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Old 09-12-2009, 02:39 PM   #101
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Originally Posted by Texas Proud View Post
First, even in your post you said that at one time instead of paying for recruits they decided to raise the pay and people stayed... well, that is what I am saying... raise the pay for people you need... lower it (or keep it the same) for skills you do not need....
Some of that's happening already. The military has whole-heartedly jumped aboard the "special pay" and bonus bandwagon because they're one-time costs. The result is that "retiring on half pay" is more like 25%-30% when bonuses, special pays, tax-free allowances, and other benefits are included.

For example a young (28-32 years old) nuclear-trained submarine lieutenant, staying on past his initial service obligation, goes to sea as a department head (navigator or weapons officer). He's in charge of an officer or two, several chief petty officers, and maybe 20 junior enlisted sailors. At sea he's standing six hours of watch a day (with an occasional day off for special supervisory duty, running drills, or inspection preps) and inport he's standing 24-hour duty every 4-5 days. If he does a good job for the next 24-30 months (and manages to finish qualifying for command) then he can look forward to a couple years of shore duty, later promotion to O-4, and perhaps (~70%) selection for an XO sea tour. And he's not even halfway to retirement eligibility.

Military Pay Tables

He gets base pay (which is part of his retirement calculation) of $4948.80/month.

But he's also getting a couple of tax-free allowances: Basic Allowance for Subsistence ($223.04) and Basic Allowance for Housing ($1074). These aren't part of retirement.

He's eligible for $595/month submarine pay.

Since recent data indicates that he's over 80% likely to leave the service after this tour (in some year groups it's over 90%) the Navy offers him a $25K/year bonus for agreeing to stay between 3-5 years. This is considered pay (taxable) but not part of his base pay, so it doesn't count for retirement. But, hey, nukes can calculate the present value of a future cash stream-- and an extra $2083.33/month has a noticeable effect on retention.

[I haven't counted sea pay (another ~$300/month), hazardous duty pay, combat pay, tax-free benefits in a combat zone, special pay for submarine divers, family separation allowance, and other less-frequent pays.]

So “actual” income has risen over two-thirds from the base $4948.80/month to $8329.17/month. This doesn't include the boost of the untaxed allowances or other military benefits to “total compensation”. But if he retired at this paygrade (for 50 years!) he'd only be receiving $2474/month-- 29% of actual income and an even smaller percentage of total compensation. Admittedly with a CPI COLA and cheap healthcare, but nowhere near the impression received upon hearing “50% of base pay”.

BTW I knew a number of 1990s submarine lieutenants who were making less than their spouses-- talk about a retention challenge. A military pension goes a long way toward making up for the lower career total pay.

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Originally Posted by Texas Proud View Post
This might not be true at all..... but why would a cook or a supply clerk get the same pay as someone on sonar or some other 'skill'... (I am being careful here as I am not sure what skills are in demand... I knew someone who worked on a sub who had skills which he took to the private sector... in electrical generation... so I will leave this very general...)...
But what I am trying to say is that not all jobs should be paid the same... because some skills are harder to find than others... but the military seems to say they are all the same (except from what I remember when it is time to get out and they need you and bribe you with a retention bonus)... So, pay the rate you need to keep the people in place... this might mean raising their pay by 100%.... but if that is what it takes.. pay it.... don't back end the whole thing with a pension that we do not put any money aside... where we do not know the total cost... where we can decide if we want that insurance or not (of having a strong or weak military).. because we know the true costs...
The “in demand” enlisted skills of nuclear training and electronics are generally rewarded with other types of pay not shown in the pay tables. It's a few hundred dollars a month, perhaps more for a senior enlisted supervisor's position. In most cases they're required to enlist for six years, not four.

I may be a few years out of date on this, but re-enlistment bonuses are handed out with multiples from 0 to 6. A nuclear electronics technician can pull down over $40K for a six-year bonus. “Conventional” electronics techs (like sonar, fire control, and communications) aren't far behind.

Extra pay can follow ashore. Instructors teaching nuclear topics at training commands receive special-duty pay of a few hundred more per month.

Promotions are faster for technical ratings. Nukes and some non-nuclear technical fields allow promotions right out of basic skills training, or automatic (“no compete”) promotions for extending an enlistment by two years. In general, skill ratings with more sea duty promote faster than rates with less sea duty.

Submarine sailors are volunteers who also get sub pay. As part of that “good deal” they're expected to stand on station to fight fires, control flooding, handle basic weapons casualties, and deal with radioactive contamination. They're also trained in security duty, weapons use, and administering deadly force. Admittedly their skill level is several orders of magnitude below what Marines do every day, but there's no extra pay for those skills.

None of these pays (except for promotions) count toward retirement.

BTW that “just” a submarine cook or supply clerk is cross-trained. If they want to promote faster then they'll qualify at watchstations and supervisory duty, maybe even a college degree (on their “spare” time and the Navy's money). If a bunch of other (higher-paid) submariners are injured then they're not all treated by the sub's only corpsman. It's just as likely that triage, stopping bleeding, starting IVs, delivering injections, administering CPR, and even stitching wounds could be handled by cooks & clerks. On shore duty I had a number of sailors with so much first-aid training that they decided to get full credit for it by completing the military's EMT school and civilian EMT certification. It was considered easier than shipboard training.

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Originally Posted by Texas Proud View Post
As you might be able to tell, I was a cost accountant... and the pension number is something that is hard to quantify.... if you tell me how many people are needed to be on a sub... how long they are out... how often it gets retrofitted... etc... you can say it cost X for 30 years... but the harder number is the pensions for all those guys... even with knowing the current life expectancies..... because medicine has a way of keeping people alive longer... what if they discovered a drug tomorrow that would keep most people alive and in good health until 115... kind of makes the cost of pensions a big number does it not
Best I can say here is that personnel make up the majority of the military's costs today. Not weapons system development or ship overhauls or fuel or even combat operations-- but personnel. So there's a lot of attention, and now a lot of useful computer power, being directed at analyzing and reducing those costs. Automation is finally deemed reliable enough (which might actually be true) to reduce manpower (which retention was doing anyway). Contractor outsourcing is running amok, with even some deployed carriers having civilian cooks and maintenance techs. The Navy puts extensive analysis into figuring out what skills are overmanned or undermanned, and at the end of their contracts some sailors may be denied re-enlistment or forced to move to a different rating.

