no place talking at all. And if you already are pulling your retirement then unless you give yours up you need to shut up too.

    Learn from history people. In Edward Gibbons “The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire” when the governemnt started messing with military benefits emperors where permanently relieved of duty and the nations boarders crumbled because they pissed off the forces and the forces became ineffective. Do I think the forces are going to relieve our government. No. Do I think that they will become so weak and inexperienced that they won’t need too because any nation with a little might (say China) might try. Well, learn from history. It can and will happen again if you keep messing with the military the way you are.

  31. Raymond R. Bell says:

    O.K. I was a little fustrated in the last post. Hence the bad grammer and spelling. I will say this though. If the government does vote for this can we all say “draft.” Because it will be the only way to man to strength the military once the economy starts to go back up, which it will weather it be in a week or several years, it will get better. And the military will start to feel it bigger than I think they can comprehend.

  32. SSG Kurk, Joshua says:

    @Raymond R. Bell:

    Hey Raymond,

    I’m with ya 100%.

    I’ve been trying to find more info on these budget plans, and outlines explaining who’s idea this is and who we contact to make sure they know the active duty does not support this but I don’t find alot other than last months proposal (Which was the same except excluded current active duty as they would be grandfather’d in).

    I also would like to figure out much has been spent on high tech weaponry over the last 10 years. Billions and billions for weapons that are never used or fail completely I assume. And all this money to fight a force that uses 20 year old weapons and home made explosives.

    Have you noticed the change in contracting over here Ray? In the last 5 years it has gone from a few FBI, ATF, CEXC contracters to 100’s and 100’s of contracters per FOB. Painters, camera guys, USO DJ’s, mechanics, specialists, cooks, cleaners, painters, I mean WTF is all of this junk needed for? I got 4 contracters in my unit alone (a mechanic, a evidence specialists and 2 terps). Jeeze how the hell did we ever get through any war with out so many friggen contracters?

    Another interesting thing I read while doing research was that almost a billion dollars was spent on prisons and rehibilitation for prisoners just in California alone. Meanwhile some 80+ % all return to prison after they have been “rehiblitated” as repeat offenders. So clearly the money is just being waisted.

    I guess there are more things I could go on as far as waisted money but I’m bitter and don’t understand why they would toy with taking away our 20 year retirement.

  33. Raymond R. Bell says:


    I see exactly what you are saying. It kills me. In aviation I sit here and watch as our Army aircraft mechanics are used to mow the grass and paint rocks and we spend hundreds of thousands of dollars per individual civilian contractor to fix our aircraft. All our young kids see this and right or wrong think, screw this I am going to get out and fix aircraft with the civilian company where I don’t have to play stupid army games and I get paid a lot more. I have talked to a lot of kids with these sentiments and tried to explain the whole lay off process that civilians have to deal with and the fact that they don’t get the benefits we do. But it doesn’t matter. They continue to finally gain some experience as mechanics in the Army and then they leave us for civilian companies. So we are stuck training newbies to go work for civilian companies fixing our aircraft. Uhhhhhhh…. Am I the only one here that see’s a problem with that? Everyone is bitter right now bro. They have run the forces into the ground so much so that the divorce rate in some units is as high as 85% and suicides are becoming a epademic and even the leaders acknowledge that it is worse than has ever been seen before in the US Military. Yet, why were at it, lets screw with the retirement too.

  34. Raymond R. Bell says:

    I would like to throw one positive out there. What a great nation we live in. I mean seriously, how many other nations could we sit here and complain about the government the way we are, especially since we are in the military, and get away with it. I just hate complaining with out trying to find a positive.

    If the governement wants to do away with our retirement system, fine. But they better grandfather it or they are going to have a military strike on their hands. If they change this with out grandfathering it it will be the biggest lie this nation has ever told.

  35. TJ says:

    I have served over 20 years in the Air Force. I read about the retirement plan proposals in detail for the first time today. The details make me sick to my stomach! I started to feel burned out around 16 years in service. I would remind myself that I would retirement eligible in another 4 years and I would just suck it up and deal with what ever was going on. I surppassed 20 years in service this past June. I had planned on staying in until 24 years and beyond if I get promoted to E-8. I now have to ask myself. Is it worth staying in? Do I run the risk of losing my retirement benefits if I stay in? These are legitimate questions worth asking. I have a guaranteed pension if I retire now. I don’t want to retire now. I want to stay in, but not at the risk of receiving my retirement when I am 60. I feel betrayed and I am sick to my stomach with the proposals our esteemed congressmen are airing.

  36. SSG Kurk, Joshua says:

    This tells you alot more about it.

