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Old 07-21-2012, 05:14 PM   #41
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I get 39% of my High Three average civilian pay for life though indexing the benefit doesn't start until I'm 62. There's also an option, with a reduction in annuity, that is like military SBP; lets my spouse get 50% of my civil service annuity if I die first. I bought back ~20.5 yrs for civil service. Your Minimum Retirement Age (MRA), 57 sounds about right for you, is when you can get an unreduced retirement. Check the OPM site; you can retire earlier than MRA if you meet specific age/years standards, but with a reduction or delay in annuity. I retired at 58.5 years oid. That means I get my civilian annuity now, but not my military annuity until the beginning of 2014. For health care, I keep my FEHB Blue Cross coverage until I'm a retired military guy when I'll suspend (not cancel) my FEHB coverage and go to Tricare. I don't know much about your situation...location, job, support for your military participation from your civilian leadership, your career desires/plans...but one approach would be to fence some of your severance to buyback your AD time, work until at least MRA (57) and continue your military career, unit or IMA, at least long enough to qualify for a military retirement. As time goes on, other doors may open and you can adjust your plan. As mentioned by Nords, TSP is an outstanding benefit and contributing enough to at least get the 5% matching should be a priority. You also have the new Roth TSP option to ponder. Lastly, if you qualify for a military retirement, I believe DFAS will recoup the pretax amount of your severance pay from your military annuity (max rate of 40% of the monthly amount) once you start receiving that check. Check this link for the DFAS guidance: http://comptroller.defense.gov/fmr/07b/07b_04.pdf.
Lots of things to consider as you look at choices, but, since you currently have a GS-13 position (I assume a permanent appointment), you have a good platform from which to formulate your plan.
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Old 07-22-2012, 11:54 PM   #42
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From what you've read, it looks like a good deal. I'm afraid that this is way outside my area of expertise, and I don't know the pitfalls.

I'd have two concerns:
1. Even as a GS-13 I'd be worried about the drawdown. If you bought your service, what would happen in the case of a RIF?
2. I'd commit the money at the last possible moment.

If you don't get the "been there, done that" answers from this forum, you could also try one of Linkedin's veterans forums.
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Old 07-23-2012, 08:53 AM   #43
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Originally Posted by Nords View Post
From what you've read, it looks like a good deal. I'm afraid that this is way outside my area of expertise, and I don't know the pitfalls.

I'd have two concerns:
1. Even as a GS-13 I'd be worried about the drawdown. If you bought your service, what would happen in the case of a RIF?
2. I'd commit the money at the last possible moment.

If you don't get the "been there, done that" answers from this forum, you could also try one of Linkedin's veterans forums.
1. I can get a full refund back of my deposit.
2. I agree. I won't pay it until 2/10/15.
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Old 07-23-2012, 08:57 AM   #44
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Originally Posted by Greg V View Post
I get 39% of my High Three average civilian pay for life though indexing the benefit doesn't start until I'm 62. There's also an option, with a reduction in annuity, that is like military SBP; lets my spouse get 50% of my civil service annuity if I die first. I bought back ~20.5 yrs for civil service. Your Minimum Retirement Age (MRA), 57 sounds about right for you, is when you can get an unreduced retirement. Check the OPM site; you can retire earlier than MRA if you meet specific age/years standards, but with a reduction or delay in annuity. I retired at 58.5 years oid. That means I get my civilian annuity now, but not my military annuity until the beginning of 2014. For health care, I keep my FEHB Blue Cross coverage until I'm a retired military guy when I'll suspend (not cancel) my FEHB coverage and go to Tricare. I don't know much about your situation...location, job, support for your military participation from your civilian leadership, your career desires/plans...but one approach would be to fence some of your severance to buyback your AD time, work until at least MRA (57) and continue your military career, unit or IMA, at least long enough to qualify for a military retirement. As time goes on, other doors may open and you can adjust your plan. As mentioned by Nords, TSP is an outstanding benefit and contributing enough to at least get the 5% matching should be a priority. You also have the new Roth TSP option to ponder. Lastly, if you qualify for a military retirement, I believe DFAS will recoup the pretax amount of your severance pay from your military annuity (max rate of 40% of the monthly amount) once you start receiving that check. Check this link for the DFAS guidance: http://comptroller.defense.gov/fmr/07b/07b_04.pdf.
Lots of things to consider as you look at choices, but, since you currently have a GS-13 position (I assume a permanent appointment), you have a good platform from which to formulate your plan.
Yes, I have a permanent appointment (after my year probation). You are right, they will recoup my severance. I hope it is not 40% of the monthly amount (I will check out the link). Did you buy back 20.5 of your Reserve time? Thanks for the information...very helpful.
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Old 07-23-2012, 02:17 PM   #45
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I bought back 16.5 yrs of AD and 4 AF Academy yrs for Civil Service. The years also count toward your "Leave" Service Computation Date (SCD) for how much leave you earn per pay period. It maxes out at 8 hrs/pay period at the 15 yr point, so you've probably reached 8 hrs by now.

