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Retiring early after being in command...prescription for a freak out?
Old 02-20-2007, 07:09 AM   #1
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Retiring early after being in command...prescription for a freak out?

I honestly don't think I will have one moment of identity crisis when I lay down my responsibility for multi-million dollar budgets and dozens of direct reports, and the authority to make decisions that took me almost thirty years to work up to be entrusted to make. I am very ready to be just another guy in the supermarket, to everyone else. But I understand it might be very traumatic for some folks, esp military.

I am not sure I buy the idea that Astronut Lisa Nowak's weirdness was related to her being over the hump of her own career or not, but maybe it's a factor...

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I have seen command master chiefs deflate at their retirements as if they’ve lost 20 pounds just standing at the podium. I’ve seen a submarine captain crumple after walking across the brow of his boat for the last time.

Despite the solid Transition Assistance Program provided by the military, retirees in their 40s often lose their emotional footing for the first couple of years after leaving the service. One retired chief told me it was as if the foundation under his house sank 10 inches on one side so that everything heavy tipped away from the walls.
http://content.hamptonroads.com/stor...757&ran=241289
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Re: Retiring early after being in command...prescription for a freak out?
Old 02-20-2007, 07:22 AM   #2
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Re: Retiring early after being in command...prescription for a freak out?

Good article. And I've seen the tearful goodbye speeches too, being retired military myself. If someone has not lived a balanced life, and his entire reason for being is tied up in career identity, then that person will have a difficult transition to the next chapter of life.

I felt lost for a little while after retiring, but then I started going camping every weekend with the hubs, and quickly recovered. I rarely think about the old days now, except in relief that its over! DRiP Guy, you sound like you'll do just fine with your transition to real life. See you at the supermarket!
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Re: Retiring early after being in command...prescription for a freak out?
Old 02-20-2007, 11:02 AM   #3
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Re: Retiring early after being in command...prescription for a freak out?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Leslie
Good article.
...
See you at the supermarket!

I have begun thinking quite a bit lately about seeing my life as divided into two distinct parts: what has come before, and what is yet to be. And with a healthy dose of cock-eyed optimism, I am pretending they are roughly equal parts, chronologically. I find that so much more appealing than to find myself at a 'traditional' retirement time of 65/67, and only perhaps looking forward for 15 or so years left in my worn out carcass after that long haul. Thinking traditional retirement at this point would depress me to no end.

That is not to gainsay those who so much love their vocation (botanist or zookeeper? dance instructor? artist? travel guide? bush pilot?) that they are more happy to do what they earn a living at than any other thing the could do if given total freedom. I just think most of us have ended up on paths where what we do for a living has been separated from our passion. I know that off and on for short periods during various challenges and projects in my own career, I have felt totally joyfully immersed in what I was creating. But frankly for the majority of most of those years, especially the last ten or so under MegaCorp's spirit-killing oppressive presence, I have taken less and less satisfaction from what I ostensibly get paid to do.

And I am closing in on a decision that no matter how economically challenging it may be to get by, once I have the minimum required to have a reasonable chance to fully retire, I am pulling the switch.

For the last two weeks, I have been sick off and on, with this Sunday I was really going in the tank. This morning at 02:30 AM I finally went to see a doctor for the first time in 21 years (yes I have had insurance, yes I've been an idiot not to go regularly.) I got diagnosed with acute bronchitis. I got a chest X-ray, a shot in the butt, some nebulizer treatment, and some scripts. I will be taking steroids, antibiotics, and some narcotic cough stuff. They say in four days to a week, I'll likely be okay again. But I think the stress from work has got my immune system run down, and that is why I got sick. I don't smoke, no allergies, and generally can shake off a cold in one day or two. But I am starting to think that paradoxically, staying around to have health insurance covered free may be making me more prone to need it, going forward. I've gained an unhealthy amount of weight since becoming a manager, whereas I used to be able to run ten miles, and cycle a century, I now just don't have the energy to exercise.

Sorry this post is now running along now towards being off my own topic, but I think it is helping me to just get some of this down.