The Navy is even considering an eBay-style bidding system for orders to duty stations. Want to homestead in Norfolk? No extra pays for you, unless you're willing to do shifts at the nuclear repair shop! Willing to try a few years in Adak or Chinhae? Well, BUPERS may pay you a bonus but only after they determine how many other sailors are willing to volunteer for those billets.

Screw the life-extension drugs. I want the drugs that immunize me against asbestos exposure, ionizing radiation, hazardous atmospheric contaminants (like elevated CO2, CO, fluorine, refrigerants, and other volatile organics), second-hand smoke inhalation (when smoking on submarines was still authorized), aerosol hydraulic oil, volcanic ash, stress, lack of sleep, and PTSD. While medical science is working on that, I also want to repair the damage caused by the pneumonia, bronchitis, and chronic respiratory infections that I've had. And might as well give me booster shots for the exposures to hepatitis (A, B, and C), typhoid, tetanus, and tuberculosis. In exchange I'll stop worrying about the scars from steam burns, fires, high-pressure air leaks, scalding liquids, various metal protrusions, slips, falls, and other accidents. And I'm not even considered “disabled”!

I suspect that overall manpower numbers (and pension numbers) are dropping far faster than pension longevity is rising.

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Originally Posted by Texas Proud View Post
You mention the ability of being called back to service... this is a strong reason I can see for the pension... but are you not in the reserves at this time? Are you not paid to be in the reserves? I really don't know... so I am asking... BTW, I am not a fan of all the recalls on the reserves for this war... I am sorry, but if we can not pay for a standing army that is able to do what I consider to be two minor wars, what would happen if there was a big one? And I am not a fan of sending out the army for as often and as long as they have.... but this is another subject, so I will let it go...
I retired from active duty in 2002 and so I'm only subject to a WWIII-scenario involuntary recall. (However a few dozen retired shipmates voluntarily leaped back into uniform after 9/11.) I'm getting a pension now. Spouse left active duty in 2001 for the Reserves, drilled for her obligation and a bit longer, and then retired at the end of 2008 in “retired awaiting pay” status. So she's still four steps away from involuntary mobilization... and she'll get the call before I do. She'll get her Reserve pension at age 60 in 2022.

Our pensions are considered adequate compensation for the “risk” (admittedly small) of recall.

You're right, a traditional standing army is no longer affordable. These may be considered “minor” wars in terms of publicity, duration, and territory-- but they're a much larger percentage of the personnel in the post-Vietnam military. The military is already as big as the taxpayers are willing to support. The Navy actually had over 600 ships in the late 1980s, at the peak of the Cold War, and today it's a number around 315. Personnel numbers have dropped even faster as crew sizes have shrunk and shore functions have been outsourced or decommissioned.

If WWII started up again then the entire Reserves would be mobilized (not the minor recall that we've had) and left on active duty for years, not months. States would lose their National & Air Guards, too. Then DoD would hunt down all us retired guys to run the training commands and administrative staffs. Finally, as a last desperate act, there'd be a request to reactivate the draft. But I suspect that neither Congress nor the White House would have the civilian support for such a drastic step.

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Originally Posted by Texas Proud View Post
BTW, I knew a lot of people who went into the military from HS... I was in NJROTC... not a lot were at the top of the class... they learned a skill and were paid better than other jobs they could get.... but most of them were either druggies or became druggies when they were in... I stopped talking to all except one... but I stopped talking to him for a few years even after he got out until he cleaned up... he told me about how the various people got high on the sub... and he did also... but also said that if they got caught they were booted out... (OH, BTW, he said their cook was gay, but nobody cared because he was a good cook.... this before don't ask, don't tell)....
I think the military offers a lot of adventure, excitement, and opportunity to someone who (for whatever reason) is not quite ready for college or the civilian workforce. But after a few years of sea duty, when those guys get ashore they're champin' at the bit to get a college degree. Some of them are even desperate enough to become officers.

I don't miss the good ol' days at all.

The submarine force was once addressed by a SECNAV who pointed out that, for whatever reason, we were the military's last bastion of WASP males. He rightfully called us dinosaurs on the path to extinction. Even today the submarine force won't admit women for reasons that are inconsistent or just plain invalid, so they're locking themselves out of over half of their recruiting demographics. The submarine force needs every gender, racial minority, religious creed, and sexual preference that they can bribe on board. They're even desperate enough to start taking Democrats...
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Old 09-12-2009, 03:17 PM   #102
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Interesting to hear about the bonus money payed now. When I was getting out of the Air Force in 1979 they offered me $1600 to re enlist. I was an electronics technician working on SR-71 and U2 aircraft. Also I was told by the retention NCO that I had no chance outside! I said sure, everyone not in the military is unemployed I guess.

In any case I did not take them up on their kind offer. I have not been unemployed ever since I got out.

I would have to say that the early pension that the military has would have been the only thing that gave me pause about getting out. I could have collected at age 37! Only enlisted pay though but but with cost of living increases and getting it so young not so bad a deal.

Oh, the other thing that made the military unpleasant was the enlisted barracks. Not much fun living there. Couldn't see doing that for 20 years with a roommate.

But I am glad that I served a term. No regrets about that.
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Old 09-12-2009, 04:12 PM   #103
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Those numbers that Nords listed are for an O-4. In the Army that would be a Major (not sure about the other branches). The pay for enlisted men is considerably less. A career enlisted man might retire as an E-7 which has a base pay somewhere near 33% less than an O-4. In similar circumstances, his pension would be around $1600-$1700 per month.

The point is that military retirees arent getting rich.
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Old 09-12-2009, 07:35 PM   #104
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Originally Posted by lets-retire View Post
Nords--Good post. I jumped ship after 10 years of service. There were three basic reasons. The quality of recruits was horrible. I would talk with the old man, who served 24 years then retired. Many of the complaints I had were the same he had when he was in. That told me things weren't going to get any better. And finally the last straw was talking with the old man about retirement. What he had been promised and what he actually received were different enough to confirm my suspicions that once retired I would be going back to work doing something so I could survive.