Before I forget, your Leave SCD is a reasonable guess for Retirement SCD when estimating retirement benefits, but it is not your official Retirement SCD. Your agency calculates an estimated Retirement SCD and amount when you actually apply for retirement and OPM does the final calculation...and the date and resulting annuity could be different.

The 16.5 AD yrs counted as both 16.5 "good years" and 1 point/day for my military retirement; lots of points. AF Academy yrs were not a player for military retirement. The formula to recoup SSB, and I think Severance as well, is to withhold a percentage of your retirement pay based on the ratio of your retirement points due to AD time and total points...up to a max of 40%. It used to be as high as 90% until there was a recent change in the DFAS manual.

After your probation year, your RIF position shouldn't be too vulnerable based on your status as a veteran. A short discussion with Civilian Personnel experts would let you know where you stand in relation to a RIF.
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Old 07-23-2012, 02:59 PM   #46
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I bought back 16.5 yrs of AD and 4 AF Academy yrs for Civil Service. The years also count toward your "Leave" Service Computation Date (SCD) for how much leave you earn per pay period. It maxes out at 8 hrs/pay period at the 15 yr point, so you've probably reached 8 hrs by now.

Before I forget, your Leave SCD is a reasonable guess for Retirement SCD when estimating retirement benefits, but it is not your official Retirement SCD. Your agency calculates an estimated Retirement SCD and amount when you actually apply for retirement and OPM does the final calculation...and the date and resulting annuity could be different.

The 16.5 AD yrs counted as both 16.5 "good years" and 1 point/day for my military retirement; lots of points. AF Academy yrs were not a player for military retirement. The formula to recoup SSB, and I think Severance as well, is to withhold a percentage of your retirement pay based on the ratio of your retirement points due to AD time and total points...up to a max of 40%. It used to be as high as 90% until there was a recent change in the DFAS manual.

After your probation year, your RIF position shouldn't be too vulnerable based on your status as a veteran. A short discussion with Civilian Personnel experts would let you know where you stand in relation to a RIF.
Wow, it used to be 90%! I guess I should count my blessings. I wonder what happens if I passed away before repaying everything?
Thanks again!
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Old 07-23-2012, 03:05 PM   #47
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Couldn't find out if my spouse would have to continue to repay if I die first. I submitted a question to the DFAS retirement guys, but they wouldn't answer my question unless I was in their system as a military retiree. That won't happen for me for another year plus as I'm a "gray area" retiree until reaching 60. I'll pass along any wisdom that surfaces as I continue my research.
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Old 07-23-2012, 03:26 PM   #48
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Couldn't find out if my spouse would have to continue to repay if I die first. I submitted a question to the DFAS retirement guys, but they wouldn't answer my question unless I was in their system as a military retiree. That won't happen for me for another year plus as I'm a "gray area" retiree until reaching 60. I'll pass along any wisdom that surfaces as I continue my research.
OK, thanks!
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Old 07-25-2012, 06:57 AM   #49
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When you're going through the discharge process, it'd be worth it, if you qualify, to look into a disabled veteran status. Here's a pretty thorough guide to veterans preference points. I don't know if there are different preference points ratings for different agencies, but I imagine they're similar.
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Old 07-25-2012, 09:42 PM   #50
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Just an update! I got a GS-13 job in February of this year. I am still trying to get into the Reserves. I had to do a package for a twice passed over waiver (letters of recommendation, last 5 OPRs and fitness report). I have a lot of support from the leadership there at the base (it is only 45 minutes away) to become a traditional reservist. It finally got approved at the Numbered Air Force level and now it is at Air Force Reserve Command. I am told that AFRC will normally concur with the NAF. I have been working this package since Feb, so I am glad there is finally traction! The recruiter had no idea how to go about it for the first three months. Anyway, happy that there is some progress on that front.

Any advice/information for federal retirement would be appreciated. I just got the paperwork back for buying my military time. It will cost me $24,881 to buy my 14.5 years of military time. I have to pay the deposit by 2/12/2015 before it accrues interest.

