Question for Military retiree

RLTW

Dryer sheet aficionado
Joined
Jun 22, 2007
Messages
28
I know about the pension plan, but can someone tell me about the other perks about retiring from the military? Also about the negatives, that you might have planned for but it turned out different then you thought.

I would like to know rough numbers (for ex. 1. + Health insurance rates are lower, the average insurance $450-$750.)

But any answers would be appreciated. Thanks
 
I know about the pension plan, but can someone tell me about the other perks about retiring from the military? Also about the negatives, that you might have planned for but it turned out different then you thought.

I would like to know rough numbers (for ex. 1. + Health insurance rates are lower, the average insurance $450-$750.)

But any answers would be appreciated. Thanks

The Pension is the biggest advantage, IMHO, but you know about that. Health care is the next biggest advantage, though some retired military might question just how much of an advantage it is. I've never had problems with military health care, though you may want to check a thread on this I started in the Health section.

As a retiree you have three plans to choose from. 1) Tricare Prime, an HMO-type plan in which you use military facilities (if available) for free or a very low copay for inpatient, 2) Tricare Standard, in which you have a choice of civilian doctors but pay 25% of allowable with a $3000 yearly cap, and 3) Tricare Extra which is like Standard but with a 20% copay for doctors within a network. The enrollment costs per year are a few hundred dollars (e.g., $230 for Prime). Rather than explain them in detail, here is a link:
TRICARE - Military Health Care - Military Benefits - Military.com

Other benefits include using the Morale Welfare and Recreation (MWR) facilities on any military base, including golf courses, marinas, gymansiums, camping sites, and base exchange and commissary. Gyms are usually free, while the other rec facilities charge but are cheaper than civilian faciltiies. I would guess they are 15-25% less than comparable civilian facilities. Exchanges and commissaries are cheaper than traditional grocery stores, but not necessarily cheaper than discount stores.

You can also use space available seats on military aircraft that happen to be going to where you want to go, but I don't know many people who actually take advantage of this. The problem is you may have a hard time getting back, and you need a very loose schedule.

Other benefits? The pride of knowing you served your country and the knowledge that if they ever called you would go back, though in my case I would need a larger waistline in my uniforms.

Disadvantages? Can't think of any -- not for retirees. There are obvious disadvantages while active duty, family separations, on call 24/7, limited choice of jobs and locations, etc, but once you punch all of that is behind.
 
RLTW,
- Great name you picked! And yes, Rangers Lead the Way!
- SoontoRetire hit the biggies. I'd add that USAA insurance/banking is very nice (though you don't have to be retired to have access).
- Regarding the pension: The fact that it is inflation indexed and guaranteed by the US government put it into an entirely different league from most private pensions. This allows many of us to feel comfortable investing a larger portion of our retirement savings into higher-risk (and higher-return) areas( stocks instead of a higher %age of bonds, etc). This translates into real money over time.
- I get a lot of use out of the base woodworking shop. I never had much time for this on active duty. And, they have the perfect tools: Professional-grade, and somebody else does the sharpening!
 
Just thought of another advantage. The right to be an armchair general and [-]bitc[/-] provide constructive criticism about the course our country is taking, the way the military is not like it was in the old days, and the SNAFU things done in the military.
 
I retired from AD on 7/1/1979 so I have been through it pre-Tricare (when you had to purchase your medical coverage either though a supplement to CHAMPUS if you did not have access to a military facility). Tricare, IMO, was the best thing to happen to retired military and purchased prime all the time I needed it (you knew exactly what you were paying). Since I am now over 65 Tricare for Life supplements MEDICARE so our out of pocket expense are currently 0 (if you do not count the MEDICARE Part B preimums). The COLA'd Retired Pay (I do not know why some insist on calling it a Pension as the VA pays pensions) is the best of all of the benefits. As a real-life example my Retired Pay has increased 273% over the past 28 years.
 
Besides the retirement pay that is COLAd, I'd agree that Tricare Prime, at a cost of $230 annually per person, is a great deal with free RX included.