8)





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Re: Retiring early after being in command...prescription for a freak out?
Old 02-20-2007, 11:22 AM   #4
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Re: Retiring early after being in command...prescription for a freak out?

If your identity is tied up in your career, you will have difficulties. I retired as a CEO, but I had been another CEO before, and a consultant, and an executive with a large tech company before that.

It is generally unhealthy to relate too much to just one aspect of your being. When I was a beaver leader (Hawkeye) everyone in the community with young boys knew me. I was special. When my boys grew up and we moved, I never again connected with a community like that.

There are many ways to feel involved and making a contribution. These days, think about 3 phases of life:
30 years learning
30 years earning
30 years playing
and each phase has the same variety and challenges as the others...
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Re: Retiring early after being in command...prescription for a freak out?
Old 02-20-2007, 01:30 PM   #5
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Re: Retiring early after being in command...prescription for a freak out?

Mega Corp management positions are poison. Most give you maximum stress with no relief and minimal gratification for working your a$$ off for 30+ years all for the Brass Ring at the end (healthcare insurance, 401k, pension, stock options, etc.). Some die in the saddle and never get the very thing they worked so many hours under so many lousy bosses to earn. Others take the money and run once they hit the magic age with the correct years of service. No one I have known the ERd from my former MegaCorp has regretted the choice. Most are happier and healthier now.

There is life after management. It is different to be sure and may take some getting used to. Much like withdrawing from a toxic additive substance; leaving Mega Corp management will create some side effects as you rid your body of the toxins and stress of that life. Then the skies will open and the sun will shine on you greeting you into so new life.

I can hardly wait for my turn!!!!
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Re: Retiring early after being in command...prescription for a freak out?
Old 02-20-2007, 01:47 PM   #6
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Re: Retiring early after being in command...prescription for a freak out?

Quote:
Originally Posted by DRiP Guy

I have begun thinking quite a bit lately about seeing my life as divided into two distinct parts: what has come before, and what is yet to be.





Just follow that thought, one way I try to 'be here now' is I say to myself 'its always half time'. If you're always enjoying 'now', it doesn't get any better.

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Re: Retiring early after being in command...prescription for a freak out?
Old 02-20-2007, 01:50 PM   #7
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Re: Retiring early after being in command...prescription for a freak out?

Quote:
It makes me wonder about military retirees who find their way from flying helicopters and walking the decks and commanding platoons to working for SAIC and Northrop Grumman and writing code in a cubicle. How do they do it? How long does it take? Is there any way to make it easier, or is it just something you go through without popping up on the cover of People magazine?
She writes well, but I think it's hard to assign a lot of credibility to a rhetorical retirement question asked by a working journalist-- who's probably on deadline.

I've been to far more than my share of military retirement ceremonies where steely-eyed killers of the deep were shamelessly bawling their eyes out in front of hundreds of their closest shipmates & family. It was hard to compare that behavior to the time you spent alongside them on your last mission... or on your last Olongapo run. Some of these people were pretty sure that their request to remain on active duty was hung up at SECNAV or Congress and they were waiting on that last-minute phone call giving them a full pardon from being executed retired.

Frequently their spouses had tears in their eyes, too, but that was sometimes because they realized they'd actually have to start living with these people now.

To answer her/your questions, it happens two ways. In the first method, they retire and wait for the offers to roll in. After a while they cherrypick one and become a consultant for a defense contractor. Personally it's a little hard to figure out exactly what they do, but they'd die before they'd consider retiring. If they retire from a company then they immediately end up running charities or other non-profits. These guys (and they're almost all guys except for Marty Evans) are all over the world and they're mostly retired flag officers.

In the second method, they start method #1 but the phone just doesn't ring that way. After a couple months' restless indolence (we call it "terminal leave") they realize they'd better get a j*b and they go find their notes from the transition class. Soon afterward they jumpstart their contact network they're a defense contractor. Maybe someday they'll leverage up to defense consultant or even executive but many of them just work for a few years to feather the nest egg and launch the kids or wait for the spouse to retire.

But those two-method guys all too frequently have their egos wrapped up in who they were, not who they're going to be. They're also in the vast minority of the military retirees.

