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Another one who can't let go...
Old 06-27-2006, 01:06 AM   #1
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Another one who can't let go...

Nords is going to love this one.

So reading these two topics today:

http://early-retirement.org/forums/i...p?topic=8309.0

http://early-retirement.org/forums/i...p?topic=8363.0


reminded me of a conversation the spouse and I had recently about a guy we know trying to stay on active duty after being wounded in Iraq.* He's an O-3 infantry officer with about 12 years of service and lost one leg below the knee.* He was given two options:

a) immediate medical retirement with 60% of base pay for the rest of his life - roughly $3000/month.* Presumably this includes his medical care.

OR

b) Stay on active duty with a not-very-sexy desk job in DC and finish out his 20 years with one more promotion until retirement.* Job would be working in a mostly civilian environment with no chance of ever serving again in the operating forces as an infantry officer.

What would you do?

This guy obviously chose option (b), mostly because he is having a hard time letting go of "being a Marine" and not because of any financial issues.* In fact, unless I'm missing something this move is less lucrative than taking a civil service job in the same office and collecting his disability on the side.

Since my husband also loves his work and has the same rank with the same job and nearly the same years in service I asked him the "What would you do question?".* His immediate response: "I'd take the money and run!!"* On the one hand he was pleased to see the military bending over backwards to keep someone on active duty after being wounded, on the other hand he was appalled that someone would have their identity so wrapped up in their job that they would take any "lame" assignment just to keep wearing the uniform.* Yeah, kind of a morbid topic, but nice to have another confirmation that the spouse and I are on the same track with regards to ER attitudes.
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Re: Another one who can't let go...
Old 06-27-2006, 06:45 AM   #2
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Re: Another one who can't let go...

I guess I can see the sticking around option as viable in this case simply because the poor guy has just suffered a radically life-changing injury and probably needs to hang onto what threads of stability he can. Maybe he will feel differently in a few years...
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Re: Another one who can't let go...
Old 06-27-2006, 11:27 AM   #3
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Re: Another one who can't let go...

I'm doing some research into cults, and into the methods used to get someone to give up large portions of his or her own individuality in favor of group identification.

These include isolation from family and friends, head-shaving in some cases, dressing alike, group pressure, and high-arousal activities (exercize, chanting, sleep deprivation and so on) to keep the individual from thinking about what's happening to him.

Sounds EXACTLY like my bootcamp / Navy experience.

How's this for a friendly discussion topic? ;-) At times, the military can be a lot like a cult, and many of those who serve share meaningful characteristics with cult members (to varying degrees, of course!)

How else do you explain their dying for people they've only recently met, wanting to go back despite the loss of limbs, eyes, brain tissue, etc.?

As for myself, I served only one hitch 25 years ago, but I still have an old WWI recruiting poster framed and on my office wall. The one that says: "Gee!! I wish I were a MAN. I'd joing the NAVY!"

Go figgah.




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Re: Another one who can't let go...
Old 06-27-2006, 01:01 PM   #4
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Re: Another one who can't let go...

Well, I'm a sucker for a sticky "What would you do?" question.

Quote:
Originally Posted by FlowGirl
... reminded me of a conversation the spouse and I had recently about a guy we know trying to stay on active duty after being wounded in Iraq.* He's an O-3 infantry officer with about 12 years of service and lost one leg below the knee.* He was given two options:
a) immediate medical retirement with 60% of base pay for the rest of his life - roughly $3000/month.* Presumably this includes his medical care.
OR
b) Stay on active duty with a not-very-sexy desk job in DC and finish out his 20 years with one more promotion until retirement.* Job would be working in a mostly civilian environment with no chance of ever serving again in the operating forces as an infantry officer.
This guy obviously chose option (b), mostly because he is having a hard time letting go of "being a Marine" and not because of any financial issues.* In fact, unless I'm missing something this move is less lucrative than taking a civil service job in the same office and collecting his disability on the side.
Well, to be fair to him, there's more at stake here than questioning why someone would want to be a PACOM PowerPoint Ranger.* And clearly he's decided that money isn't everything, which is encouraging.* In his position I'd have a tough time making a better decision.

For example, he's probably asking himself "Why leave now?"* He'll be retired within the decade anyway, and he'll spend the rest of his life wondering "What if?"* I recently met another guy who was medically retired at 17 years of service, 100% disabled and unable to work ever again.* The English language lacks the vocabulary to describe the depths of his hostility & bitterness.