Texas Proud--They do pay some specialties more than others through retention bonuses. The retention bonuses allow for targeting pay to a time when there is a great need for the specialty. It seems for the most part needs go in cycles. The biggest difficulty I can see with the comparison between the military and civilian sectors is that the military has a contract, whereas the civilian sector normally doesn't. If an x-ray tech in the civilian sector believes they aren't being paid enough, they can try to find a different employer paying much more. The military doesn't allow for that mobility. Not to mention the government is not set up for efficient reaction to market conditions. By adjusting pay rather than offering bonuses a military member wouldn't know what their pay was going to be from year to year. In the civilian sector if you take a pay cut and feel you are not being paid enough or can't live on the pay you are free to find another job paying more, this isn't the case with a military member. They are stuck for the duration of their contract. There are already enough issues with the military pay section. Making military pay any more complicated would not be a good idea.

An interesting angle I had forgotten about.... that you sign up for another tour.... but isn't it kind of disingenuous (sp?) to bribe someone to stay on because you need their skill.... and then pay them less than market rate for their service

And I do not know... does the bonus count toward their salary on retirement? Again, I am not a big proponent for the current retirement system, but would think that if my skill was worth paying more for, then at least my retirement would indicate this higher worth... Edit... Opps... answered in next post by Nords....

Also, read my post about the difference in military and civilian jobs such as police and fire... this is what I was saying...
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Old 09-12-2009, 09:50 PM   #105
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Clarification?

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Originally Posted by Texas Proud View Post

Most people who go into policing or firefighting are making a decision that this IS their career... they are not going in to learn a skill which they will take somewhere else... they have looked at the career path and have decided that is the direction they want to take... maybe they will make it up the food chain to the top... or somewhere in the middle, but they chose to be in policing or firefighting and not another career... so the decision making is made up front... not after a 4, 7 or 10 year tour...
Texas Proud-

Not sure I follow. I wouldn't compare military to police and fire
either, but many people DO go into police and firefighting
and EMS to learn a skill to take somewhere else.

Or is that what you're saying?

-LB
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Old 09-12-2009, 11:53 PM   #106
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Those numbers that Nords listed are for an O-4. In the Army that would be a Major (not sure about the other branches). The pay for enlisted men is considerably less. A career enlisted man might retire as an E-7 which has a base pay somewhere near 33% less than an O-4. In similar circumstances, his pension would be around $1600-$1700 per month.
The point is that military retirees arent getting rich.
Made me look. Thought I'd transposed a couple rows on those eyecharts.

The numbers are actually for an O-3 with more than six years of service-- a critical retention point where many submariners have chosen to get out of the service rather than do a department head tour.

The confusion may be that I retired as an O-4. But I was using the O-3 as an example of how a 20-something can earn six figures and still leave the service.

Your points are well made that neither O-4 nor E-7 retirement money will make you rich. But that depends on lifestyle and living expenses, right Boxkicker?
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Old 09-13-2009, 12:01 AM   #107
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Nords...

Again... another great post from some who have lived it....

And maybe I was being to specific when I was talking subs since I knew you were there and one of my friends was there... and I had a BIL on a aircraft carrier...

So I will be more general... there are a lot of jobs that can be done by civilians that do not entail leaning how to shoot... and from what you are saying, the military seems to be going in that direction... as an example... being a mechanic on cars and trucks (when you are not in the zone) is the same as the guy who is working down the street on my cars... someone who does shipping is doing the same work as the guy at my megacorp who did shipping.. and on and on... these are skills that a lot of people have... they are low to mid pay jobs.. and the military should be paying that pay... but not that pay and a pension at 38.... for a pilot, or a captain of a ship (or boat, IIRC for a sub)... or some other higher skilled job (and I would put most of the nuke jobs there)... they should be paid higher... and from what I hear... they are... but not as 'base salary' that would go into a pension....

SOOO, let's change it up... pay them their real wage, make the pension be one at 55 or 60... (or a combo of age and years of service that some places have)... and include these wages in their pension.... OR, make it a cash balance account... you accrue a certain amount of money for each year you are in... and it grows... you can decide when you retire and they will buy a pension for you on whatever money you have... but from only that money.... we now know the cost to the government of your service right now... no worry about how long you live... no worry about inflation etc... and you have control of how much pension you want to receive... because if you want it early, then you get less per month... if you 'wait', then you get a larger per month payout...
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Old 09-13-2009, 12:07 AM   #108
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Texas Proud-

Not sure I follow. I wouldn't compare military to police and fire
either, but many people DO go into police and firefighting
and EMS to learn a skill to take somewhere else.

Or is that what you're saying?

-LB

No... I am saying that people go into the military to learn one of the many skills they have there... KNOWING they will not be a life time military person.. IOW, they are not going in to be 'military'....

Someone who goes into policing or firefighting (or EMS), has chosen that career... sure, they can move around and have different employers... but their 'skill' is policing or firefighting... they have chosen a path that is now a lot narrower in the future...

Now, yes, I know that once you pick a skill in the military, you have narrowed your choices... but you still have a lot of choices... OK, how about this.... the military is 'your' college time... you are in there to learn and get out... you do not go to the police academy to learn and 'get out' of policing.....

I am sure I am not making myself clear here either... but hopefully not as murky as before...
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Old 09-13-2009, 06:40 AM   #109
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An interesting angle I had forgotten about.... that you sign up for another tour.... but isn't it kind of disingenuous (sp?) to bribe someone to stay on because you need their skill.... and then pay them less than market rate for their service
I don't think it disingenuous. The person signing the line agrees to the pay and is willing to do the job for the pay. It also allows for flexibility in retention and hiring. I always thought the retention bonuses should be included in retirement, though. By offering a bonus, people who are recruited or retained are the only people receiving the pay. If a person goes into the job with the knowledge that they will be paid $1000 dollar per month, they can't complain about the pay. Why pay them more? Conversely if a person goes into a job paying $2000 per month but a year later everyone wants the job, the person will have to take a pay cut. What if the new pay is below what the person is willing to accept? They can't get out of the contract. By targeting the pay to only those who it effects (recruited or retained people) it directly targets those most at risk of leaving. I was in a career filed that often paid retention bonuses and supervised people who were making more than me because of their bonuses. The reality of the situation was it didn't matter. The rank has it's privileges theory comes into play. I understand what you are saying about paying the skill what it is worth. We used to have discussions that the Airmen in the chow hall or in transportation were making a killing while those in IT (at the time) were getting screwed.