One benefit that is often overlooked is the fact that you can stay at temporary military lodging facilities around the world. If you do any traveling, this can amount to an excellent benefit. You can reserve rooms in advance and avoid steep local taxes with low rates. See below for more details. They publish a nice guide that you can usually buy at the Exchange for about $10. Military Living Publications link.
 
I know about the pension plan, but can someone tell me about the other perks about retiring from the military? Also about the negatives, that you might have planned for but it turned out different then you thought.
Ross, is that you? I thought your leave was over-- aren't you back in training now?

Just kidding. The best rundown I've ever seen on military benefits (retired and otherwise) is Chris Michel's "The Military Advantage" (see Military.com). There may be a copy at a local library or on base, but it's incredibly comprehensive.

I've been pleasantly surprised at our civilian medical clinic, especially by the energy and inquisitiveness of the residents. No way would I go back to our local military facility unless I was hemorrhaging after hours. However the quality of care can vary widely by location, not all civilian doctors want to deal with TRICARE, and even the local VA clinic may be top-notch.

I've learned that our local personnel support detachment expects every customer, no matter their status, to dress in appropriate business attire. When I went in to renew our daughter's ID card I was kicked out by a petty tyrant for having the audacity, in Hawaii, to wear a tank top. I brought a windbreaker back inside, donned & zipped it up in the waiting area, and completed our business. Hopefully everyone will have transferred before I need to go in there again.

Your pension can be boosted by receiving the Purple Heart or the Medal of Honor. I mention this trivia because many guys feel that it's a good macho idea to turn down a Purple Heart, but if you earned it then it can put a little extra in your pension check. Assuming you survive the experience.

While the grass certainly looks greener from your side of the fence, I'd encourage you not to hang around strictly for the pension benefits. Getting to 20 can take a huge physical & mental toll if it's a bad duty station or a tough family situation, and the stress can literally kill. Stick around as long as you're having fun, but if you insist on staying until retirement then at least consider doing so in the Reserves or the National Guard.
 
How does that work Nords? I got a PH years ago, but I do not believe it factored into my retire pay?
It boosts your VA priority to Group 3 (I and many others are currently Group 8):
VA Health Care Eligibility - Military Benefits - Military.com

It earns additional points for federal (and many states) civil-service hiring priority:
Careers

It can affect combat-related special compensation:
http://www.military.com/ContentFiles/NEW _Retirement_HR_1588.htm
Retirees Due Back Pay

Utah will waive undergraduate tuition fees:
Military Report - Utah Offers Tuition Waivers

In Hawaii it can get you a special vanity license plate, too. And I bet a good VA ferret could find at least that much more!

The PH is supposed to be on your DD214, and that's supposed to make your name pop up in all the databases. I don't know about your DD214, but mine was so full that I had to squabble with BUPERS and the personnel people to make sure that everything got on there.

Another source of this type of info is the discussion board at GruntsMilitary.com. They're a pretty rough & gruff bunch who tend to shoot first and ask questions later (I was banned after my first post!) but they're a wealth of info about working the VA and the retirement system.
 
I just retired from the National Guard. I have just over 19 years until I start collecting my retirement check and am eligible for tricare.

A lot can change in 19 years. I hope with the amount of new combat veterans and all the support for the troops that benefits are increased, and not cut.

As a gray area retiree I can, and do, use the commissary, PX (online and in person), MWR etc. It helps that I work on a small Navy base. The base also has an auto shop, that I will try out shortly. I think they shut down the wood working shop. They also have a nice marina (cheap!), tho I am too chicken to take my boat on the ocean for now.

I can only take advantage of the space A travel by myself. My spouse is only able to join me when I turn 60.
 
Ok, thanks Nords. It seems to affect the benefits of retirement, but not the retired pay that a service member receives upon retirement.
Only the CRSC effect, which may be negligible.

IIRC a MOH awardee gets a 10% boost to their pension, but that program may no longer be around. Considering how many MOHs are posthumous it's probably not considered worthy of publicizing.
 