The average military retiree sees it coming a few years away. They start reading books and talking with shipmates who've made the transition. They actually plan their own transition, frequently turning down offers until they can finish their last tour, and their retirement ceremonies are celebrations with a spring in their step as they cross the brow. I may not agree with their destination but they've certainly planned the voyage at least as carefully as they took care of their troops and their careers. They're looking forward to the next stage of their lives and they don't have any problem finding people who want to work with or for them. In extremely rare cases they've deferred to their spouse's career plans. One or two of those successful military-retirement cases are posting on this discussion board because they're looking ahead to their own ERs.

Unfortunately the smallest minority of retired veterans is the group who went straight to ER. No collapsing on the brow for them, either, if they even bother with the "retirement" ceremony. In fact they're occasionally holding back the smirks as everyone concernedly inquires as to what they think they'll be doing all day because they're just too young to retire and be put out to pasture like that what a shame that you haven't found a job yet.

Or so I've heard...
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Re: Retiring early after being in command...prescription for a freak out?
Old 02-20-2007, 03:25 PM   #8
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Re: Retiring early after being in command...prescription for a freak out?

Thanks, yakers and SteveR. It means a lot to get some feedback that I am not necessarily going headlong to heck in a handbasket, with my own ER thinking. If I tried to confide (really confide) with anyone at work about how close I really am, I don't think most would understand. And the few that do might even resent the fact I am thinking about leaving the flock.
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Re: Retiring early after being in command...prescription for a freak out?
Old 02-20-2007, 03:48 PM   #9
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Re: Retiring early after being in command...prescription for a freak out?

Quote:
I've been to far more than my share of military retirement ceremonies where steely-eyed killers of the deep were shamelessly bawling their eyes out in front of hundreds of their closest shipmates & family.
I met a fellow at a street fair, of all places, a few years back. He was wearing a navy blue blazer with a little cloth quasi-nautical badge on the pocket, white pants, sailor hat, misc. pins and badges, little gold anchors, etc. etc. His outfit practically screamed: "Ask me about my Navy service."

Turns out he was a retired Rear Admiral or some such, and had been out for five years after a 30-year stint. He could talk about NOTHING but the Navy and his role in it. He gave me one of the many paper bookmarks he carried around with him. Each had his picture and stats as an Admiral copied on one side, and a picture of him as a child in a little sailor suit, complete with hat, on the other. He said he'd ALWAYS wanted to be in the Navy.

I finally had to ask him how he weathered the transition when he got out.

He said it took him three years just to want to get out of bed in the morning.
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Re: Retiring early after being in command...prescription for a freak out?
Old 02-20-2007, 03:50 PM   #10
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Re: Retiring early after being in command...prescription for a freak out?

I agree that it depends on the person. One of my friends went from XO of a NAS to a househusband. He was perfectly content to putter around the house. He said that it allowed him to show up at Circuit City on Tuesday when the new videos were released.

However, he did get a second job/career after a year, IIRC, at a small defense contractor but there weren't any crisises that drove him to it.
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Re: Retiring early after being in command...prescription for a freak out?
Old 02-20-2007, 04:10 PM   #11
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Re: Retiring early after being in command...prescription for a freak out?

Quote:
Originally Posted by DRiP Guy
... If I tried to confide (really confide) with anyone at work about how close I really am, I don't think most would understand. And the few that do might even resent the fact I am thinking about leaving the flock.

That is a problem for many of us. Several here suspect I am leaving soon...they just don't know when and I am not talking. Only one person I trust here knows it will be very soon...2-3 months tops. My current boss's boss does not know and I won't mention it to him until after the bonus payouts from last year are all paid out....March 16.

I have been here for 4 years. 3 years longer than I intended. A few know that but due to the current lack of management situation in the company I have agreed to do my previous boss's job and my job while training a new person to replace one I lost in December. I have a timetable for RE and no one is going to stop me now. I have too much to lose by staying.