TIA
Neecy -

Thanks for your service- Sorry I am late to the party. I've just become active on the ER board in the last few months.

I'm in a similar boat as you... Federal Employee under FERS, working towards earning Reserve (Navy) retirement as well. I did a FERS buyback using Roth IRA contributions (tax- and penalty-free withdrawals).

My Notes:
1) $24k sounds a bit steep for 14 yrs. I paid just over 7k for 7 years (plus 4 as an Academy midshipman). My commissioning date was 1993.

2) It's easy to calculate whether or not the FERS buyback (vs leaving 24k in a retirement acct) makes sense. Just figure out the Future Value of $24k deposited today at an 8% return by age 60 using an HP12C calculator or the 'FV' function on excel. Then multiply that number by 4%... that's the approximate annual income you would receive as an 'annuity'. Compare that annuity to what you would get as a high-step GS-13 as your last 3 years of employment. In my case, I figured I would have to earn guaranteed 14% return in an IRA-equivalent acct to match the FERS annuity, so it was a no brainer to do the buyback.

3) Assuming the buyback makes sense, deposit your check 90 days from the deadline, just to make sure there are no admin mistakes at DFAS.

4) Keep meticulous records of your DFAS FERS buyback correspondence. Put electronic copies on a google vault and/or paper copies in a safe deposit box. Seriously.

5) There are actually 3 or 4 SCD dates, including SCD Leave, SCD Retirement, SCD RIF, SCD Civilian. In most cases they are all the same, BUT YOU NEED TO CHECK THEM in EBIS both before and after you deposit your check. Make sure you understand what each one means.

6) Even though your GS 'Lobotomy' scars are still fresh, ask around to attend a local FERS mid-career retirement planning seminar. You'll learn stuff like:

===
Retirement:
*** High-3 is the rolling average of ANY CONSECUTIVE 3-years of pay.
- Note that the High-3 'clock' may start on ANY day, it is not locked into Calendar, Fiscal, Leave, or Ratings-year.

Life Insurance:
Government actually provides you with life benefits in ADDITION to what is offered through FEGLI. They include:

- Most agencies (Navy included) pay an 'optional' $10K upon death of an employee. In addition:

(Employees w/ 18 mo. to 10 yrs of CIVILIAN (no 'buyback') service:
1. Lump sum payment of $29K, PLUS
2. Lump sum of GREATER of (a) 50% salary or (b) 50% x High-3 average.

(Employees w/ > 10 years CIVILIAN service):
1. The two-part benefit listed above, PLUS
2. 50% of what your annuity would be based on your years of service (no pre-age-62 reduction)
(ie years of service x 'Hi-3' x 50%).

TSP:
- Spouse must sign a notarized form if you choose to take your TSP in ANY form other than a survivor-annuity.

Health/FEHB:
- If you retire and fail to elect survior annuity benefit (ANY value), FEHB spousal health care coverage ceases when you die.
- 40% of persons requiring Long Term Care are UNDER the age of 65 (car/motorcycle crash primary cause). Consider LTC insurance.
- Fill out 'Advance Health Care Directive' ('pull the plug' authorization) form. Forms available for free w/ Scripps/Sharp/Kaiser etc. This stays on file w/your medical record as a legal document.

Life/Estate Planning:
- Make sure you have current Beneficiary designations (ie Spouse PRIMARY, 'All my Children' CONTINGENCY) on the following:
1. SF 3102, FERS retirement (also covers death while in-service)
2. SF 2823 - FEGLI (if participating in FEGLI).
3. TSP-3 - TSP Beneficiary designation.
4. SF 1152 - Unpaid Compensation (Lump sum Payout of Annual Leave and Unpaid Salary upon death in-service).
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Old 07-26-2012, 12:18 AM   #51
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Neecy,

What was your AFSC?

I agree with the majority that buying back your military time to apply for the Civil Service position is a good move. I found no downside for doing it many years ago. After working the numbers for several others, they also saw the the pluses and also paid back for their military time. Increasing your annual leave from 13 to 26 days per year will also be a benefit.
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Old 07-26-2012, 01:26 PM   #52
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Yes, buying back makes sense if you plan to stay around for a while. The immediate bonus is you get much more leave, bumping you from 4 hours a pay period to 6. You get 8 per pay period at 15 years.

Reserve retirement doesn't affect civil service retirement, so you can buy back your time with no worries. I am a gray area retiree and bought back my (pitiful) small amount of active duty (basic, AIT, Officer school).

Check out www.opm.gov, the FERS retirement section. There are many different retirement options, from Minimum Retirement Age, age 60 with 30 years, etc.

