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Old 07-09-2007, 05:35 PM   #21
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The Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station is about 20-25 minutes drive from the Buffalo Int Air Port, if you're flying in. The Niagara Falls IAP is pretty small, I didn't really check it out & don't know what kind of flights go in & out of there. I flew into Buffalo. Glad to help with the billeting info, it really is a great service that I'll be taking plenty of advantage of once I'm retired. As far as the Armed Forces Vacation Club, I have a couple of friends who use it and swear by it, and although I've looked it over a few times on line, I haven't tried it out yet. My boss says I've been on too many trips this year, and have to stay around the shop for a few months now. However, I'm planning to slide myself back out to Tucson for a couple of weeks in October or November. I've never stayed in the billeting there, aparently it's frequently full so I almost always am "forced" to stay someplace down town like the Radisson or Marriott. In the last 5 yrs, I've been to Tucson on business at least once each year, and have always gotten great hotels. Of course, that's with my employer paying.
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Old 07-09-2007, 05:52 PM   #22
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I don't know if "pension" is right or wrong, but that's what I call it. I'll have 2 of them, whatever they are. My civil service cola pension starts in 5 yrs, and my AF reserves cola pension will begin exactly 5 years later. I'm not ashamed, I believe I have earned and fully deserve these retirements. I'd like to see somebody out there in July in Texas in 100 degree heat, high 90's humidity, wearing a charcoal-lined chemical warfare suit (you'd have to experience it to understand) full-face gas mask, rubber hood, rubber gloves, rubber boots, with absolutely zero of your skin exposed - and stay in this getup for at least 6 hours, not sitting in the shade, which would be torturous enough, but working out on the hot ass flightline with your weapons load crew humping bombs, missiles & ammo onto F-4 (later F-16)fighter jets as fast as you can carry your heat-stroke approaching butt. This is just one of many fond memories....like I said I believe I've earned my money & my retirements. I have seen a few posts suggesting civil servants may be overcompensated or something to that effect. I invite those folks to come help me completely dissasemble, inspect & reassemble a 30mm seven barrel GAU-8 gun system from an A-10 attack aircraft, or crawl up into the cockpit of a B-52 & sit there in the heat for an hour while we do some functional checks of the release system...OK, stepping off the soapbox now .
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Old 07-09-2007, 06:05 PM   #23
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Anyone happen to know if being a disabled veteran, if I would qualify (and the wife) for one of Tri-care programs? I can go to the VA, but at the moment the wife does not have medical insurance. Plus I need something for traveling out of the country.
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Old 07-09-2007, 08:34 PM   #24
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Also, Nords So do you think you would have been better off if you left the Navy and went to the private sector?
Good question.

First, I had no freakin' idea what I would do in the private sector. Lee Cohen, a classmate, works at Lucas Group and I'd get a call every year or so. I would've plowed through all the surveys & assessments, we would've decided that I'd make a great nuclear engineer, I would've started working for Exelon on my reactor operator's license, and my spouse would've run away screaming into the night.

Second, even if I would've started a military subcontractor career at HECO someplace on Oahu then my active-duty spouse, no longer anchored by her co-located active-duty military husband, would've been sent to a year's unaccompanied tour forecasting the flight weather out of Diego Garcia. That would've sucked. That had a lot to do with keeping us both on active duty, although in retrospect it was more years of suffering than the tour would have been.

Third, I eventually would've figured out the Navy Reserve and stayed on semi-continuous active duty of one form or another. That could even have morphed into some sort of contractor or civil-service career but spouse and I would still have been fighting her assignment officer. She probably would've eventually pulled chocks for the Reserve also.

So I don't think I would have done better financially in the private sector, but the quality of life would probably have been better.

The biggest impact on our ER was being a dual-wage couple with no kids and no liberty to spend our paychecks. The second-biggest impact on our ER was the world's greatest bull market to compound all that DCA while we were LBYM.
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Old 07-09-2007, 10:22 PM   #25
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Good question.

First, I had no freakin' idea what I would do in the private sector. Lee Cohen, a classmate, works at Lucas Group and I'd get a call every year or so. I would've plowed through all the surveys & assessments, we would've decided that I'd make a great nuclear engineer, I would've started working for Exelon on my reactor operator's license, and my spouse would've run away screaming into the night.

Second, even if I would've started a military subcontractor career at HECO someplace on Oahu then my active-duty spouse, no longer anchored by her co-located active-duty military husband, would've been sent to a year's unaccompanied tour forecasting the flight weather out of Diego Garcia. That would've sucked. That had a lot to do with keeping us both on active duty, although in retrospect it was more years of suffering than the tour would have been.

Third, I eventually would've figured out the Navy Reserve and stayed on semi-continuous active duty of one form or another. That could even have morphed into some sort of contractor or civil-service career but spouse and I would still have been fighting her assignment officer. She probably would've eventually pulled chocks for the Reserve also.

So I don't think I would have done better financially in the private sector, but the quality of life would probably have been better.

