Thursday, August 25, 2011

Military Retirement: FAIR or NOT

Former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and now Secretary of Defense Leon Pannetta are having committees look at and suggest changes to the Military Retirement System. It was stated that "The board members are from big businesses -- experts, the Pentagon says, in executive management, corporate governance, audit and finance, human resources, economics, technology and health care." Associated Press|by Pauline Jelinek
I did not see if any of these "leaders" were former service members or not. I would make the assumption that they are not. There are several statistics that hit me as I read the article and will not quote them directly here. A couple of things stand out from my own experience in the US Army. First is that I never heard a recruiter refer to the Army as a career when talking to potential recruits. Recruiters talk about things such as education benefits. With $51,000.00 available for anyone currently serving for going to college or CC. Another recruiting pitch is soldiers can learn a skill. Many do very well at what the Army teaches them while others just want to get by and get out. There are certainly many Soldiers that enter the Army with the idea of making it a career and many of those never see service beyond their first enlistment. So that brings us to statistics. 17% of those who enter active duty retire after 20 or more years. The opposite of that is 83% who leave prior to the 20 year level.
So how does civilian careers compare to military careers? They don't! Take a military mechanic, supply/logistics soldier, truck driver or even medical careers. Though they sound like there is a direct correlation the jobs are vastly different. Look at the number of COMBAT ACTION BADGE awards (non combat arms jobs). 94,395 non combat soldiers were awarded the badge for combat actions in Iraq & Afghanistan, civilians are not in combat. The number of infantry soldiers awarded the COMBAT INFANTRYMAN BADGE is 64,741 for Iraq & Afghanistan. If non military citizens think that the medical field is exempt (don't even consider that stupid show on ABC) from combat, they are not. The COMBAT MEDICAL BADGE has been awarded 15,573 times for action in Iraq & Afghanistan.
So when the civilian heads of the military consider a change to the retirement plan don't ask a civilian with no military experience to come up with a better plan.
One more thing, no one in civilian employment gets a retirement after 5 or 10 years on the job.

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