    Also there is a link that will allow you to send a letter to Obama, VP, Senate and congress in there. Its nice cause you can change the body and it will automatically send a copy to Obama, the VP and your Senators and your congressman based on your zip code.

    If you want to use the default ltter you can. but if you are military I encourage you to change it make it more personal based on your experience.

    That link to the letter is here

    SSG Kurk Joshua

    PS Join my facebook group if you want to discuss more about this. Or keep posting here if you have updates.

  37. Big Will says:

    If the government wants to cut spending, then they should start with cutting all of WELFARE. Those on welfare get paid for doing nothing and if they try to better themselves then thier welfare gets cut. That is the unfair system that doesn’t make sense.

    I am serving on my 21st year and yes in Afgahnistan. During my entire service I figured for all that I do, the government is only paying me part of my salary and I would get the other part after I retire. Everyone in the military does far more than what they get paid for, retirement makes up for what we didn’t get to begin with.

  38. Tony says:

    The military is a uniquely separate component of American society that is authorized by the Constitution and common sense. It is not a civilian workforce and carries a much bigger burden in the DOD than its civilian counterparts. Now I’m gonna slam the DOD civilian side as I just finished a year in Afghanistan where the average contractor was being paid double or triple what we are paid (and there were lots!) only to return to my current job which is 75% civilian. I keep being denigrated by these GS/contractor folks who according to a federal ranking scale technically outrank me (E7/16 years active)…..however in my dealings with them which I have done everyday for the last 2 years all I see are what would be considered equivalent to an E-4 mentality with them both responsibility and performance-wise. They don’t move unless they want to, deploy for long periods of time unless there is big money in it, are free to quit or look for employment elsewhere anytime, are able to go home EVERY NIGHT to their family, can focus solely on one job or task while having little professional requirements/standards other than their job description, have high tolerance for incompetence and aren’t required to DIE as part of their deal. All this while being slowly sidled up more and more to the military in all the “nice” spots so they can be jealous of a 20-year retirement pension which is subject to individual service stipulations and possible recall to duty. The service takes a toll on its members that it seems some people just aren’t understanding so I say to all civilians who see fit to examine the military from their cubicle: GET YOUR A*& TO THE FRONT, DO IT FOR 20 YEARS AND THEN TELL ME YOUR OPINION OR PROPOSED PLAN

  39. SFC Walker, Randy says:

    @SSG Kurk, Joshua:

    Thanks for the links. I have 13 1/2 years and I am an EOD Master Badge instructing at the new phase 1 on Ft. Lee. I was going to get out at 5 years but I heard about EOD and put that together with the 20 year retirement and thats what has kept me in. If they change the current retirement then I will most likely leave so that I can start another career before I hit 40. It just wouldn’t be worth it for me to stay in any longer. The Army would lose a wealth of experience in our field (Which is volunteer) if this happens.

  40. Bob says:

    If this passes though congress, I hope the Government is ready to push a young and inexperienced force into combat situations, and are ready to deal with the casualties that that will cause. Right now the 20 year retirement system is perhaps one of the few things that keeps the war veterans serving. Looks like soon I might just have to get out before I go Indefinite, use my GI. Bill, and thy to get a decent Job before I’m over the hill.

  41. barney fife says:

    It’s really quite simple. The U.S. (especially the U.S. government) has been living well beyond its means for a very long time. To them; defaulting on credit is like taking a breath of fresh air and has been going on for decades. It should come as no surprise that the government would default on its own people and likely sell us all out in the future. All they’ll do is flee when the sh*t hits the fan. They’ll certainly be financially stable enough, right?
    Bottom line. If the Government foolishly decides to significantly cut military retirement/DOD funding (especially without utilizing the Grandfather system/common sense) for those that joined with a 20+ year retirement in mind; this country will spiral out of control. And in conjuction with numerous other extremely deficient decisions made by our government panel of jackasses, the U.S. will ultimately fall because our DOD and finance CEO’s will cease to effectively exist. We’re already broke so what difference does it make to people whom have no concept of reality? It’s like comparing somebody like me to Donald Trump. What takes me 15-30 years to pay off with rediculous interest rates (though better in the current housing market) he can pull out of his watch pocket and “pay in full” instantaneously. Yet most people in this category rate rediculous tax breaks and ultimately dodge paying taxes. So the very folk’s who could make a huge difference oftentimes don’t. Obviously he and people who aren’t concerned with living paycheck to paycheck aren’t symbols of reality. Yet even though the working force pays the vast majority of taxes (increasing as each word rolls off my tongue), the “unreal” individuals/organizations/Feds control the balance……..and continue to f@ck up international credit in the process while continuing to deface the value of our country. We all can thank Uncle Sam for that one. Thanks guys! Kind of makes us ALL look bad, huh?!
    Back to the point. With what’s left of a potential “forced” military (a meager crew indeed), the government will have to hold people at gunpoint to join because a voluntary military will be a thing of the past. The quality of servicemembers will be nonexistent, and will easily be defeated by poorly trained forces floating across vast oceans in dugout canoes. Countries/civilizations will rise, some will become very powerful, but all will fall eventually. Historically this a prime example of the cascading effect of very bad decision making. It’s the way of the world. Sadly, the U.S. isn’t exempt from this scenario.
    It may be a good time to start seeking out another country to reside in (perhaps early in it’s democracy?) before we are forced into speaking Chinese or some other language besides English. Wish I could be more optimistic.