The biggest impact on our ER was being a dual-wage couple with no kids and no liberty to spend our paychecks. The second-biggest impact on our ER was the world's greatest bull market to compound all that DCA while we were LBYM.
I would say having 2 officer retirement pensions rocks too!
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Old 07-09-2007, 11:21 PM   #26
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...I invite those folks to come help me completely dissasemble, inspect & reassemble a 30mm seven barrel GAU-8 gun system from an A-10 attack aircraft...
As the proud owner of a display GAU-8 round, I say 'sign me up!' That was always my favorite plane, which I think bummed my dad out a bit since he was a crew chief at Red Flag when they were flying F-5's.
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Old 07-09-2007, 11:53 PM   #27
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Anyone happen to know if being a disabled veteran, if I would qualify (and the wife) for one of Tri-care programs? I can go to the VA, but at the moment the wife does not have medical insurance. Plus I need something for traveling out of the country.
I do not know for sure (there might be a loophole), but I think you'd have to be retired to qualify for Tricare (and a medical retirement short of 20 years would also certainly qualify you).
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Old 07-10-2007, 12:03 AM   #28
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While the grass certainly looks greener from your side of the fence, I'd encourage you not to hang around strictly for the pension benefits. Getting to 20 can take a huge physical & mental toll if it's a bad duty station or a tough family situation, and the stress can literally kill. Stick around as long as you're having fun, but if you insist on staying until retirement then at least consider doing so in the Reserves or the National Guard.
On the other hand--jumping off prior to 20 has a real price. When you are between age 42 and 65 you are likely to be in good health, have plenty of energy, and maybe even still have a youngster at home to enjoy. It is a wonderful thing to be able to be home and/or travel and enjoy yourself under these conditions. Obviously, if AD is doing serious damage to you or your family, then separating from AD makes sense. But, if you can grit your teeth and stick it out, there is a payoff.

I've seen folks kick themselves later for making either choice, so there's no canned answer.
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Old 07-10-2007, 07:48 AM   #29
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No regrets here as I KNOW I could NOT have done it better on the "outside". HS Dropout (9th grade). Army took me at 17 years old. 21 years 2 months later I "retired" after attaining HS, 4 year BS Degree 6 enlisted promotions (SFC E7 in 7 years) and 4 Warrant Officer promotions (appointment and CW4 in 10 years). Retired at 38 years old. I am VERY thankful for the honor to have served and VERY appreciative of the benefits it has and continues to provide me and my family.
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Old 07-20-2007, 09:54 PM   #30
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Just wanted to update anyone interested in the Niagara Falls Trip. Made it up there for 3 days and 2 nights. The Air Force Lodge was just fine accommodations. Called them the Thursday before trying to get a reservation for the following Tuesday and Wednesday nights. No problem they had room. The site was very nice, room for 3, with Refrigerator, Microwave, Coffee Maker, Iron and Ironing board, Washer and Dryer available for use. Base Exchange and meals available. Site is about 8 miles and all of about 15 minutes from the Niagara Falls Park. Great trip, talked my Granddaughter into Canada without ID and back into the USA the same day. If you are military or retired military this is a good site to consider. The cost was all of $33 a night (cheaper than staying home). Additionally, site is about 50 miles from Fort Drum, NY.
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Old 07-21-2007, 08:34 AM   #31
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I'd like to see somebody out there in July in Texas in 100 degree heat, high 90's humidity, wearing a charcoal-lined chemical warfare suit (you'd have to experience it to understand) ...
You tell it marty! And those Army/Navy guys think all we did was play golf. So what's your handicap?
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Old 07-21-2007, 05:23 PM   #32
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I remember when I went to 2 weeks of nuclear, biological, chemical school in Ft Dix, NJ in AUG.

Part of the class was doing land navigation in full chem suit (MOPP4) and walking about 4Ks. Both temp and humidity was in the high 90s.

I'd walk a few steps, than have to drain the sweat from inside my chemical mask.

Don't miss that one bit!
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Old 07-21-2007, 05:32 PM   #33
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I remember when I went to 2 weeks of nuclear, biological, chemical school in Ft Dix, NJ in AUG.

Part of the class was doing land navigation in full chem suit (MOPP4) and walking about 4Ks. Both temp and humidity was in the high 90s.
And what idiot designed those whacky NBC overboots that were issued at least through the mid-1990's? The ones with the laces that went from some grommets at heel to some grommets at the front, and had to be laced up in a particular way. The bottoms extended about 3/4" farther than your boot sole all the way around, and they flapped against each other and everything else when you walked. When I got to Korea the US Army was just handing out regular galoshes--much cheaper, much more comfortable, and no complicated lacing procedure.
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Old 07-21-2007, 05:42 PM   #34
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Those were horrible. If I had a buck for every time I tripped or saw someone trip...

I don't remember when we stopped using those and started using the goloshes but it was great. Assuming you got them a couple sizes larger...
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Old 07-29-2007, 12:21 AM   #35
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Hello all, just stumbled on this board searching for "Military Retiree" in g**gle... great board and an outstanding asset for information.

Currently have 21 years in the Army, will be retiring in about a year...

One of the other perks that is often overlooked is the education... while on active duty, currently the Army pays $4500 per year for tuition assistance and with the eArmyU, (I'm sure the other services have similar programs), they now even pay for your books... A 20 year career in the Army is worth $90,000 in just education benefits (not including the GI Bill after you retire)....
That's while on active duty...

If you happen to live near a military installation, as a retiree, you can take advantage of the 8 week versus 16 week term and get the reduced rate for tuition (usually the same as active duty rates) while using your GI Bill, which currently is about $1,050 per month if going to school full time for 36 months...
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Old 07-29-2007, 01:36 PM   #36
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Not sure if it's been posted, but another good deal are USO waiting lounges at some airports. Houston has a nice one, with easy chairs, magazines, coffee and snacks, and wireless.
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Old 07-30-2007, 04:35 PM   #37
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Nice report on Niagara Falls N Wood.


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Additionally, site is about 50 miles from Fort Drum, NY.
Are you sure about the 50 mile comment? It seems to me that NF is in western NY and CD (Watertown) is in Northern NY. Maybe 150-200 or so miles (just a guess).

I will definitely make this stop as part of my next NY state trip.
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Old 07-30-2007, 06:22 PM   #38
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Yes Mickeyd -- Just checked Map Quest it is more like 238 miles. Don't know where I got the 50 miles from.
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