The O-3's already looking at a severe case of survivor guilt, to say nothing of the grieving process for his own loss.* How could he take blood money for someone else's sacrifice, especially if the sacrifice was made under his leadership or, even worse, his command?* No one will be harder on himself than him.* At least I had the benefit of being told when to leave the service.

He's also a sucker like the rest of us for a process where the military bureaucracy says "Well, we don't normally let people stay on active duty in cases like this, but we could be persuaded to make an exception for incredibly motivated people who are strong performers with unlimited potential."* Who could allow themselves to wimp out from this offer?

Does he have a spouse/family with whom he can (or should) be closer than the Corps?* I can understand why he'd be reluctant to leave a familiar environment.*

Besides in uniform he's a True American Hero, the kind of guy whose award citations are read out to the new recruits at MCRDs by drill sergeants.* In civilian clothes he's just another unfortunate victim of this country's imperialistic misadventures, and someone to be pitied or given charity.* Hardly an attractive option.

Quote:
Originally Posted by FlowGirl
Since my husband also loves his work and has the same rank with the same job and nearly the same years in service I asked him the "What would you do question?".* His immediate response: "I'd take the money and run!!"* On the one hand he was pleased to see the military bending over backwards to keep someone on active duty after being wounded, on the other hand he was appalled that someone would have their identity so wrapped up in their job that they would take any "lame" assignment just to keep wearing the uniform.* Yeah, kind of a morbid topic, but nice to have another confirmation that the spouse and I are on the same track with regards to ER attitudes.
You can hardly expect to obtain an objective response to your spousal interrogation!!* This reminds me of those hoary marriage entrapment questions:* "Would you remarry if I died?"* "Do you think s/he is attractive?"* "

I bet if your spouse's troops took him to the Vietnam Memorial, played the Marine Corps Hymn softly in the background, and passed around a few frosty beverages while telling sea stories that they could get a different answer within 30 minutes.

But, hey, if he could hold out from those inducements then maybe yours is worth keeping around for a while...

One other thought.* I wonder if this O-3 has had a chance to read up on James Webb, James Stockdale, Bill Lawrence, Paul Galanti, Joe Taussig, and others injured "in the line of duty".* It could be argued that these people went on to their greatest achievements after their injuries kicked them out of the service...

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Re: Another one who can't let go...
Old 06-27-2006, 01:19 PM   #5
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Re: Another one who can't let go...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Caroline
These include isolation from family and friends, head-shaving in some cases, dressing alike, group pressure, and high-arousal activities (exercize, chanting, sleep deprivation and so on) to keep the individual from thinking about what's happening to him.
Sounds like college, grad school, athletic teams, etc. Cults I say!
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Re: Another one who can't let go...
Old 06-27-2006, 01:57 PM   #6
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Re: Another one who can't let go...

Quote:
Originally Posted by justin
Sounds like college, grad school, athletic teams, etc.* Cults I say!
Nah, see, the difference is that cults don't get government approval or benefits.

I think.
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Re: Another one who can't let go...
Old 06-28-2006, 12:50 AM   #7
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Re: Another one who can't let go...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nords

For example, he's probably asking himself "Why leave now?"* He'll be retired within the decade anyway, and he'll spend the rest of his life wondering "What if?"*
Good point.* My thinking was more along the lines of - its easier to start a new career in your mid-30's instead of mid-40's.* Patriotism is running high and the war is still fresh so would think more doors to a second career would be open now rather than later.

Quote:
He's also a sucker like the rest of us for a process where the military bureaucracy says "Well, we don't normally let people stay on active duty in cases like this, but we could be persuaded to make an exception for incredibly motivated people who are strong performers with unlimited potential."* Who could allow themselves to wimp out from this offer?
Gee, how did you guess!* Turns out this is a new position, created just for him.

Quote:
Does he have a spouse/family with whom he can (or should) be closer than the Corps?* I can understand why he'd be reluctant to leave a familiar environment.*
Yes, he has a family and I think they have mixed feelings since they're being uprooted to make the move.


Quote:
You can hardly expect to obtain an objective response to your spousal interrogation!!*
Sure, but its still fun!* For the sake of full disclosure I will admit that the spouse said there are definitely some jobs he would be willing to stay for, but not this position, and not in DC.* I think the traffic alone would scare him off.