  42. Troy says:

    I have served over 20 years some in the U.S. Military. I would not have gone past ten years with the retirement system they are proposing. What the average citizen does not understand is the amount of sacrifice that the average soldier and sailor have to make on a continuous basis. With most jobs (including civil service) you have geographic stability, and with that stability they can invest in a home and build up equity over a prolonged period which also adds to their nest egg for retirement.
    Civilian employees also get compensation for working extended work weeks (over 40 hours). In the military we get paid the same whether it is a 40 hour or 96 hour work week, Normally the hours are in excess of 48 per week for most enlisted members (who by the way make far less than commissioned). The pay is not great for the junior enlisted members many of which qualify for food stamps if they have a family for their first few years.

    And unlike our politicians the military member also has to put in at least 20 years to get anything. Wonder if they pass this if they will cut their pension plans to?

    And for all those who think the military is over compensated take a look at some of the broken bodies, and minds that served this great nation protecting your freedoms dutifully serving where ever they are ask to then ask yourself if you would make that sacrifice for what little compensation we do get.

    If this country really wants to cut military spending they should stop fighting other country’s wars, and use the U.S. Military to defend this great nation like we signed up to do.

  43. Troy says:


    Made a few typo in the above you will have to forgive me I am a little pissed off right now.

  44. Tony says:

    @SSG Kurk, Joshua: Josh, one thing that most new stories about the Defense Buisness Board recommendation to crush the current retirement system is that nearly all 19 members of the panel have no military experiance, let alone retired military (except for two retired GO’s prepared to throw us under the bus) and more shocking is the fact that most of these Wall Street executives sitting on this board work for companies that stand to beneifit from DOD going to 401K type retirement, as their companies will help mamage the system. There is a Navy Medicene blog with the article, google: Wall Street, Defense Industry Interests Want to Repeal Military Retirement for the link. I about fell out of my chair when I read this. Talk about conflict of intrest. I have 27 1/2 in the Marines and was trying to get to 30 in 2014. If this starts to gain steam I will punch out to include forgoing any terminal leave to make sure I retired before they can screw me if it comes to this. Not a single one of my Marines said they will stick around as there would be no incentive to go beyond their current enlistments.

  45. Tony says:

    With the mass exodus this will cause, can anyone say DRAFT. Forget about DADT repeal causing folks to jump ship, this will do it hands down.

  46. Chuck says:

    And of course they (Republicans) will blame Obama for having to do it. Never once will the thought of increasing taxes and closing loop holes on the wealthy will come to mind. What a convenient scapegoat the man continues to be! I say let them fight their own oil/greed wars! Oh right…they will just draft the poor in…….

  47. Jason says:

    @James Joyner: I would like to see the Defense Business Board calculate how many millions in tax dollars can be saved from the overblown retirement contributions to Congress. The money wasted on pet projects and advanced weapons far exceeds the paltry retirement that is given to the much deserving Soldiers. The move will only weaken our national defense by not having experienced people stay for 20 years. Can this country really afford that?

  48. SSG Kurk, Joshua says:

    @SFC Walker, Randy:

    Hey SFC Walker,

    I have some friends going up to Ft. Lee after this deployment. SSG Roach is one of them. He’s a good guy. Been on two deployments with him. Also a 20 year guy. ( I think he is at 10 right now).

    I’ve thought about this over the last couple of days and talked with alot of other soldiers about it. I really don’t see this going through. And if it does you all are right. No one will stay in past 4 years. Come in, get your GI Bill and some bene’s, maybe some good training (depending on MOS) and then get out and get a career.

    I _STILL_ can’t find specifics on these new plans they are voting on. The best I can find is a paragraph saying “DOD will cut 200-400 billion over the next 10 years” but all the google clicking in the world I can’t find out how they plan on doing that. Part of me thinks that they don’t even know. Because part of their dept plan is to setup a committee to be responsible for making cuts.