You bring up officers a lot. Most officers are not going to retire at 38 years old. They still have to serve 20 years to be eligible for retirement and most officers go to college before entering the military. So most aren't eligible for retirement until they are 42. They most likely aren't going to retire at a pay grade that will afford them a good standard of living so they would have to go out and get another job. In my opinion it really isn't retirement if you still have to work.

Expanding retirement pay or or base pay is a good idea, although having the career field as the determining factor would make the pay system very complex. When I got out they still had issues paying people what they were supposed to be getting paid. Making the system any more complex would not be a good idea. Many of the people doing pay were not experienced people, some didn't want to be there at all. The military has to follow the KISS principle to the letter otherwise things get screwed up.

I jumped ship after 10 years. If they had a retirement system like you detail I would be entitled to some pay, as it is all I receive a a VA disability. I am alright with this arrangement because a lot of people go into the military who do not retire, having them entitled to any type of retirement benefit would dramatically increase the cost of the military. If they're vested to they get to receive any other military retirement benefits, like access to the base exchange, commissary, medical.

I've known more than a few police officers who became officers only to receive training in certain skills. They quit and get paid very good money by private industry.
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Old 09-13-2009, 09:59 AM   #110
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True on your post... there is a reason for the bonus if you sign up again... you can control how many people you have better.... because you can offer the bonus to only the ones you want to keep.... if you pay a real salary, then others might stay on even if you do not need them...

I did not think I talked about mostly officers... I talk about lower skill jobs a lot because this is where I think 20 and out is not worth it...

Are you sure college does not count toward your time? I ask that because when I was getting out of high school... I was being recruited big time as I had the highest score on the ASVAB test that year (Houston)... or at least that is what I was told by the Navy and Marine recruiter... I wanted to go to college... do nuclear... get an engineering degree.. etc... they said I could join up... do two years training in the Navy... go to college for 4 years with full salary... then work 4 years in the Navy.... I asked why they would not put down that I would be able to go to college on my forms... 'can't do it'... and other BS... so they were telling me that IF I got approved, I would have been in the Navy for 10 years with full salary even with going to college... (btw, because they would not say for sure I could go to college and even if I did it was a 10 year commitment... I passed)... funny thing is... IF I had done it... and gone to college.. I might be one of the retired military right now!!!


Reading more of you post... so.. what you are saying about paying people... we are paying people who can not figure out how to pay... but giving them a good pension to do it? (just having fun here...)... Yes... I can see how this can be a benefit... if you are X... you pay is X... but looking at the chart Nords sent was making my head spin... you get more if you are on ship (or not).. in a combat zone... this or that, mix or match... some taxable, some not... this does not seem to be KISS....


As for you having some money in a retirement system I propose... YES... you would...

I am proposing something like... if you sign up for a 2 year tour (or maybe 4)... we put money aside for college etc... like we currently do... after your first tour... if you sign up again... we start putting money aside for you for a retirement.... say 4 or 5% for you second tour... 6 or 7 for your third... 8 or 9 for your 4th.... maybe max out at 15%... so when you are in your last years... there is a good amount of money being put aside for you.. a good incentive...

BUT, it takes away some of the tricks that occur... (this might not apply to the military.... but I have heard it happen in the police and fire).... you have worked many years... and you did not move up much... but now you see retirement coming.... so you start to work every job that is available... because OT counts... and you get a promotion just before you retire... so you 'final pay' goes up (again, the Houston police chief got this with a few days of higher salary)... this costs money for the rest of the person's life... if you have put aside a percent of their salary... then they have an incentive to move up sooner... to get that better salary for one... plus to put more aside.... and I could care less about where your final pay etc. is... because we only put aside the percent we are required... you now have a pool of money that will be yours to buy an annuity (or if you wish, to roll over into an IRA).... simple and clean.... no tricks...
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Old 09-13-2009, 10:43 AM   #111
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Yes there are little 'tricks' in the military. I was making right at $68,000 a year when I retired. My 50% base pay turned out to be a little over $21,500. You see when the military got a pay raise, a certain percent of it was in housing allowance, subsistence and sometimes base pay. You see they have figured out that you retire at a percentage of base pay not the extras. So in my case my flight pay, which made up a large portion of my total pay, did not count. So yes there are little tricks, they just don't work in the service members favor.
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Old 09-13-2009, 10:44 AM   #112
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The loophole you mention about collecting as much OT as you can just before you retire has been closed. Most police depts no longer include OT in their pension calculations.

In fact some depts, including mine, have started doing things more like the military. The last time we got a raise, it wasnt really a raise. Any officer who was a "Master Peace Officer" got an extra $500 per month. To be a Master Peace Officer you have to have a certain amount of years on the dept, have taken certain classes and training and then you are certified as a Master Peace Officer. Thats great...except since it wasnt a raise. It was considered "certificate pay", it doesnt count in pension calculations.

So although the City has to pay us an extra $500 per month (or at least to some of us), they save money on pension contributions and our future pension amount hasnt been increased. Pension calculations only include base pay. No overtime, no language pay, no shift pay or any of these other special pay situations, so the City has started including a higher and higher percentage of our pay as these "extras" and not in our base pay.
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Old 09-13-2009, 12:52 PM   #113
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Originally Posted by Texas Proud View Post
So I will be more general... there are a lot of jobs that can be done by civilians that do not entail leaning how to shoot... and from what you are saying, the military seems to be going in that direction... as an example... being a mechanic on cars and trucks (when you are not in the zone) is the same as the guy who is working down the street on my cars... someone who does shipping is doing the same work as the guy at my megacorp who did shipping.. and on and on... these are skills that a lot of people have... they are low to mid pay jobs.. and the military should be paying that pay... but not that pay and a pension at 38....
Interesting point, but let's paint the rest of the picture.

