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Question for Military retiree
Old 07-06-2007, 12:42 PM   #1
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Question for Military retiree

I know about the pension plan, but can someone tell me about the other perks about retiring from the military? Also about the negatives, that you might have planned for but it turned out different then you thought.

I would like to know rough numbers (for ex. 1. + Health insurance rates are lower, the average insurance $450-$750.)

But any answers would be appreciated. Thanks
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Old 07-06-2007, 01:43 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by RLTW View Post
I know about the pension plan, but can someone tell me about the other perks about retiring from the military? Also about the negatives, that you might have planned for but it turned out different then you thought.

I would like to know rough numbers (for ex. 1. + Health insurance rates are lower, the average insurance $450-$750.)

But any answers would be appreciated. Thanks
The Pension is the biggest advantage, IMHO, but you know about that. Health care is the next biggest advantage, though some retired military might question just how much of an advantage it is. I've never had problems with military health care, though you may want to check a thread on this I started in the Health section.

As a retiree you have three plans to choose from. 1) Tricare Prime, an HMO-type plan in which you use military facilities (if available) for free or a very low copay for inpatient, 2) Tricare Standard, in which you have a choice of civilian doctors but pay 25% of allowable with a $3000 yearly cap, and 3) Tricare Extra which is like Standard but with a 20% copay for doctors within a network. The enrollment costs per year are a few hundred dollars (e.g., $230 for Prime). Rather than explain them in detail, here is a link:
TRICARE - Military Health Care - Military Benefits - Military.com

Other benefits include using the Morale Welfare and Recreation (MWR) facilities on any military base, including golf courses, marinas, gymansiums, camping sites, and base exchange and commissary. Gyms are usually free, while the other rec facilities charge but are cheaper than civilian faciltiies. I would guess they are 15-25% less than comparable civilian facilities. Exchanges and commissaries are cheaper than traditional grocery stores, but not necessarily cheaper than discount stores.

You can also use space available seats on military aircraft that happen to be going to where you want to go, but I don't know many people who actually take advantage of this. The problem is you may have a hard time getting back, and you need a very loose schedule.

Other benefits? The pride of knowing you served your country and the knowledge that if they ever called you would go back, though in my case I would need a larger waistline in my uniforms.

Disadvantages? Can't think of any -- not for retirees. There are obvious disadvantages while active duty, family separations, on call 24/7, limited choice of jobs and locations, etc, but once you punch all of that is behind.
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Old 07-06-2007, 02:02 PM   #3
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RLTW,
- Great name you picked! And yes, Rangers Lead the Way!
- SoontoRetire hit the biggies. I'd add that USAA insurance/banking is very nice (though you don't have to be retired to have access).
- Regarding the pension: The fact that it is inflation indexed and guaranteed by the US government put it into an entirely different league from most private pensions. This allows many of us to feel comfortable investing a larger portion of our retirement savings into higher-risk (and higher-return) areas( stocks instead of a higher %age of bonds, etc). This translates into real money over time.
- I get a lot of use out of the base woodworking shop. I never had much time for this on active duty. And, they have the perfect tools: Professional-grade, and somebody else does the sharpening!
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Old 07-06-2007, 02:06 PM   #4
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Just thought of another advantage. The right to be an armchair general and bitc provide constructive criticism about the course our country is taking, the way the military is not like it was in the old days, and the SNAFU things done in the military.
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Old 07-06-2007, 02:40 PM   #5
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Old 07-06-2007, 02:42 PM   #6
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I retired from AD on 7/1/1979 so I have been through it pre-Tricare (when you had to purchase your medical coverage either though a supplement to CHAMPUS if you did not have access to a military facility). Tricare, IMO, was the best thing to happen to retired military and purchased prime all the time I needed it (you knew exactly what you were paying). Since I am now over 65 Tricare for Life supplements MEDICARE so our out of pocket expense are currently 0 (if you do not count the MEDICARE Part B preimums). The COLA'd Retired Pay (I do not know why some insist on calling it a Pension as the VA pays pensions) is the best of all of the benefits. As a real-life example my Retired Pay has increased 273% over the past 28 years.
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Old 07-06-2007, 02:47 PM   #7
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Besides the retirement pay that is COLAd, I'd agree that Tricare Prime, at a cost of $230 annually per person, is a great deal with free RX included.