    Seriously the people need to retake this country and quit letting it be run down into the ground by policticans, lawyers and know it alls.

  49. SSgt Garcia says:

    If this passes, Military members who have done 10 years like me should be able to get out and walk away with the 25% pension. If it stayed the same I would roughly get $2,000 after 20 years, hypothetically if I only lived for another 30 years after retiring, retired payments would add up to $720,000. If I take half that and was able to get out now with only a $1,000 pension and died at the same age it would only be $480,000 in total retired payments. It’s a win win for both sides, government would save money and I would be able to get out early seeing I was deceived in thinking I was getting the full $2,000 for the rest of my life after 20 years.

  50. SSG Kurk, Joshua says:

    @SSgt Garcia:

    The 25%, in their suggusted changes, would only be available to you if you stayed for 20 years. There is no option to get out now immediately and take the 25% as a matter of fact you wouldn’t even recieve TSP retroactively.

    If you got out at 10 years you would get nothing. If you stayed for 15 years and got out you would recieve 5 years of TSP… and nothing (Read no fixed pension). If you stayed for 20 and walked you would have 25% fixed pension because you were partly grandfathered and 10 years of TSP and it wouldn’t be available until you were 59.5.

  51. ABNDADDY says:

    WOW…Are you kidding me….3 hardship tours….4 Combat rotations…Living in some of the harshest conditions…Don’t let that CNN fool you with glamour shots of BAF….Pounding on the ground, rucking 25 plus miles, I would like to see a civilian do what a Soldier does in just one month on rotation…Get blown up by IED’s, call in Medevacs while your battles are jacked up, do a all night patrol and my list goes on not to mention what a our kids go through!

    Yes, I am in for 20 and I am out and then I am going to try and enjoy my life with my family! You’re telling me I don’t deserve that! I made these sacrifices and I expect to reap the reward just like NYPD has a 20 year retirement for a strenuous job….

    Look, the military is but a small dent in our country we are but about 500,000 strong….We all know what the real BS is and that’s getting a job and serving 2 years and getting a pension out of it…enough said….and stop lending money to all these other countries….and put it back into us! Poor teachers getting layed off every time I look around, schools not on par with other countries…Hell, hit all the rich people up in the US and tell them to bail us out…All we do is the same stuff over and over again and yet here they are talking about taking away my retirement….Oh yeah, I am the reason why we are in a crisis….Don’t forget I am also the reason “YOU HAVE A JOB TO GO TO”!

    Disgruntled Service Member

  52. greg says:

    @ABNDADDY: @Richard Gardner:
    And the US Gov is subsidizing California about 200-400 billion a year. Technically, the feds are paying the CA police and firemen’s retirement. But no longer taking care of the military…

  53. Tom Garner says:

    I retired (E6/Navy) after 20-years of service (under HIGH-3 program), I receive roughly $1200 per month in retirement with no medical disability. I fully invested (even when it hurts) in high risk fund. Prior to the economy busting my TSP was worth around 40-50K. However, since the economy is in the toilet it is now worth $10k (thanks stupid economy).

    What about disability pay? How WILL DISABILITY WORK? Since the money is taken FROM YOUR RETIREMENT and given as a tax-deferred check, WHAT ABOUT THAT? I didn’t see that mentioned at all in this “proposal”.

    But seriously that $1200 per month retirement check I receive is my rent and I am thankful for my 20-years for that, I live without the worry of my rent, as long as it stays under that magical $1200/per month. I also participated in Savings Bond Program, again a crappy way to invest, but this morning I received almost 7K worth of savings bonds, all set to expire next year.

    Savings Bond Program – $7,000
    Thrift Savings Program – $10,000 <- prior to collapse, was $40,000 (don't plan on touching)
    Retirement check – $1200 (ish) (14,400 per year) / gos to my rent (poof)
    I have a job now working for $11.15 per hour (and I am EXTREMELY HAPPY FOR MY JOB)

    Enjoy the future.

  54. Rick says:

    While I understand that we, as a nation, need spending reform, to perform a ‘bait-an-switch’ to hundreds of thousands of service members is unconscionable to me. I have been in the U.S. Army for 21 years and my wife has been for 17 years. Not only have we both deployed, but we have both deployed at the same time, causing us to send out kids to my family while we were both gone. We knew what we were getting into and we make the sacrifices willfully. However, for all of our years we have been looking forward to the retirement, as we have known it. To change our retirement benefits now, after a combined 38 years of service, is unscrupulous and unethical.