Let's take the guy that works on your cars and compare him to a Marine with MOS 3521 (Automotive Organizational Mechanic). If you compare the tasks that a good auto mechanic should be able to complete, and the specific occupational standards for a 3521, you see little difference (they can be found in MCO (Marine Corps Order 1510.68). Although they may be expressed in that particular form of bureucratese peculiar to the military:
Quote:
TASK: 3521.05.18 (CORE) PERFORM SCHEDULED PREVENTIVE MAINTENANCE ON THE HMMWV SERIES VEHICLE
CONDITION(S): Given a HMMWV series vehicle, references and tools.
STANDARD(S): Scheduled preventive maintenance will be performed so that the vehicle will be fully operational per the references.
PERFORMANCE STEPS:
1. Perform Scheduled Preventive Maintenance Checks and Services.
2. Review all WSEM’s, SI’s, TI’s, MI’s.
INITIAL TRAINING SETTING: FLC Sustainment: 3 Req By: Pvt
There are, however, some additional core job skills that seem to indicate that there is a lot more to this job. How many mechanics down at Smith Toyota have something like this among their required skillsets?
Quote:
TASK: 3521.10.10 (CORE) PERFORM BATTLE DAMAGE RECOVERY OF EQUIPMENT CONTAMINATED WITH
DEPLETED URANIUM
CONDITION(S): Given a tactical scenario, in any combat environment, and a contaminated vehicle.
STANDARD(S): In accordance with the references, safely perform vehicle recovery.
Or this one?
Quote:
TASK: 3521.10.07 (CORE PLUS) SUPERVISE ESTABLISHMENT OF A MAINTENANCE FACILITY WITHIN A
TACTICAL MOTOR POOL
CONDITION(S): Given a requirement to establish a maintenance facility and references.
STANDARD(S): Maintenance facility will be established per the references.
PERFORMANCE STEPS:
1. Select defensive positions.
2. Direct camouflaging of maintenance facility.
But there is more that is not found in the 3521 section of the MCO, but in the areas that delineate the duties and tasks of the people who are in charge of the organization and facility - 3539 (Motor Transport Maintenance Chief) and 3510 (Motor Transport Maintenance Officer), or, as they would be known to your mechanic, Shop Supervisor and Service Manager.

How many shop supervisors down at Johnson Ford's repair shop are going to have to demonstrate these performance standards:
Quote:
TASK: 3529.01.13 (CORE PLUS) DIRECT THE FIRING OF CREW SERVE WEAPONS
CONDITION(S): Given a crew serve weapon, ring mount, a tactical vehicle, and personnel
to mount and fire the machine gun.
STANDARD(S): The mounting and firing of the crew serve weapon will be directed per the references.
PERFORMANCE STEPS:
1. Inspect the crew serve weapons.
2. Direct the adjustment of the firing mechanism.
3. Direct the mounting of the crew serve weapon on the mount.
4. Direct the firing of the crew serve weapon.
5. Direct the cleaning of the crew serve weapon.
And how many service managers down at your local Saturn dealer have this in their minimum job requirements?
Quote:
TASK: 3510.01.24 (CORE) CONDUCT A TACTICAL CONVOY
CONDITION(S): Provided with applicable reference materials and a requirement to direct the movement of a tactical convoy.
STANDARD(S): The convoy will be conducted per the references.
PERFORMANCE STEPS:
1. Analyze the operation order.
2. Draft a movement order.
3. Employ communication assets.
4. Employ crew serve weapons, as required.
5. Employ land navigation systems.
6. Conduct a convoy commander’s brief.
7. Direct a movement of a convoy.
Can the service manager at Williams Mazda demonstrate this proficiency?
Quote:
TASK: 3510.01.23 (CORE PLUS) CONDUCT THE CALL FOR SUPPORTING ARMS FIRE
CONDITION(S): Given applicable reference materials and a requirement to call for supporting arms fire.
STANDARD(S): The call for supporting arms fire will be conducted per the references.
PERFORMANCE STEPS:
1. Identify the capabilities and limitations of artillery fire support.
2. Identify the capabilities and limitations of naval gun fire support.
3. Identify the capabilities and limitations of air support.
4. Identify the correct procedures in the call for fire.
5. Identify the correct procedures for adjusting fire.
6. Call for supporting arms fire.
INITIAL TRAINING SETTING: MOJT Sustainment: 12 Req By: CWO3
REFERENCE(S):
1. FM 6-20, Fire Support in Airland Battle
2. TM 11240-14/2, Logistics Considerations for MT Convoy Ops in Guerrilla Environment
Does the local mechanic run 5 miles with the other mechanics three-four times each week? I bet they don't get their body fat measured regularly or lose their job or not get a raise if they're can't pass the physical fitness test each year. How often do the fellas down at the garage take the Combat Fitness Test?

If guy bending wrenches on your car wants to get a raise does he have to get promoted to Mechanic II? If he does, Are the standards how well he fixes cars, or does the dealership make him attend "The Mechanics II Course" which includes instruction on martial arts, counseling employees, maintaining unit discipline, sword manual, squad attacks, defensive operations, land navigation, etc?

How often are you greeted by a service writer at your local Buick dealership whose wearing a gas mask and MOPP suit because today they're practicing "Tactical Garage Operations in an NBC environment?"

How often do all the boys at the Nissan place load up all their tools and go to the dessert to work on cars just in case they ever have to work on cars in the dessert?

Has the service manager ever called your boss to have you disciplined because you brought your Camry in a few hundred miles past the oil service limit and it was therefore "not in serviceable condition"? Or because you modified something on the vehicle that was not in accordance with OEM specifications?

Does the head of quality control from Ford come to town every couple of years and make sure that your mechanic has all of his tools, has kept up with new service bulletins, trained on new systems; and, then go to his house and make sure it is neat and clean and that his camping and hunting gear are in a proper state of readiness?

The answer to all of those questions is no, never, or WTF.

Yes, when Bob the Marine or Bob your mechanic are working on cars, with the exception of the preponderance of green everywhere in one place, the jobs are the same. But, the difference is that Bob the Marine 3521 is expected, and can be forced, to go perform that duty in a combat environment. Have their been entire decades in which a soldier/mechanic never saw anything more violent than a movie? Yes. Is that the case today? No. Will that be the case in the future? Who knows.

Even though the actual job of fixing car, overseeing shipping, whatever, could be done by a civilian, outside of a war theater, those capabilities are needed in the event of war. And where they are needed is where the war is, and that includes the places where bullets sometimes fly and mortar rounds have been know to drop.