As for those left behind.....tough! I paid my dues and once I finish out my "time" I am riding into the sunset. I will feel bad for those that can't leave but only for a little while. It is my time now.
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Re: Retiring early after being in command...prescription for a freak out?
Old 02-20-2007, 04:39 PM   #12
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Re: Retiring early after being in command...prescription for a freak out?

Quote:
Originally Posted by SteveR

As for those left behind.....tough! I paid my dues and once I finish out my "time" I am riding into the sunset. I will feel bad for those that can't leave but only for a little while. It is my time now.
I've posted before about a co-worker with whom I had a decade-long competition to see who would be the first to FIRE. We are the same age, both have two children the same age, and held similar positions in the company. He kept his 401k and other investments in high tech funds and individual stocks while I went conservative in late 1999 (whaddya mean, "dirty market timer"? :). I FIREd in 2005, he's still there. I just got off the phone with him after he called to bemoan the fact he won't be able to retire for at least two more years, even though he's been promoted to a very senior level and is making excellent money.

He told me his investments have recovered nicely, but he hasn't done a good job of watching his expenditures. In addition to the house he owns here, he also has a house on a golf course in FL (vacant, doesn't want to rent it out) and last year he bought a weekend place on a nearby lake. (There is an ongoing thread discussing the hassles of owning a second home...how about a third!) All three are mortgaged. He's also a "car guy". He and his wife have 4 cars...actually 5 since to celebrate his 60th birthday last month, he treated himself to a new Corvette convertible.

So when he asked me "When am I ever going to retire?", I told him the truth: "When you die." :P

Pogo was right.

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Re: Retiring early after being in command...prescription for a freak out?
Old 02-20-2007, 06:12 PM   #13
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Re: Retiring early after being in command...prescription for a freak out?

Quote:
Originally Posted by REWahoo!


So when he asked me "When am I ever going to retire?", I told him the truth: "When you die." :P

Pogo was right.

Don't hold your breath waiting for your friend to retire. Ego & Power are a strong aphrodisiac for a whole bunch of people.

I've been going through that for years with some of my friends that are still working, and coming up to our place for fly-fishing & golf.

Pretty much the same scenario for all of them. "Jarhead, you got it made".
(After taking them fishing in my old working class p/up).

A couple days later they jump in their brand new (you name it), cars
and speed down the coast to make sure they aren't late for the Monday morning power-trip breakfast & meeting.

Even though almost to a person, they state they are envious, I know down deep that the only way they will give up their "status" is by gun-point.

Just keep paying that Soc. Sec. boys, I need the money.


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Re: Retiring early after being in command...prescription for a freak out?
Old 02-20-2007, 06:18 PM   #14
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Re: Retiring early after being in command...prescription for a freak out?

Quote:
Originally Posted by REWahoo!
Pogo was right.

Just in case there are those out there who would miss your reference, I am sure you meant when he opines:

"We has met the enemy, and they is us."

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Re: Retiring early after being in command...prescription for a freak out?
Old 02-20-2007, 07:23 PM   #15
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Re: Retiring early after being in command...prescription for a freak out?

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Originally Posted by Nords
But those two-method guys all too frequently have their egos wrapped up in who they were, not who they're going to be. They're also in the vast minority of the military retirees.
You've met my FIL! He never retired until we checked him into the assisted living facility with Alzheimer's. Retired brigadier and VP -- followed by multiple appointments to public boards and commissions for the county, city and school district.

His wife is currently in the adjacent nursing home. I don't think they ever took a real vacation since their honeymoon -- and that was probably at an air force base.

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Re: Retiring early after being in command...prescription for a freak out?
Old 02-21-2007, 08:15 AM   #16
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Re: Retiring early after being in command...prescription for a freak out?

Quote:

he also has a house on a golf course in FL (vacant, doesn't want to rent it out) and last year he bought a weekend place on a nearby lake. (There is an ongoing thread discussing the hassles of owning a second home...how about a third!)
Maybe he needs someone to check on the place(s) .
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Re: Retiring early after being in command...prescription for a freak out?
Old 02-21-2007, 09:35 PM   #17
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Re: Retiring early after being in command...prescription for a freak out?