    I don’t think this should happen at all, but if it does, they MUST “grandfather” those of us who joined under the previous agreement. Anything less would be a slap in the face.

  55. SSG Kurk, Joshua says:

    Contracters on this FOB are out of control. I was at Orgun for about 10.5 of the 12 months of this deployment. Not too bad there or Zerok, or Curry or any of those. They are in dangerous places, but here, at Sharan. OMG. It’s almost 2 to 1 I swear it. And most of them are hired to do miniscul tasks that should be done by our E1-E4’s.
    I’m not trying to BUS the contractors, I mean good on them for making 100k for doing job that pays 35k back in the states. But jeeze it’s out of control.

  56. Eric says:

    21 years served, and four years to go, and as I understand it my retirement will go from 61% to 37.5% overnight. All for a couple of TSP contributions. There are alot of great arguements posted on this subject, and I haven’t run the numbers on how this would effect new recruits, but for myself, this would be devistating to my retirement plans. I have been planning for many years how I would spend my retirement years based off of expecting what I was promised 21 years ago. This change would make all of that impossible. The military is always asked to do more with less. Whether that be more work with less people, more watchstanding with less sleep, more deployments with less family time, and now this. I do the job of 5 people every day, with my civilian friends not believing what I am responsible for. There are alot of areas we could save money as a government and taking it from someone who would take a bullet for you doesn’t seem like the right answer. If we decide this is the direction to go, it must start with new recruits and not with the people who have already put in their time. We’ve earned it.

  57. 17YearsNavy says:

    @James Joyner: I think you really don’t understand how military pay works.

    Yes our retirement is calculated by a high-three requirement. So lets say I make with pay and benefits about $6,600.00 a month.

    So to figure out you need to remove all pay or allowances that are not BASE PAY (BAS AND BAH), for me this would leave about $3,400.00 a month. From this amount at 20 years I should get 50% of that, so about $1,700.00.

    Some basic math to figure out percentage: (1700/6600=0.2575757575757576 or 25.75%) So from my normal pay while in service to the retirement payment (before it also gets taxed) is 25.75%.

    If you don’t believe me then go to and look up what our pay and allowances are, be sure to use the DC zip code for the housing allowance seeing that is the area that I live in and most military members don’t get as much as we do for housing. So their monthly pay is less then mine. (by the way even though the price’s for rent in the DC area have not decreased, the allowance for this area has dropped almost 20% making it more difficult for military members moving here to survive in this area due to the cost of living near DC)

    Remember I am an E6, all of the military’s pay and allowances are open to the public and available to anyone that wants to see it so just make sure you calculate for my pay grade and not another.

    Then run the numbers for all pay grades from E6 to O9. You will see that the percentage at 20 is usually 25% of our normal pay at the end of our career.

  58. 17YearsNavy says:

    @Deryk: I totally agree with your statement. Especially your comment about the damage to our bodies due to time in service. I would like to have someone tell me where you voluntarily destroy your body for work in the civilian sector. As military members we are asked to do many things that would be considered cruel on the civilian sector.

    *getting gassed
    *live fire exercises
    *staying awake and having to be able to work for days with little or no sleep
    *moving your family to new locations just as they were just getting unpacked from the last move
    *if the budget is not signed and you don’t get paid you still have to go to work (the war just doesn’t stop because you didn’t get paid)
    *and so on, these are just a few I can think of off the top of my head.

    I have completed 6 surgeries in the past 2 years and will be going into the O.R. again at the end of this month. All but two of these surgeries are to repair joints that have been damaged over time while in the military, mostly due to inadequate medical care during my tours on a ship. This includes the fact that I had cancer for about 4 years and even though I questioned the corpsman about a lump I had found, I was told not to worry it is nothing.

    So to all of you that don’t get it. We as military members were promised this retirement. We voluntarily joined to do a job with a promise of 50% at 20 knowing that if we get to that point we would have to face some major challenges not only medically but with family and duty to get to that 20. Now nearing the end of my enlistment with only three years left to retirement, if this gets passed as the article read in the Navy Times I would get not the 50% but a 16.5% yearly annuity for the remainder of my enlistment.

    What is a Veteran?

    A Veteran is someone who, at one point in his or her life, wrote a blank check made payable to the United States of America for an amount of “up to and including their life”! -Phillip Meskin

    Those of us in the service understand what Phillip Meskin meant with this quote.

  59. susan says:

    I remember when the military shifted to create Tricare. In theory Tricare was suppose to contain healthcare costs, and provide for better inclusivity in treatment. The idea was that we could close many military hospitals, reduce services at some existing military hospitals, and in fact save money. Of course Tricare took military medicine and exponentially increased it’s budget to a point where it make billion dollar ships look affordable. The point is that this system will end up doing only one real thing: cost more money.