The military can hire civilians to do a lot of jobs that soldier/Marines/sailors and whatnot have done, and in some cases still do. The job itself does not require military skills. Conducting that same job in a theater of operations does require military skill. And military mechanics do go in harms way when there is a war on.
Quote:
I called the battalion on the radio and requested Goodwrench, the mechanical support team. The Motor Transport guys are not recon Marines, and the younger team operators sometimes deride them as pogues. [People Other than Grunts] I never heard those disparagements from the older Marines in the platoon. That afternoon I learned why.

Five minutes after my call for help, Staff Sergeant Brinks came chugging up the highway in his hand-me-down five-ton Army truck, oblivious to the bullets snapping past. He eased down the embankment, where Stinertoff continued to unleash bursts on our assailants. Hopping down from the cab with a grin, Brinks said, "Howdy, sir. What's up?" I was so strung-out on adrenaline I could hardly speak, and I wasn't sure if his cheeriness was heroism or folly. In time I would learn it's simply the best way to get the job done.
There are military mechanics and shipping clerks* that will never hear a shot fired in anger. But there are very few support functions that are exempt from potential combat risk during a time of war.

I'm not trying to say that a Motor T mechanic is the same as an 0311 in the Fifth Marines. But Motor T has to be able to support the Fifth Marines in a war theater. That means the unit, and all the Mechanics, have to be capable of defending themselves, and doing their jobs in a combat environment. You don't create that capability from scratch when a war comes along. The jobs they do are vital, we can't leave every broken down tank or Humvee laying out in the dessert until the war is over and a civilian mechanic can come along and fix it. That equipment needs to get back in the war.

*Jessica Lynch was a supply clerk in an army quartermaster corp battalion. They were armed and had been trained to some degree in the use of their weapon and some combat tactics. However, it was not their full-time job and the mistakes that were made lead to deaths and loss of any equipment and material the unit was transporting with them. Their officer read his map wrong, they couldn't communicate with their radios, and ultimately, many weapons malfunctioned which is a sign of poor maintenance and a lack of inspections. Combat units have to concentrate on their combat skills like map reading, communications, weapons. But support units have not always received the training, or leadership, they really deserve to survive anything other than minor brushes with trouble. When failure to be ready meets up with bad guys ready to go to war, bad stuff happens.
Quote:
Though the 507th is not designated as a combat unit, supply and maintenance troops receive the same basic training as all other soldiers, learning not only marksmanship but also survival, evasion and resistance techniques in case of capture. They travel lightly armed: Each soldier carries a sidearm, and the convoy often includes .50-caliber machine guns.

"You shouldn't by any means assume these are civilians walking around in uniform to change the oil on trucks," said retired Lt. Gen. Don Lionetti, the commander who led Ft. Bliss during the 1991 Persian Gulf War. "They're armed and able to defend themselves to some extent -- but not when they're surrounded by an armored column."
What happens when support units can't operate in combat? People die because vehicles weren't recovered and repaired from the battlefield and grunts had to walk, ammo doesn't make it to where it's getting shot out of barrels toward the enemy, food and water isnt' delivered and units become combat ineffective, etc.

I'm not trying to equate support people with front line warriors, but there's no way you can equate them with civilians doing the same job. Not until Mike the Mechanic or Sally the Shipping Clerk know how to lead a squad assault, position a squad machine gun properly, can call in an air-strike or naval gunfire, or any of the other skills needed to do their civilian skills in a theater of operations. You can't exempt support people from being combat survivable just until war comes along.

You can only civilianize functions that will never ever go to war.
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Old 09-14-2009, 06:14 AM   #114
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Texas Proud-- I am positive about time counting not counting toward retirement. Each branch has different programs, but generally officers are found by recruiters cruising the colleges, ROTC, or the Academies. In the first instance the person was not in the military so they don't receive any time at all. In the second instance, unless they changed the program, the student is placed in a non-deployable reserve slot. So they do reserve duty, but can not deploy. Any active duty time they do while in the Reserves is counted toward retirement, but that is the same if the person decided to go in as enlisted after serving in the reserves. I believe the third case is the same as the second. Once in the military there are programs to go from enlisted to officer. The crown jewel is the program where you are paid as an E-5 but get to go to college and are guaranteed a commission once you graduate (that is probably the one you were being sold). In this situation your time definitely counts toward retirement, however when I was looking at that program all the Air Force would allow is two years and you had to have at least an associates degree before applying. It was very competitive and few people actually were approved for the program, at least when I applied. Not only did I have to meet all of the requirements, I had to get letters of recommendation from, I think, two officers and needed a bunch of other hoops jumped through. It is no wonder they wouldn't put it in writing, they were telling you of a program you could apply for, not one that you were going to get.

As far as pay...The general rules are allowances are not taxable, everything else is. Only base pay is used for calculating retirement. Military pay will screw up your pay in a heart beat. Actually my last enlistment my pay went rather smoothly. During my initial enlistment I was arguing and fighting with military pay normally every six months. As far as which pays a person qualifies for it is all written in the regulations and is very simple, once you know the program. In the Air Force they were going to flight pay based on hours flown. this gave those with more hours more pay, but I don't know any details of that program or how well it worked. Tax exempt, family separation, and all of the rest of the pays were very simple to figure out and they had very clear regulations implementing them.

Maybe the reason the military can offer such lucrative retirements is because they do the twenty and out. Anything less and all you get, if they like you, is thanks for your service have a nice life. If the military had to start funding other post service benefits I think it would hamper pay and retirement benefits. I don't think that would be a good idea.

As far as gaming the system for retirement, the two local agencies I worked for based retirement on the average of the final three or five years of work, but being small agencies even if someone tried to game the system it would only bump their retirement pay maybe 5 or 10 per month. We didn't get much overtime. The current federal agency I work for averages it for the final three, but if they determine that you bump up the O/T significantly on the final three years they won't count it. I don't know the details of how or what qualifies as a "significant increase", but that is how it is written and I have many, many years left to figure it out.
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Old 09-14-2009, 09:25 AM   #115
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Let's retire...

OK... another post with lots of info... I am learning a lot on this thread...