Note that you can pay back your time with installments via payroll deduction. That may be a good option at least until you get your 1 year probation period done.
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Old 07-26-2012, 05:55 PM   #53
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Originally Posted by ejw93 View Post
Neecy -

Thanks for your service- Sorry I am late to the party. I've just become active on the ER board in the last few months.

I'm in a similar boat as you... Federal Employee under FERS, working towards earning Reserve (Navy) retirement as well. I did a FERS buyback using Roth IRA contributions (tax- and penalty-free withdrawals).

My Notes:
1) $24k sounds a bit steep for 14 yrs. I paid just over 7k for 7 years (plus 4 as an Academy midshipman). My commissioning date was 1993.

2) It's easy to calculate whether or not the FERS buyback (vs leaving 24k in a retirement acct) makes sense. Just figure out the Future Value of $24k deposited today at an 8% return by age 60 using an HP12C calculator or the 'FV' function on excel. Then multiply that number by 4%... that's the approximate annual income you would receive as an 'annuity'. Compare that annuity to what you would get as a high-step GS-13 as your last 3 years of employment. In my case, I figured I would have to earn guaranteed 14% return in an IRA-equivalent acct to match the FERS annuity, so it was a no brainer to do the buyback.

3) Assuming the buyback makes sense, deposit your check 90 days from the deadline, just to make sure there are no admin mistakes at DFAS.

4) Keep meticulous records of your DFAS FERS buyback correspondence. Put electronic copies on a google vault and/or paper copies in a safe deposit box. Seriously.

5) There are actually 3 or 4 SCD dates, including SCD Leave, SCD Retirement, SCD RIF, SCD Civilian. In most cases they are all the same, BUT YOU NEED TO CHECK THEM in EBIS both before and after you deposit your check. Make sure you understand what each one means.

6) Even though your GS 'Lobotomy' scars are still fresh, ask around to attend a local FERS mid-career retirement planning seminar. You'll learn stuff like:

===
Retirement:
*** High-3 is the rolling average of ANY CONSECUTIVE 3-years of pay.
- Note that the High-3 'clock' may start on ANY day, it is not locked into Calendar, Fiscal, Leave, or Ratings-year.

Life Insurance:
Government actually provides you with life benefits in ADDITION to what is offered through FEGLI. They include:

- Most agencies (Navy included) pay an 'optional' $10K upon death of an employee. In addition:

(Employees w/ 18 mo. to 10 yrs of CIVILIAN (no 'buyback') service:
1. Lump sum payment of $29K, PLUS
2. Lump sum of GREATER of (a) 50% salary or (b) 50% x High-3 average.

(Employees w/ > 10 years CIVILIAN service):
1. The two-part benefit listed above, PLUS
2. 50% of what your annuity would be based on your years of service (no pre-age-62 reduction)
(ie years of service x 'Hi-3' x 50%).

TSP:
- Spouse must sign a notarized form if you choose to take your TSP in ANY form other than a survivor-annuity.

Health/FEHB:
- If you retire and fail to elect survior annuity benefit (ANY value), FEHB spousal health care coverage ceases when you die.
- 40% of persons requiring Long Term Care are UNDER the age of 65 (car/motorcycle crash primary cause). Consider LTC insurance.
- Fill out 'Advance Health Care Directive' ('pull the plug' authorization) form. Forms available for free w/ Scripps/Sharp/Kaiser etc. This stays on file w/your medical record as a legal document.

Life/Estate Planning:
- Make sure you have current Beneficiary designations (ie Spouse PRIMARY, 'All my Children' CONTINGENCY) on the following:
1. SF 3102, FERS retirement (also covers death while in-service)
2. SF 2823 - FEGLI (if participating in FEGLI).
3. TSP-3 - TSP Beneficiary designation.
4. SF 1152 - Unpaid Compensation (Lump sum Payout of Annual Leave and Unpaid Salary upon death in-service).
Great advice! I am getting a free safety deposit box from Chase's military program. Now I know what to put in there. BTW, I am loving the 8 hours leave per pay period.
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Old 07-26-2012, 06:00 PM   #54
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Neecy,

What was your AFSC?

I agree with the majority that buying back your military time to apply for the Civil Service position is a good move. I found no downside for doing it many years ago. After working the numbers for several others, they also saw the the pluses and also paid back for their military time. Increasing your annual leave from 13 to 26 days per year will also be a benefit.
I prefer not to state my AFSC.