    There are a number of considerations when calculating the cost savings of say navy retirement. Calculating the cost is easy, but the savings is hard to figure out. What if we had no retirement? How does that cost recruitment, training, and retention. RIght now if you look at reenlistment bonuses you’ll see most services have used math to determine that a service member needs a high incentive to reenlist at say 4 or 8 years, and a relatively low incentive at say 12, 14 or 16 years service.

    Further, high turn over would result in higher training and retraining costs, and of course, higher recruitment costs. One interesting issue, is that as the military gets smaller I think the actual cost of retirement is relatively reasonable. MIlitary service cannot be compared to Chrysler or Walmart or McDonalds. And while it is easy to invoke a number of laws to keep servicemen in during time of crisis, we have learned that a voluntary force is politically and practically more reliable and affordable.

    I’m all for paying service members retirement money from day one into an account. And I understand that congress would have interest in funding the Dow Jones with billions in benefits. But I see this as a most likely expensive endeavor. I see congress,, like they did with tri-care, passing laws later that make this new retirement play exponentially more expensive, just like they did by allowing concurrent payments.

    Today, we have a major issue with the cost of healthcare in the military, but instead of tackling a problem that now allows for about 4 or 5 of the biggest government payments to go to companies that are healthcare related. 30 years ago not a single healthcare company was on that list. No, instead of tackling that expense, we look at something that will like mutate into an impossible entitlement program that just won’t work.

  60. M. Long says:

    I don’t buy it with their dollar and you shouldn’t either. The day serving in the military is likened to pulling a 9-5 shift at 7-11 or working for a company we have all lost. After 23 years in the military my words will be lost on anyone who has not or is not serving and anyone who has not lost a loved one. I missed the first 7 years of all three of my children’s lives – I’ll never get that back and no amount of money will make it right. Every holiday, every birthday, every anniversary gone. Keep this up and the all volunteer military will be filled and managed (noticed I didn’t say led) by the transient crew and those less than willing to lay their life on the line for ideals and freedom. Nothing good can come from breaking the pact between Amercia and it’s warriors. My vote is send them back to the drawing board to find another solution. Eliminate or consolidate redundant bases and redundant capabilities across the services. Suspend or reduce annual pay raises until the economy picks up, servicemembers can still work hard for promotion and the raise that is associated with the added responsibilities that come along with it. Point being there is a thousand ways to crack this nut other than the method suggested.

  61. P says:

    @michael reynolds:

    The Navy has a great motto: Choose your rate, Choose your fate. Taking your own advice you should have chosen to put yourself in harms way so that others could work until they were 57.

  62. Clinton says:

    In reference to the above conversations

    “””I’m not sure how you’re calculating percentages. Aside from maybe physicians, who’s making roughly as much in incentive and specialty pay as their base pay? For most, it’s a modest stipend–which is, bizarrely, not considered taxable income.”””

    @James Joyner: I am fairly certain he is stating that while active duty, a member collects Base Pay, BAH/OHA, BAS, possible COLA, and maybe other pays depending on job(flight pay, jump pay). However, the retirement only is 50% of the BASE PAY…

    So, 3000 in base pay, 1000 in BAH, 320 in BAS(these are the basic 3 you will always get … BAH will vary) = 4320.

    After retirement, you receive 50% of 3000(base pay) = 1500………… 4320-1500 = 2820(difference after retirement) 2820/4320 = 65%… this is the difference which means 100%-65 = 35% what you actually are getting compared to what you did while on active duty. Hardly enough to survive. So you don’t actually get 50% of what you where getting paid, you only get 35%ish.

  63. James Joyner says:

    @Clinton: I’m prior service and my late father did 20 and retired back in 1983, so I understand the system. Everybody understood that the retirement was off of base pay. In most cases, supplemental pay is fairly modest (BAH, BAS) but it could be quite substantial, indeed, if you’re getting a COLA for a high cost of living area. When I was in Germany, I was getting a ridiculous extra amount for housing, for example. Same for those in the DC area.

  64. Seriously Pissed Off says:

    @James Joyner: I think that this new retirement plan stinks!! If the government wants to cut the national debt then why don’t they start in Congress first? They could cut their retirement plans in half verses receiving a 100% of their pay after serving only one term. And this is just one example that would help instead of cutting back retirement from the Soldier that protect their freedom and their right to dick them over!!!!