Yes, they were selling me the E-5 one you mention... but they were making it out like it was a 'done deal'... that it was so common that I should not worry about it... to me, it did not sound so easy... it also meant that if everything turned out as planned, I would be in the Navy for 10 years... and I thought about that for awhile... and thought... well, if you are half way there, you probably would stay until you got 20.... so I was thinking... I am 19... and I am about to make a decision that will be 10 years... or 20 years... do I want to sign Nope, I could not do it... to much of a commitment for me at that time... Oh... if things went 'belly up' and I did not go to college... I still had to serve 6 years...

BTW, I knew a couple of people that enlisted to go to nuclear school... none made it through the whole program... maybe Nords can enlighten us, but one guy said they had a 90% drop out rate.. SOOOO, you are still stuck in the Navy, but you do not get the training you thought you would get... the one guy who was a good friend back then did get on a sub... and I think his total tour was only 5 years instead of the six he signed up for... but I know he was pissed at the recruiter...


On a side note concerning recruiting.... I was at a Subway shop the other day, munching down on my $5 foot long.... and an army guy was trying to recruit the 4 guys in the booth in front of me.... these guys looked more like gang members.. so I thought it interesting he was recruiting them.... after he left they had a great time laughing at him...
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Old 09-14-2009, 10:09 AM   #116
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Originally Posted by Texas Proud View Post
Are you sure college does not count toward your time? I ask that because when I was getting out of high school... I was being recruited big time
I asked why they would not put down that I would be able to go to college on my forms... 'can't do it'... and other BS... so they were telling me that IF I got approved
Yes and no.

Service academy time used to count for retirement way back in the 1950s when it was temporarily used to clear out the deadwood encourage more officers to retire sooner. But it doesn't count today.

The Navy experiments with several programs that are covered by Congressional legislation. Congress passes the laws, Navy implements them with instructions, and they're used when deemed appropriate. One of those is "Seaman to Admiral", which may or may not still be in effect, where a selected sailor goes to college on the Navy's dime & time. Extremely competitive-- maybe only 20-30 sailors/year. College time counts toward retirement (college is a duty station) but there's a significant obligation.

Spouse and I attended the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey. I spent 33 months there (slow learner) and the first 12 months carried a three-for-one obligation. The other 21 months were "only" one-for-one. Back in 1987 the nuke bonus program was in its infancy, very few submariners attended NPS, and no one had thought through the concept of overlapping commitments. The result was that I incurred an obligation of four years & nine months and was not able to sign up for a nuclear bonus (with its five-year obligation) until I'd served the first obligation. Back then I "only" lost $50K but today that'd be $125K. A seaman-to-admiral selectee shipmate picked up a multi-year obligation for his degree time and then essentially locked himself out of bonus pay for the better part of a decade.

One day in the late 1990s we old phart relatively senior officers swapped data on 30 years of submarine bonuses through various incentive programs. It turns out that although the amounts have increased quite impressively, they generally haven't kept up with inflation. So even the bonus program is getting stingier.

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Originally Posted by Texas Proud View Post
but looking at the chart Nords sent was making my head spin... you get more if you are on ship (or not).. in a combat zone... this or that, mix or match... some taxable, some not... this does not seem to be KISS....
You'd be amazed how quickly everyone figures it out. We're talking real money here!

The sad fact, though, is that many are willing to trade a one-time bonus payment for a perpetually lower retirement. REDUX gives anyone a $30K (taxable) lump sum at the 15th year of service in exchange for that (usually) smaller retirement check and (always) a lower COLA. When you do the spreadsheets for each rank and length of service, about the only time it's a good deal is for an E-9 who stays for 30 years... and even then it's only a few thousand dollars over 30 years of retirement. No one is an E-9 at 15 years of service, so it's a huge roll of the dice to permanently lower one's pension in hopes of promoting to an extremely competitive rank in hopes of coming out an insignificant amount ahead. In other words it only appeals to people who expect to stay on active duty for 30 years anyway-- or for those who can't do math.

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Originally Posted by Texas Proud View Post
I am proposing something like... if you sign up for a 2 year tour (or maybe 4)... we put money aside for college etc... like we currently do... after your first tour... if you sign up again... we start putting money aside for you for a retirement.... say 4 or 5% for you second tour... 6 or 7 for your third... 8 or 9 for your 4th.... maybe max out at 15%... so when you are in your last years... there is a good amount of money being put aside for you.. a good incentive...
It'll get there in another generation or so. The military's TSP didn't even get started until 2000. It used to be severely limited (only 6% of pay IIRC) but soon ramped up to the IRS limits. Congress has legislated that bonus pay and some other pays can be deposited into the TSP but each service implements that differently. The legislation also allows for a match but I don't think any of the services are planning to do that. Don't know.

The latest GI Bill is easily the best since WWII, and the GI Bill at that time was the world's largest subsidized education program. Since the new GI Bill can be transferred to spouse & kids (under certain conditions) then it's probably even better than WWII. The programs in the 1970s-80s were not good deals, and one of the reasons I went to Monterey is because I'd decided that I'd rather get the degree in exchange for my own time rather than my own money.

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Originally Posted by Texas Proud View Post
... and you get a promotion just before you retire... so you 'final pay' goes up (again, the Houston police chief got this with a few days of higher salary)... this costs money for the rest of the person's life... if you have put aside a percent of their salary... then they have an incentive to move up sooner...
The military pay tables close a lot of those loopholes now. Six months before I retired I received a "targeted pay raise" of 5.7% (at a time when the average raise was about 2.5%). It was a blatant bureaucratic screwup on BUPERS' part but we all accepted it as our long-overdue just reward-- or at least as partial compensation for all the other pay snafus that had screwed us over the years. That 5.7% immediately raised my "Final Pay" pension by 5.7% plus decades of COLAs.

However the last of the military's "Final Pay" dinosaurs are retiring. The vast majority are already gone and by 2015 there'll only be a trickle of them. Today's pension is calculated on the "High Three" average of the highest 36 months of pay. A 5.7% targeted pay raise just before retirement wouldn't even move the needle.