One benefit that is often overlooked is the fact that you can stay at temporary military lodging facilities around the world. If you do any traveling, this can amount to an excellent benefit. You can reserve rooms in advance and avoid steep local taxes with low rates. See below for more details. They publish a nice guide that you can usually buy at the Exchange for about $10. Military Living Publications link.
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Old 07-06-2007, 05:23 PM   #8
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I know about the pension plan, but can someone tell me about the other perks about retiring from the military? Also about the negatives, that you might have planned for but it turned out different then you thought.
Ross, is that you? I thought your leave was over-- aren't you back in training now?

Just kidding. The best rundown I've ever seen on military benefits (retired and otherwise) is Chris Michel's "The Military Advantage" (see Military.com). There may be a copy at a local library or on base, but it's incredibly comprehensive.

I've been pleasantly surprised at our civilian medical clinic, especially by the energy and inquisitiveness of the residents. No way would I go back to our local military facility unless I was hemorrhaging after hours. However the quality of care can vary widely by location, not all civilian doctors want to deal with TRICARE, and even the local VA clinic may be top-notch.

I've learned that our local personnel support detachment expects every customer, no matter their status, to dress in appropriate business attire. When I went in to renew our daughter's ID card I was kicked out by a petty tyrant for having the audacity, in Hawaii, to wear a tank top. I brought a windbreaker back inside, donned & zipped it up in the waiting area, and completed our business. Hopefully everyone will have transferred before I need to go in there again.

Your pension can be boosted by receiving the Purple Heart or the Medal of Honor. I mention this trivia because many guys feel that it's a good macho idea to turn down a Purple Heart, but if you earned it then it can put a little extra in your pension check. Assuming you survive the experience.

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.
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Old 07-06-2007, 05:38 PM   #9
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Your pension can be boosted by receiving the Purple Heart or the Medal of Honor.
How does that work Nords? I got a PH years ago, but I do not believe it factored into my retire pay?
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Old 07-06-2007, 06:05 PM   #10
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How does that work Nords? I got a PH years ago, but I do not believe it factored into my retire pay?
It boosts your VA priority to Group 3 (I and many others are currently Group 8):
VA Health Care Eligibility - Military Benefits - Military.com

It earns additional points for federal (and many states) civil-service hiring priority:
Careers

It can affect combat-related special compensation:
http://www.military.com/ContentFiles...nt_HR_1588.htm
Retirees Due Back Pay

Utah will waive undergraduate tuition fees:
Military Report - Utah Offers Tuition Waivers

In Hawaii it can get you a special vanity license plate, too. And I bet a good VA ferret could find at least that much more!

The PH is supposed to be on your DD214, and that's supposed to make your name pop up in all the databases. I don't know about your DD214, but mine was so full that I had to squabble with BUPERS and the personnel people to make sure that everything got on there.

Another source of this type of info is the discussion board at GruntsMilitary.com. They're a pretty rough & gruff bunch who tend to shoot first and ask questions later (I was banned after my first post!) but they're a wealth of info about working the VA and the retirement system.
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Old 07-06-2007, 07:12 PM   #11
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Here is the "facts" on the PH Payments: CRSC FAQ's
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Old 07-06-2007, 08:06 PM   #12
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I hope you're aware, also, that if you are over 50% disabled they changed the law so you can get concurrent VA compensation and military retirement:

Concurrent Retirement and Disabilty Pay (CRDP) Overview - Military Benefits - Military.com
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Old 07-07-2007, 07:39 AM   #13
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I just retired from the National Guard. I have just over 19 years until I start collecting my retirement check and am eligible for tricare.

A lot can change in 19 years. I hope with the amount of new combat veterans and all the support for the troops that benefits are increased, and not cut.