  65. Earl says:

    @Scott Gunderson:

    Spot on!!! You hit the nail on the head. Massive time away from home (i’m at 4 years deployed so far in my career), forced moves (several less than 2 years/18 months. Congress better think long and hard before breaching this contract. They have no problem calling on us every couple of months to go to crap holes for them.

    Different story if they do it with people just coming in, but I’ve been in 28 years! Passed on plenty of opportunities, I’ve earned what I was promised as we all have.

  66. Corpsemaster_Momma says:

    I guess I’m having a little trouble understanding why they’re saying the “incentive” is for people to stay in… last I recall, at least 5 people that I worked with who were EP sailors for years on end got the boot from PTS denial. Now they’re saying the new retirement is incentive to get people to stay in or join? How about not having to worry about PTS? Or better yet- screen a little more thouroughly at MEPs before sending off some shmuck to boot camp who has had schizophrenia since age 10 and claims disability after he goes nuts the first tour he’s on at a shore base with no deployments under his belt (I calls em as I sees em). The retirement system already in place stems back to when joining was typically involuntary, so they say that it needed the overhaul to revamp it to a more “modern” day approach to cater to the volunteer servicemembers. I also saw the numbers they crunched- $47 billion contributed to the military retirees….. that in itself shows that the money is a bigger concern for them than anything else. So basically, at this point, I’m gonna get TSP allotments for a couple years until I get out, but what about the other years I’ve been in? Isn’t there going to be a grey area? I’m not on the downside of my career yet- I still have a few ears til I get there. I can tell you this much- I didn’t always have enough money being low ranking with a family supported entirely off my income to dump funds into the TSP account each month. I’ll get out with nothin but a hand shake and a few bucks in my pocket. Doesn’t sound very enticing to me.

  67. military wife says:

    This makes me angry. I served for 4 years and married a career military man. He has 16 years in already and we have made plans for retirement. Now the government wants to take our future away? Ever wonder why congress never talk about cutting back their own pay and retirement? Lets talk about that at the round table for once. 6 digit salaries, not having to pay some taxes, full retirement benefits for serving only 4 years. Hmmmm where is the real spending cuts needed? Surely not the soldiers we sacrifice enough!

  68. kathie says:

    To all of you, Your biggest threat to your pension is USFPA. My son retired this spring after 20 years. His wife decided she loved her highschool sweetheart. He now has to pay her 43 percent of his retirement for life. She can remarry, go to jail, do whatever and she still collects.

    In return he loses his house, his kids (judges don’t give the parent who was away from home the children) his life. Only in the military can a spouse commit adultry and get paid for the rest of their life for it. Only someone in the military can be divorced but have to support their spouse for the rest of their lives. Thanks to congress. Every military person considering retiring from the military should join in the fight to change this. Please join and help in this battle

  69. Chris says:

    @michael reynolds:

    And you chose your career. Yes seriously 39!

  70. M. Long says:

    Two last points I’ll make: Anyone who sells their soul to attain the 20 year carrot shouldn’t fool themselves. Read the law and read the fine print a little closer. Folks think we walk away from the crappy deployments and long hours and magically turn into employable civilians. Truth is: Unless you know someone or get hooked up chances are your not getting another great job or the chance to start over at all. Most federal agencies and companies aren’t looking to employ personnel or can’t hire personnel over 40 – regardless of their qualifications. Additionally here is the kicker, you never really “retire”. Under the law someone eligible to “retire” at 20 years, really gets transferred into a reserve status for 10 years and draws “retainer pay”, must keep the gov’t informed of where they are and in the event of war can be involuntarily recalled to active duty. I know many people whose skill sets were in need and viola welcome back your now subject to the UCMJ again. At the 30 year mark you are then moved from the reserve standby status to a retired status, but again your drawing “retainer pay” not retired pay and if the poop really hit the fan your still on the short list and subject to being involuntarily recalled and deployed to lay your life on the line again. Wouldn’t it be neat if Walmart could recall folks to handle the Christmas rush lmao. Ethics rules also restrict what type of employment your allowed to do while drawing your hard earned retainer pay. Meaning your never really totally free of the responsibilities, rules and always well within reach.

  71. John says:

    When I woke up yesterday morning I was a happy go lucky Airman looking forward to my day serving my country. But by lunch, after reading about this plan, my world crashed. Just the talk of this proposal has me very concerned and even if some of it gets passed, it is time to retire. Those 13% of us in the active ranks that have over 20 yrs in, should consider this the flipping of the leaves before the big storm. I for one do not want to put my family through this just to see what happens. Change is a coming and I want to be retired getting my full 55%by the time it does!