More on temporary lodging facilities, or billeting as we call in the Air Force world....I just got back from a 1 week school at Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station, in New York. It's right outside town of Niagara Falls, which is of course, right across the river from Canada and all of the Falls attractions stuff. It's a great place to vacation, and I'll go back sometime for a full-on visit free from the encumbrances of w##k. There are lots of hotels on both sides of the border, the nicer ones on the Canadian side. But.....the best thing going is that only 5 or so minutes from the Falls is this little base, with an excellent billeting facility, very nice rooms with king bed, fridge, microwave, nice carpets & pics on the wall, very nice indeed, with some great looking & friendly young ladies working the front desk for your convenience, I'm talking first rate place, for the small sum of $33 per night U.S. I highly reccommend this place if you're authorized. In 30 years service, I've stayed all over the US & various other countries. Some real nice places, a very few s**tholes. Nowadays, they're mostly pretty nice. I don't reccommend the Navy Billeting at Key West, of course it may have changed since I was there in 1985......
 
Marty, thanks for the tip on Niagara Falls. This might be a good thread, to share good and bad space A billeting experiences. I had a good experience at the Annapolis naval lodge, across the Severn from the Academy. It's $69 but that's a lot cheaper than any other equivalent place in Annapolis, it's only a few miles from downtown, and it's been renovated.

Here is another deal, I haven't tried it but am intrigued -- it's a set of condo timeshares available for active and retired military, the Armed Forces Vacation Club. They have places all over the world for $329 a week.

Armed Forces Vacation Club
 
Last edited:
Here is another deal, I haven't tried it but am intrigued -- it's a set of condo timeshares available for active and retired military, the Armed Forces Vacation Club. They have places all over the world for $329 a week.

Armed Forces Vacation Club
They're consolidators, so they usually get their best deals on shorter notice.

Great organization-- we use AFVC for interisland vacations. Used to be $299/week; they only recently raised their prices.
 
I have been thinking about a trip to Niagara Falls for about a year now. We were going next week and based on the comment here called up to the AF Station at Niagara Falls. My thinking was that they would be booked far in advance, but, they said "no problem"; next week two days check in 2 PM check out 11 AM, 15 minutes from the Falls (shuttle bus available). Room has Refrigerator, Iron and Ironing Board (anyone know what these are?) and a Coffee Maker. There is a BX also on the installation. The site is co-located with the Niagara Falls International Airport (not the Buffalo one). Cost: $33.00 a night for 3 of us. Needless to say we are going to go. (DW, DGD (Granddaughter) and I).
 
Thanks everyone for the information. First I will never use the phase “pension” again when I am speaking of Cola’d Retirement Pay(thanks R Wood). I forgot about all the good deals on lodging, and I can use that information now to save some money on my vacations. Also, Nords – So do you think you would have been better off if you left the Navy and went to the private sector? Would you have been able to retire at 42?
 
The Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station is about 20-25 minutes drive from the Buffalo Int Air Port, if you're flying in. The Niagara Falls IAP is pretty small, I didn't really check it out & don't know what kind of flights go in & out of there. I flew into Buffalo. Glad to help with the billeting info, it really is a great service that I'll be taking plenty of advantage of once I'm retired. As far as the Armed Forces Vacation Club, I have a couple of friends who use it and swear by it, and although I've looked it over a few times on line, I haven't tried it out yet. My boss says I've been on too many trips this year, and have to stay around the shop for a few months now. However, I'm planning to slide myself back out to Tucson for a couple of weeks in October or November. I've never stayed in the billeting there, aparently it's frequently full so I almost always am "forced" to stay someplace down town like the Radisson or Marriott. In the last 5 yrs, I've been to Tucson on business at least once each year, and have always gotten great hotels. Of course, that's with my employer paying.
 