Agree, can't really see a downside. Thanks for your comments!
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Old 07-26-2012, 06:06 PM   #55
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Originally Posted by Bimmerbill View Post
Yes, buying back makes sense if you plan to stay around for a while. The immediate bonus is you get much more leave, bumping you from 4 hours a pay period to 6. You get 8 per pay period at 15 years.

Reserve retirement doesn't affect civil service retirement, so you can buy back your time with no worries. I am a gray area retiree and bought back my (pitiful) small amount of active duty (basic, AIT, Officer school).

Check out www.opm.gov, the FERS retirement section. There are many different retirement options, from Minimum Retirement Age, age 60 with 30 years, etc.

Note that you can pay back your time with installments via payroll deduction. That may be a good option at least until you get your 1 year probation period done.
Thought about doing the payroll reduction, but I already deduct $1200 out for the TSP. I will just have to be discipline enough to save it up. Thanks!
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Old 07-30-2012, 12:47 AM   #56
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I'm learning a lot here, and I'm taking notes. Thanks.

Neecy, I thought your AFSC was "overstaffed", and it's probably one of the military's fastest-growing communities for the next few years. The process you went through was surely no fun, but you've landed on your feet and you beat the crowd that will also surely be following soon.
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Old 07-31-2012, 07:19 AM   #57
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I'm learning a lot here, and I'm taking notes. Thanks.

Neecy, I thought your AFSC was "overstaffed", and it's probably one of the military's fastest-growing communities for the next few years. The process you went through was surely no fun, but you've landed on your feet and you beat the crowd that will also surely be following soon.
Yes, my career was "overstaffed," but can easily translate into a civilian job. This year, the AF eliminated 23 instead 147 passed over majors. It seems like they learned from last year. I think about 10 folks from my group are suing the AF because we were given no notice. Sure it was always a possibility to be kicked out, but the AF has not exercised that option in 20 years.

Yes, at first it was a major blow that lingered for about 3 months. The uncertainty lasted about another 3 months. I loved getting paid during terminal leave until it ended in November. I then regretted not staying one more month, but since it was no notice, I had a European vacation planned. With that said, my new job is certainly not as stressful and it is awesome being able to leverage my military time. I was 6.5 years from retirement, so hopefully I will be able to finish in the Reserves.

Thanks for your comments and the book!
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Old 07-31-2012, 09:32 AM   #58
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Glad things are working out for you. Navy hasn't been quite as brutal on it's passed over O-4's, but I am now on OPNAV staff at the Pentagon, and have heard the manpower discussions include this topic a couple of times. Kind of scary. I'd much rather see TERA offered up.

Nords, I'm surrounded by retired submariners here!
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Old 08-01-2012, 01:49 PM   #59
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Glad things are working out for you. Navy hasn't been quite as brutal on it's passed over O-4's, but I am now on OPNAV staff at the Pentagon, and have heard the manpower discussions include this topic a couple of times. Kind of scary. I'd much rather see TERA offered up.

Nords, I'm surrounded by retired submariners here!
Thanks! It is nice to have been able to regain control of my career. A 15-year retirement would have been cool as well.
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Old 08-04-2012, 04:49 PM   #60
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I think about 10 folks from my group are suing the AF because we were given no notice. Sure it was always a possibility to be kicked out, but the AF has not exercised that option in 20 years.
I bet those lawsuits are just as successful today as they were in 1993. Don't get sucked into that time-wasting drama...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Neecy View Post
Thanks for your comments and the book!
You're welcome! Nice to see the good guys start winning again.

Quote:
Originally Posted by HawkeyeNFO View Post
Glad things are working out for you. Navy hasn't been quite as brutal on it's passed over O-4's, but I am now on OPNAV staff at the Pentagon, and have heard the manpower discussions include this topic a couple of times. Kind of scary. I'd much rather see TERA offered up.
Nords, I'm surrounded by retired submariners here!
First off, let me offer you my sympathies & condolences at ending up on OPNAV staff. Considering your last billet, I'm still trying to decide whether you moved up, down, or laterally. Hard to judge by assessing either the friendly forces or the foes! The difference between your last job and this one was that at the last job you could get shot in the face, while in this one you can get shot in the back-- or in the assets.

Having said that, I hope you give those submariners a wide berth. They're already grouchy enough when removed from their natural environment-- and that's before they realize they've been tricked into working so that they don't have to worry about what they'll do all day.

I may know some of those guys, and they may even know me. Here's a poster you can display on your cubicle wall. Tell them it was my idea:
Attached Images
File Type: jpg Submarines sneaky bastards.jpg (29.4 KB, 9 views)
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