When you're in the military, "early retirement" generally means being retired before reaching 20 years of service. It implies being kicked out due to downsizing or medical issues. Although there's still a COLA pension and healthcare, it's less money and it's not the same ER as in the sense of "served my time, never working again". Veterans have been known to fight against being "early retired" because they'd prefer to leave at their own discretion-- or at least have more time to prepare.
Early-Retirement.org is showing up on Google searches for <military medical "early retirement"> (military medical "early retirement" - Google Search
). I think that veterans facing early retirement are researching it on the Internet and hoping that E-R.org can answer their question, like this guy:
Reading to inform myself....
It doesn't happen very often (five or six posts over the last couple years?) but that's changing as the board gets bigger and as Google has more links to work with:
24-Year old with Chrons Discharged without benefits.
15yrs and NAVY says you must retire???
18 years active duty facing medical retirement board
I'd appreciate the board's help in putting together a generic response to this topic, which I'll add to the FAQ archives. Here's what I've cobbled together from the other threads:
- Visit your base legal staff and read through the regs that govern your situation. Don't just talk with them-- ask for their help in reviewing the specific instructions & regulations and how they pertain to you. Ask them if there's any way to acquire an advocate or an ombudsman who can monitor your case and make sure you're treated right. You want to know the differences among a regular retirement, a few months/years on the Temporary Disabled Retirement List, and a medical/disability retirement. Even if you make it to 20 there's the strong possibility that you'll have a disability rating.
- Legal may be able to determine whether the paperwork was done correctly and whether the medical board is following the applicable procedure. It might help to emphasize that you just want to make sure this is all done correctly the first time so that you don't ever have to revisit it.
- Visit the instructors of the local transition assistance course for retiring veterans. They know the general provisions of veteran's benefits programs. More importantly they have the references & instructions and they know who to call for questions.
- The base hospital may offer a support group for medical conditions leading to early retirement. If there's one in your area then you can discuss your situation with them and find out their experiences.
- Military.com's "Your Military Advantage" is an excellent guide to figure out what you're already entitled to and what you may be able to fight for. The author lays out the best benefits explanation I've ever read, along with resources and references to the source documents.
- Military.com's discussion boards may have others in the same situation who can share their knowledge & experience. There may also be valuable advice on one of the service-related boards like http://Marines.togetherweserved.com/ and its Navy/Air Force counterparts.
- If nothing else works, try the advice of the posters at GruntsMilitary discussion board (GruntsMilitary.com :: Index). Many of them are 100% disabled and can tell you exactly how to work the process. But be aware that these guys have a few rough edges and they do not tolerate foolishness.
- Visit one of your local veteran's organizations like the American Legion or the VFW and ask for their advice. They'll be able to tell you about the local VA or other resources.
- If you rate a Purple Heart then make sure you get it and that it's on your DD-214. It has a bearing on both your pension and your veteran's benefits.
Setting aside the retirement questions for a minute, please take care of yourself. Find the best medical advice you can get, and follow it regardless of whether you're expected to be fully qualified to return to duty. Don't risk a lesser approach, and don't end up in the hands of a quack, just because they're promising that you'll be fully restored to duty. There are many LIMDU alternatives to "100% worldwide deployable" and the military isn't exactly so overburdened with career veterans that they can afford to discard them. The medical-board process will attempt to find a way to get you to 20 or to do the right retirement by your medical prognosis.
Anything else we should add?