I don't know if "pension" is right or wrong, but that's what I call it. I'll have 2 of them, whatever they are. My civil service cola pension starts in 5 yrs, and my AF reserves cola pension will begin exactly 5 years later. I'm not ashamed, I believe I have earned and fully deserve these retirements. I'd like to see somebody out there in July in Texas in 100 degree heat, high 90's humidity, wearing a charcoal-lined chemical warfare suit (you'd have to experience it to understand) full-face gas mask, rubber hood, rubber gloves, rubber boots, with absolutely zero of your skin exposed - and stay in this getup for at least 6 hours, not sitting in the shade, which would be torturous enough, but working out on the hot ass flightline with your weapons load crew humping bombs, missiles & ammo onto F-4 (later F-16)fighter jets as fast as you can carry your heat-stroke approaching butt. This is just one of many fond memories....like I said I believe I've earned my money & my retirements. I have seen a few posts suggesting civil servants may be overcompensated or something to that effect. I invite those folks to come help me completely dissasemble, inspect & reassemble a 30mm seven barrel GAU-8 gun system from an A-10 attack aircraft, or crawl up into the cockpit of a B-52 & sit there in the heat for an hour while we do some functional checks of the release system...OK, stepping off the soapbox now :).
 
Last edited:
Anyone happen to know if being a disabled veteran, if I would qualify (and the wife) for one of Tri-care programs? I can go to the VA, but at the moment the wife does not have medical insurance. Plus I need something for traveling out of the country.
 
Also, Nords – So do you think you would have been better off if you left the Navy and went to the private sector?
Good question.

First, I had no freakin' idea what I would do in the private sector. Lee Cohen, a classmate, works at Lucas Group and I'd get a call every year or so. I would've plowed through all the surveys & assessments, we would've decided that I'd make a great nuclear engineer, I would've started working for Exelon on my reactor operator's license, and my spouse would've run away screaming into the night.

Second, even if I would've started a [-]military subcontractor[/-] career [-]at HECO[/-] someplace on Oahu then my active-duty spouse, no longer anchored by her co-located active-duty military husband, would've been sent to a year's unaccompanied tour forecasting the flight weather out of Diego Garcia. That would've sucked. That had a lot to do with keeping us both on active duty, although in retrospect it was more years of suffering than the tour would have been.

Third, I eventually would've figured out the Navy Reserve and stayed on semi-continuous active duty of one form or another. That could even have morphed into some sort of contractor or civil-service career but spouse and I would still have been fighting her assignment officer. She probably would've eventually pulled chocks for the Reserve also.

So I don't think I would have done better financially in the private sector, but the quality of life would probably have been better.

The biggest impact on our ER was being a dual-wage couple with no kids and no liberty to spend our paychecks. The second-biggest impact on our ER was the world's greatest bull market to compound all that DCA while we were LBYM.
 
Good question.

First, I had no freakin' idea what I would do in the private sector. Lee Cohen, a classmate, works at Lucas Group and I'd get a call every year or so. I would've plowed through all the surveys & assessments, we would've decided that I'd make a great nuclear engineer, I would've started working for Exelon on my reactor operator's license, and my spouse would've run away screaming into the night.

Second, even if I would've started a [-]military subcontractor[/-] career [-]at HECO[/-] someplace on Oahu then my active-duty spouse, no longer anchored by her co-located active-duty military husband, would've been sent to a year's unaccompanied tour forecasting the flight weather out of Diego Garcia. That would've sucked. That had a lot to do with keeping us both on active duty, although in retrospect it was more years of suffering than the tour would have been.

Third, I eventually would've figured out the Navy Reserve and stayed on semi-continuous active duty of one form or another. That could even have morphed into some sort of contractor or civil-service career but spouse and I would still have been fighting her assignment officer. She probably would've eventually pulled chocks for the Reserve also.

So I don't think I would have done better financially in the private sector, but the quality of life would probably have been better.

The biggest impact on our ER was being a dual-wage couple with no kids and no liberty to spend our paychecks. The second-biggest impact on our ER was the world's greatest bull market to compound all that DCA while we were LBYM.

I would say having 2 officer retirement pensions rocks too!
 
Back
Top Bottom