Another military retiree gets it.
I don't know if the rest of you are having this problem, but people keep taking my "only" copy of Work Less, Live More. So I've started handing them out at retirement ceremonies.
Last Friday was a nice one. The USS MISSOURI Memorial (moored on Ford Island's Battleship Row next to the USS ARIZONA) sets up a huge awning on the fantail along with a podium, sound system, & display tables. There's plenty of shady seating with room for sideboys, the band, & the color guard. Gentle tradewinds blow through the ceremony, which is punctuated with passing submarines (ships too) and the occasional tour group. It's a great way to enjoy a slice of living history, and it really makes you reflect on your career and your culture. After all those years of sweating my butt off in parade-ground formations, it's also a nice way to relax for an hour's nostalgic entertainment.
My shipmate Don, a native Hawaiian, retired after 30 years of service. To put that in perspective, he enlisted (Delayed Entry Program) in 1975 as the Vietnamese ended the Vietnam War. He started boot camp the following spring and celebrated the nation's bicentennial at his first command. He has over 15 years of sea duty and, as a retired CWO4, he'll collect about $52K/year pension. He also collected a bachelor's degree and has almost finished his master's in secondary education. Along the way he & his wife raised six kids and are enjoying two grandchildren. Even you veterans would have been impressed with the pile of awards, certificates, letters, & memorabilia. The shadow box was three feet square and every inch was full. His American & Hawaiian flags flew over both the MISSOURI and the ARIZONA (the Navy's beginning and the end of WWII). His kids' present was a three-inch-thick scrapbook and a display board full of their memories of his career.
We joke that he retired because he was worried about finishing his thesis, but I think he actually gets ER. They still have three kids in the house but they've been launching OK and they can finish the project on his retirement pay. Even after his degree they have lots of other things they want to do and I'm hoping that Bob's book shows Don that he doesn't have to mess up his life with a full-time job. He knows some great surfing spots around Makaha & west side, too, so I'm hoping that he'll use some of his time to pass that on to me...
The reception was even more impressive than the ceremony. For the first time in over three weeks it wasn't raining. Don was in the Supply Corps so the food was top-notch. The reception music was CDs of modern Hawaiian classics-- Iz, Kalapana, Cecilio & Kapono, and Na Leo Pilimehana. We sat on the second floor of the Marina Club, gazing past the ohia-log pillars out past the open lanai over the Rainbow Bay Marina, the Ford Island causeway, and the rest of Pearl Harbor. We could see mountains from Diamond Head all the way along the Ko'olau and across to the Waianae. I didn't even recognize two shipmates (we've all been growing what's left of our hair) and we had a good time catching up on the last five years.
Other shipmates and active-duty military were educational in another way. One woman just moved from one GS billet to another-- her second move in five years-- and was darn glad to have a lateral transfer amid the consolidations. Ironically she's in HR & manpower yet somehow she just can't figure out how to stop spending, to put more in the TSP, and to have enough to retire. She could be working into her 70s but she's starting to notice that she's getting invited to a lot of retirement ceremonies, so she had a lot of questions. We talked for nearly 30 minutes and I gave her the E-R.org link to Bob's book.
An active-duty O-5 was extremely surprised to learn that I'd retired at a lower rank. I made a comment about my spouse leaving active duty after 17 years and it turned out that he was at the same point in his service and that he was about a year from his transfer. We both knew that his assignment officer had no interest in finding a good job for someone who would never "have the guts" to resign just short of retirement rather than face an ugly job. He says he's going to miss Hawaii but he hopes it's not because he's in Korea. Now he knows about the ER board, too.
Of course my retirement gift was a copy of WLLM, but I could easily have stacked a pile of them by the door for the other 150 guests. It was nice to celebrate Don's retirement, but it was even more enjoyable to see how far we've come in the last four years. Aside from my spouse he's the only military ER that I know on the island, and it'll be nice to see where the next four years lead.
The book written on E-R.org, "The Military Guide to Financial Independence and Retirement", on sale now! For more info see "About Me" in my profile.
I don't spend much time here anymore, so please send me a PM. Thanks.