As a gray area retiree I can, and do, use the commissary, PX (online and in person), MWR etc. It helps that I work on a small Navy base. The base also has an auto shop, that I will try out shortly. I think they shut down the wood working shop. They also have a nice marina (cheap!), tho I am too chicken to take my boat on the ocean for now.

I can only take advantage of the space A travel by myself. My spouse is only able to join me when I turn 60.
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Old 07-07-2007, 11:13 AM   #14
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Ok, thanks Nords. It seems to affect the benefits of retirement, but not the retired pay that a service member receives upon retirement.
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Old 07-07-2007, 01:34 PM   #15
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Ok, thanks Nords. It seems to affect the benefits of retirement, but not the retired pay that a service member receives upon retirement.
Only the CRSC effect, which may be negligible.

IIRC a MOH awardee gets a 10% boost to their pension, but that program may no longer be around. Considering how many MOHs are posthumous it's probably not considered worthy of publicizing.
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Old 07-07-2007, 07:29 PM   #16
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More on temporary lodging facilities, or billeting as we call in the Air Force world....I just got back from a 1 week school at Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station, in New York. It's right outside town of Niagara Falls, which is of course, right across the river from Canada and all of the Falls attractions stuff. It's a great place to vacation, and I'll go back sometime for a full-on visit free from the encumbrances of w##k. There are lots of hotels on both sides of the border, the nicer ones on the Canadian side. But.....the best thing going is that only 5 or so minutes from the Falls is this little base, with an excellent billeting facility, very nice rooms with king bed, fridge, microwave, nice carpets & pics on the wall, very nice indeed, with some great looking & friendly young ladies working the front desk for your convenience, I'm talking first rate place, for the small sum of $33 per night U.S. I highly reccommend this place if you're authorized. In 30 years service, I've stayed all over the US & various other countries. Some real nice places, a very few s**tholes. Nowadays, they're mostly pretty nice. I don't reccommend the Navy Billeting at Key West, of course it may have changed since I was there in 1985......
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Old 07-07-2007, 07:39 PM   #17
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Marty, thanks for the tip on Niagara Falls. This might be a good thread, to share good and bad space A billeting experiences. I had a good experience at the Annapolis naval lodge, across the Severn from the Academy. It's $69 but that's a lot cheaper than any other equivalent place in Annapolis, it's only a few miles from downtown, and it's been renovated.

Here is another deal, I haven't tried it but am intrigued -- it's a set of condo timeshares available for active and retired military, the Armed Forces Vacation Club. They have places all over the world for $329 a week.

Armed Forces Vacation Club
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Old 07-07-2007, 08:00 PM   #18
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Here is another deal, I haven't tried it but am intrigued -- it's a set of condo timeshares available for active and retired military, the Armed Forces Vacation Club. They have places all over the world for $329 a week.

Armed Forces Vacation Club
They're consolidators, so they usually get their best deals on shorter notice.

Great organization-- we use AFVC for interisland vacations. Used to be $299/week; they only recently raised their prices.
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Old 07-09-2007, 01:11 PM   #19
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I have been thinking about a trip to Niagara Falls for about a year now. We were going next week and based on the comment here called up to the AF Station at Niagara Falls. My thinking was that they would be booked far in advance, but, they said "no problem"; next week two days check in 2 PM check out 11 AM, 15 minutes from the Falls (shuttle bus available). Room has Refrigerator, Iron and Ironing Board (anyone know what these are?) and a Coffee Maker. There is a BX also on the installation. The site is co-located with the Niagara Falls International Airport (not the Buffalo one). Cost: $33.00 a night for 3 of us. Needless to say we are going to go. (DW, DGD (Granddaughter) and I).
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Old 07-09-2007, 05:17 PM   #20
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Thanks everyone for the information. First I will never use the phase “pension” again when I am speaking of Cola’d Retirement Pay(thanks R Wood). I forgot about all the good deals on lodging, and I can use that information now to save some money on my vacations. Also, Nords – So do you think you would have been better off if you left the Navy and went to the private sector? Would you have been able to retire at 42?
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