In 2007 the pay tables were expanded to 40 years (retiring at 100% of base pay). Again each service can decide how to implement the system, but flag officers and E-9s can already stay to 40 if they wish. Hypothetically a flag officer (who'd put on his first star at about 22 years of service) could stay on active duty until at least age 62, and there are very very few ER flag officers. Some see this change as encouragement for what very senior officers & enlisted would be doing anyway, others see it as the first attempt to slow down promotions and delay retirements since most seniors currently reach their highest ranks by the 25th year of service. It would be very easy to expand the 40-year privilege to E-7s & up, warrant officers, and O-6s.

At the other end of the spectrum, Congress has authorized "early" retirement for Reservists who've been mobilized since January 2008. IIRC long-term mobilizations (180 days or longer) can reduce the retirement age day-for-day. Essentially (with a lot of sneaky caveats) a Reservist who was mobilized for a year could start receiving their Reserve pension at age 59 instead of age 60. It's hoped that a full rollout would be retroactively applied to 9/11 and allow retirements to start as "young" as age 55. What this would do is dramatically improve the rate of people who'd stay Reserve after active duty, and who perhaps wouldn't mind the occasional year of orders. That fills in a lot of cracks & gaps in the personnel-assignment system...
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Old 09-14-2009, 01:50 PM   #117
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Let's retire...

OK... another post with lots of info... I am learning a lot on this thread...

Yes, they were selling me the E-5 one you mention... but they were making it out like it was a 'done deal'... that it was so common that I should not worry about it... to me, it did not sound so easy... it also meant that if everything turned out as planned, I would be in the Navy for 10 years... and I thought about that for awhile... and thought... well, if you are half way there, you probably would stay until you got 20.... so I was thinking... I am 19... and I am about to make a decision that will be 10 years... or 20 years... do I want to sign Nope, I could not do it... to much of a commitment for me at that time... Oh... if things went 'belly up' and I did not go to college... I still had to serve 6 years...

BTW, I knew a couple of people that enlisted to go to nuclear school... none made it through the whole program... maybe Nords can enlighten us, but one guy said they had a 90% drop out rate.. SOOOO, you are still stuck in the Navy, but you do not get the training you thought you would get... the one guy who was a good friend back then did get on a sub... and I think his total tour was only 5 years instead of the six he signed up for... but I know he was pissed at the recruiter...


On a side note concerning recruiting.... I was at a Subway shop the other day, munching down on my $5 foot long.... and an army guy was trying to recruit the 4 guys in the booth in front of me.... these guys looked more like gang members.. so I thought it interesting he was recruiting them.... after he left they had a great time laughing at him...
Im reading all of your posts and it sounds as if you are trying to arguing on the side of "military pensions should be revamped..lowered..whatever"....but then even YOU say that when presented with the option of joining the military, you didnt want to do it. It seems to me, that you are making the case for the rest of us. The overall package deal including pay and benefits wasnt high enough to compenstate you for the life committment you wouldve had to make.
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Old 09-14-2009, 02:37 PM   #118
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Im reading all of your posts and it sounds as if you are trying to arguing on the side of "military pensions should be revamped..lowered..whatever"....but then even YOU say that when presented with the option of joining the military, you didnt want to do it. It seems to me, that you are making the case for the rest of us. The overall package deal including pay and benefits wasnt high enough to compenstate you for the life committment you wouldve had to make.

I did not go into the military because I saw that my commitment was to long for someone who was 19 years old. What I wanted to do would have been a 10 year commitment... and after that 10 years I would not have had any retirement (not sure of this, but it is what I remember)... so, after that 10 years it would only be 10 more to have a pension for the rest of your life... most definately a stong incentive... I could see myself chosing that IF I had made it to 10 years... and I did NOT want the military to BE my career... I did not want to make a life commitment at that time... I really did not know what I wanted to do... the only thing at that time was 'do something'... so in a way, making you get 20 years to get a pension hindered me joining... (and the fact that I did not beleive the recruiter about college... which was the biggest reason I did not join)..

BTW, this was back in 76, 77... the military was not looked upon favorably at that time... also around that time my BIL was due to get out of the Navy and some officer got mad at him for some reason and had him put the the brig on some trumped up charge... he was not able to call my sister and let her know what was happening.. it took his father who knew a few Congressmen to look into what was happening to get him released... after one month IIRC...

I currently have a niece in the Marines... and she loves it... I have a nephew who is looking to sign up so they can train him as a doctor.. neither of them went (or plan to go) into the military to make it a career... the pension meant nothing to them... I suspect the neice will be in for the full time, but I suspect the nephew will take his training (if he does sign up) and leave...
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Old 09-14-2009, 05:36 PM   #119
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If making you get 20 years to get a pension hindered you joining, what do you think delaying the pension to age 57 which might be more like 35 years in the military...would do to recruitments?

Again, you are making our point for us. Joining the military, especially as a career, is the biggest committment that most people will ever make and the sacrifices that come along with it will definately not be duplicated again in almost anyones life.

If they dissaude more people from joining by raising the pension age that high, they might as well re-enact the draft.

Thank your neice and nephew for me.
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Old 09-15-2009, 10:58 AM   #120
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If making you get 20 years to get a pension hindered you joining, what do you think delaying the pension to age 57 which might be more like 35 years in the military...would do to recruitments?

Again, you are making our point for us. Joining the military, especially as a career, is the biggest committment that most people will ever make and the sacrifices that come along with it will definately not be duplicated again in almost anyones life.

If they dissaude more people from joining by raising the pension age that high, they might as well re-enact the draft.

Thank your neice and nephew for me.

You are confusing two thoughts.... the first is how long you have to work to get a pension... the second is when you start to receive one... I am all for starting to earn a pension at an earlier time (put money aside), but not willing to pay the person at an early age (let money go out the door)... now, if this was not a defined benefit plan with COLA etc... then maybe I would change my mind and say you can take your pension whenever you want... you just get an annuity based on how much money there is in the pot and when you want to start... but we do not live there....

Having to work 20 years in order to get a pension is NOT good... that is why I was saying they should put money aside starting after their initial tour... so they 'earn' a pension starting in year 4 or 5... not much of one, but there is money there... (BTW... when I was young... I worked for a company that stopped their pension... was there one year and got a check for IIRC about $500... not great, but something)...

The second is when do you have access to that money... I think starting to pay any pension at such and early age is not wise... it costs a LOT of money... (now, I am sure someone can tell me the actual numbers... because I have not looked them up)... with a lot of potential liability...
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