Quote:
I bet if your spouse's troops took him to the Vietnam Memorial, played the Marine Corps Hymn softly in the background, and passed around a few frosty beverages while telling sea stories that they could get a different answer within 30 minutes.
*

Thankfully I think he's far too cynical for that, after all this is a guy who has thrown all of his plaques and awards straight in the trash ("I can't believe someone paid $40 for this crap" *toss* "Thanks, but I don't need a wall of memorablia to remind me of what I've done").* Although he's certainly not above putting on his uniform for a night of free drinks when pub crawling at home.

To address Brewer's point I can see needing time to heal to make a proper decision and agree that he may feel differently in a few years.* I just hope that he can find a new identity either in the service or out.
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Re: Another one who can't let go...
Old 06-28-2006, 12:14 PM   #8
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Re: Another one who can't let go...

Quote:
Originally Posted by FlowGirl
... thrown all of his plaques and awards straight in the trash ("I can't believe someone paid $40 for this crap" *toss* "Thanks, but I don't need a wall of memorablia to remind me of what I've done").
Oh my, what you're supposed to do is strip off the engraved plate and return the blank plaque to the admin assistant who had to purchase it. That way they have a recycled spare for the next awardee. I think they teach that at XO school.

My "ILoveMe" wall is two things: (1) a framed 2'x3' shot of USETAFISH surfacing after an emergency blow (the story behind the print is that it's actually SSN 695 but the photo has been retouched by a shipmate to SSN 696 and it somehow found its way into the U.S. Naval Institute photo archives, which secret I'll reveal to them for my 100th birthday, shhh) and (2) a two-foot wide hand-carved set of wooden dolphins purchased in Rota for me by my then girlfriend (before her spouse upgrade). Both objects fit nicely above the dryer between the cabinets and the side garage door...
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Re: Another one who can't let go...
Old 06-28-2006, 05:31 PM   #9
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Re: Another one who can't let go...

Ah yes, the plaques. I threw out four boxes of them when i moved out of my mcmansion, shortly after ERing. And those were just the ones I felt I didnt deserve, just to remind me of how stupid plaques are...
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Re: Another one who can't let go...
Old 06-29-2006, 11:21 AM   #10
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Re: Another one who can't let go...

Quote:
Originally Posted by FlowGirl


Thankfully I think he's far too cynical for that, after all this is a guy who has thrown all of his plaques and awards straight in the trash ("I can't believe someone paid $40 for this crap" *toss* "Thanks, but I don't need a wall of memorablia to remind me of what I've done").
It seems to me that you can understand a lot about someone's personality by how they feel about commemorative plaques, etc. Very telling. I think the way your DH does, but I have a brother in law who has a wall full of every little certificate he's ever gotten. Something new to add to the personality test!
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Re: Another one who can't let go...
Old 06-29-2006, 05:45 PM   #11
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Re: Another one who can't let go...

I don't think it's appalling that this Marine's identity is wrapped up in his job. Most Marines are proud to be Marine's (from what I've seen). They see it as more than a job - which it certainly is.
I think it's interesting that someone would be "appalled" by this, especially if he's a Marine himself.
Most likely I'd take the money and go myself - PROBABLY because I'd be too busy feeling sorry for myself. I think it's awesome that this guy has the where-with-all to stick around and keep working.
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Re: Another one who can't let go...
Old 06-30-2006, 01:50 AM   #12
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Re: Another one who can't let go...

Geez, of course my spouse is proud of being a Marine and of course its more than a job... I'm sure he'll do his share of reminiscing and story telling after he gets out.* But if, for example,* the USMC suddenly told him he would be spending the rest of career repairing night vision goggles in Bartow, CA you can sure bet he'd be out of the service faster than you could say "EAS".* The uniform is sexy, but it isn't that sexy.
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Re: Another one who can't let go...
Old 06-30-2006, 10:04 AM   #13
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Re: Another one who can't let go...

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Re: Another one who can't let go...
Old 06-30-2006, 10:59 AM   #14
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Re: Another one who can't let go...

Yeah, I have. The minute I have the urge to put something in the attic, I throw it out. Took 1000lbs of stuff to the dump this past week. My garage still looks like a box company took a direct hit.
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Re: Another one who can't let go...
Old 06-30-2006, 01:31 PM   #15
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Re: Another one who can't let go...

Our attic is not set up for storage so that keeps me from using it. The basement is finished so that limits some of the storage space but we did allocate a bedroom to storage and it is pretty much filled with boxes of stuff. We are working our way down from top to bottom and have managed to empty all the drawers and the closet in one bedroom and part of another. That only leaves about 6 more closets to work on.

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