I've got over 37 years as a LEO, currently chief of police for a small Cape Cod town. Still enjoy what I'm doing, but will have to pull the pin in around four years (65 mandatory retirement). Might leave earlier, hard to say. No debts, house paid off, so money isn't the issue. Just can't quite figure what I'm gonna do when I finally have to grow up....


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Re: Retiring early after being in command...prescription for a freak out?
Old 02-22-2007, 06:26 AM   #18
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Re: Retiring early after being in command...prescription for a freak out?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nords


The average military retiree sees it coming a few years away. They start reading books and talking with shipmates who've made the transition. They actually plan their own transition, frequently turning down offers until they can finish their last tour, finding people who want to work with or for them. In extremely rare cases they've deferred to their spouse's career plans.

Unfortunately the smallest minority of retired veterans is the group who went straight to ER. No collapsing on the brow for them, either, if they even bother with the "retirement" ceremony. In fact they're occasionally holding back the smirks as everyone concernedly inquires as to what they think they'll be doing all day because they're just too young to retire and be put out to pasture like that what a shame that you haven't found a job yet.
Boy this really hits home. I am in this process right now for a couple of more years. I am asked several times a week when are you able to retire and come talk to me first when you do. While flattering, when I step back and think about it I really don't think I want this path.

As for CINC house's career plans she is very successful and I can really see the value of changing roles with her and taking up the slack at home which I am glad to do. Of course I am trying to talk her into slowing that down also so we can go straight to ER. I think her working may cut into our family play time. But that is her decision as I am very supportive of her success and realize that she is a big reason ER will be possible. Maybe when she sees me and the boys off traveling or something she will get the urge to join us. I can show here every angle that we are clean on the ER financial side but she will decide when she is ready.

As I begin to tell folks I am considering hanging it up or just working part time during the school year after I retire from the military they think I am nuts. There is no way you will be able to do that they tell me. At times doubt creeps back in but so far I have been able to stay positive about it and the folks on this board really help.

As for a retirement ceremony I think I will have one to reflect on the good times and also close that chapter in our life. I don't want no cheesy gifts or congratulations letter from the CINC (if a certain person wins the next election). As for a shadow box I will fix it myself with the memories I want hanging in our office when I am ready.

No worries here as my signature will not include my rank, USAF (ret) after my name.

Tomcat98

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Re: Retiring early after being in command...prescription for a freak out?
Old 02-22-2007, 07:38 AM   #19
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Re: Retiring early after being in command...prescription for a freak out?

Rich & other LEO's, I've got a friend who is currently a County Sheriff and plans on retiring in 3 years. He'll be in his late 50's with 35 years service.

He said that he has already attended classes on how to "decompress" when he does retire. These classes were made available to law enforcement retirees when it was discovered that their life expectency wasn't as high as the general population. Accumulated stress, they have to be taught how to relax.

I also know a CEO that went away to a class for two weeks before he retired. He seems to be doing well, but he has had hobbies all along too.
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Re: Retiring early after being in command...prescription for a freak out?
Old 02-22-2007, 08:25 AM   #20
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Re: Retiring early after being in command...prescription for a freak out?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tomcat98
I am asked several times a week when are you able to retire and come talk to me first when you do. While flattering, when I step back and think about it I really don't think I want this path.
You think it's a lot now, in a couple years you're gonna have to start beating 'em off with a stick. And a second wave after you retire when the six-month ethics window expires. It does wonderful things for one's ego.

But you know what you're doing, and your wife seems to be having a great time with her turn in the money barrel! Everybody wins in this situation...

When I retired I got a full-court press from a shipmate who runs a nuclear-engineer training program (refer to my earlier rants about self-assessment & career-survey diagnostics). Four years later, both he and my spouse are Navy Reservists in adjacent billets who'll be working closely together for at least the next year. We'll all be at a conference next week (I'm carrying spouse's luggage) and I'm hoping to buy him a frosty beverage or two in exchange for him sharing his thoughts on the old situation and how well he was able to find anyone else to take care of it. He's always enjoyed the finer things in life and has the expenses to show for it but who knows, maybe he'll be receptive to an ER full-court press from my side.
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