  72. AAC says:

    I don’t like this new proposed retirement plan at all. My husband has served his country for 21 years and wants to get out. To have a pension in today economy is important. Why…because finding a job when he gets out that even pays enough to live on is hard enough. but to have that pension would be so helpful to just help make ends meet. If you are not an LTJG or an Officer well you can for get about it. This is CRAP!!! When is this going to take affect? Will those who have retired before this takes effect be grandfathered in? So many questions…

  73. Ben says:

    Ok I have been reading all of these posts the last few days, and finally decided to post my 2 cents. I am an active duty Mairne and have been for 5 years, I think it is pathetic and a slap in the face of all service members to do this to us. Besides out debt is over 14 trillion and doing this only saves 800 million, thats nothing how about we cut the spending on illegal immegrents, on sending them through college, paying for medical. Or cut into welfare take money away from people who do nothing and will never do nothing as long as they get free money that WE who pay paxes pay for. Or maybe cut into the money we spend on everyone across the world. How are we supposed to take care of someone else when we can not take care of ourselfs first.

    If this policy does pass, I will not stay in at all but instead which I am sure alot of service members will do is make themselfs non competive in promotions and cause them selves to be a high year 10, take the severents pay and the stupid 401k and roll it over which will cause the military to fall apart from the Inside out, loosing all of their small unit leadership. This is just my opinion.

  74. seamus macaonghusa says:

    I entered the Army as an enlisted soldier in 1986. Due to my career choice I was deployed 6 months out of every year on a fairly consistent basis. That cost me one marriage.

    I got commissioned , remarried and 6 months later I was sent to Korea on an unaccompanied tour for a year. I left active duty and went into the Reserves. One year later we were attacked on 9-11. 4 separate year long mobilizations quickly followed, 3 of which were voluntary. My country was at war and I have a certain skill set that is needed so I decided to go back on Active Duty. 2 tours to Afghanistan and 1 to Iraq quickly followed. None if this was a surprise because I volunteered. That’s how I was raised, that is my culture, that is the culture of the Army that I know. After 12 years of marriage and over 1/3 of that time spent apart, marriage #2 failed.

    So, here I sit…2 marraiges down, countless deployments behind me and less than 18 months from retiring and now this….my retirement is a target because it’s ‘unfair’. I will retire at age 51…what are my odds of “re-entering” the work force at this age and in this economy?

    I am sickened…I am worried…I am fearful of my future. But, I am honored and proud to have served with the finest group of Warriors the Army has ever produced. THAT they cannot take away from me!

  75. gram says:

    @seamus macaonghusa:

    Your biggest problem with your retiring will not be gettng a job but keeping any of your pension. With 2 ex wives you will lose all of your retirement.

    Join the following group to repeal the congressional act that gives you exspouses large percentages of your retirement for life and you won’t be able to collect unememployment because you supposedly get this pension, even tho it goes to an exspouse.

    Join and help everyon repeal this act.

  76. 2012 yet? says:

    @Vernon: They did this after Vietnam–and when something finally got passed, it was TOP THREE and maybe a 15 year lump sum deal. Don’t sweat it–folks would lay down their arms, and no one would enlist. Cut bonuses and Afghanistan first. How about social spending on folks who sacrifice nothing. LUCKILY, we have a Republican House. They HAVE to have a GRANDFATHER clause for those already serving. I have signed NDAs too–does renegotiating my retirement allow me to break those agreements?

  77. 2012 yet? says:

    @Ben: $800M is nothing–and would be highlighted if this became a bill for vote. I do believe the retirement system will change–but a grandfather clause will be in place as we enter a period of RIFs and isolationism.

    Seriously, MOST everyone could have served and enjoyed these benefits. They are the first ones to say let’s do away with military retirement. I always had ‘delayed’ gratification by raising my hand in 1998–knowing my pension was 20 years away. Cut social spending first for those who contribute nothing, cut congressional retirements at 5 years, cut bonuses to military folks when we are going through a RIF, cut expensive projects like the F-22 when future wars are going to be against insurgents and through cyber, cut Afghanistan because they will never produce a GDP above a poppy-field, cut Afghanistan because nation building should be in Africa where resources are plentiful, cut Afghanistan because it doesn’t have a realistic End State, and stop universal health-care and bring America back to being the ‘Land of the Free, and Home of the Brave’ where the American Dream is possible FOR THOSE WHO WORK!!!

  78. Mark Brock says:

    We just lost 31 Special Forces Soldiers with the blink of an eye. Enough said.

  79. greg says:


    Also as I see it if a Servicemember living in San Diego have to live in a bread line becuase the cost of living is so high then how are they suppose to afford putting money into a 401(k) program.