Any military retirees here?

This is just general musing for me, but I thought I’d ask…(and mods if this belongs in GQ, pleas e move it) I’m a bit torn. I’ve made no secret that I am on active duty in the US Army, but my time in the Army is coming to an end…sort of.

I’m PCSing in about 3 weeks to Ft. Bragg from Europe. I requested to stay here until my 20 year mark, which is in May 09, but it was denied. I still kind of plan on putting in for retirement in the summer though. To me, its like the government throwing away money. The gaining unit will still be a man down this time next year if I retire…why spend the money moving me? Its not like DA doesn’t see how many years I have in. I’ve made it no secret that I’m seriously considering retirement. (My MOS they say is in critical need at Bragg…and its 25M, for those of you that know what that is)

But I’m worried about it. I don’t know if I’ll miss the Army that much or not. Its not the same army I joined 19 years ago, but I’ll miss a lot of it I’m sure. (and I’ve made up my mind that once I’m out, I’m out, I don’t want to do the Reserve or Guard thing. I came from the guard to active duty…I don’t want to do the weekend warrior thing anymore). I’ve met a lot of interesting people, I’ve been to a lot of places, but I’m not a spring chicken anymore. I think I might be happier in a government civilian job, but I’m not sure how I’ll feel not being a (active duty) soldier anymore. Sure they might stop-gap me, I guess. But after 20 years with hypertensdion, thyroid surgery and a spinal injury (that isn’t bothering me as much anymore, but still causes me a few twinges of pain) I’m feeling the years.

Any other retirees out there? How is life after 20 years? There are other things I’d like to do with my life…I’m just up in the air about whether or not I really want to get out or not…though I’m leaning towards yes. I’d like to know how other people that retired from the military feel.

Well, I am not personally a retiree, but my father and brother both retired USAF. My dad retired when I was 3 or 4. He should have stayed in, it was all he had ever known, and worked for him. Life just kind of got crazy for him when he got out, but it was nice for him to continue with so many benefits (medical care for 4 kids can be exorbitant!).

My brother couldn’t wait to get out. He now lives in Spain and is living a pretty nice life there. He used his career to further his personal goals (IT skills and language skills they taught him in the AF) and is now where he wants to be – an old, grey, fat hippy living in Spain.

You sound like you’re not sure about leaving, and that’s understandable. Have you considered going technician side and working for the Army as a civvie once you retire?

Not a retiree, but ex-military (Army Captain). I served 5 years on active duty and a year and a half in the guard, then got out entirely. About the only thing I really miss is the travel. I was stationed in Germany for most of my active duty time and I loved being able to travel. My wife and I went to 15 countries while I was over there. I also enjoyed the decisive action…you make a decision and execute. In the civilian world there is a lot more hedging and such between parties, and sometimes people won’t just do what they’re supposed to and get it over with. You spend a lot more time trying to coax people to do what you want without offending them. In the Army, I’d have just said “this is your responsibility…make it happen.” Can’t really do that a lot of the time. I’m a mechanical engineer and I deal with contractors / building inspectors / construction managers a lot, and while some are very good, others just don’t want to take responsibility for their work, and you have to sometimes tread very lightly.

Well, my MOS is technical. As I said, its 25M. That is as MultiMedia Technician. BasicallyI joined as a graphic designer, and I have a BFA in visual communication. I was a webmaster at my current assignement until they needed someone in IT, and I was switched over to that department. (Another guy with the same MOS was here with less experience in it…the powers that be here decided that it would benefit him more to let him work as the webmaster for awhile while letting me get IT experience. I’m no expert, but I’m pretty good at fixing minor problems in broken PC’s. Funny thing is, they’ve hired now a civilian webmaster.)

I don’t think I’ve got a bad resume’. The colonel here once told me that I had an impressive record. I’m not a super soldier or anything, but I do have my years of experience, and time working at the Pentagon, EUCOM HQ, and Recruiting (which sucked, but I made top recruiter once and for some reason people in the gov’t really like that). Not to mention a TS clearance.

Your brother sounds like he has it going on. I loved Spain when I was there. I wouldn’t mind being an old grey fat hippie there or Amsterdam.

So yeah, I’m thinking about going Army civvie. AFRICOM is looking for people right now, I know. I’m not saying I can’t take staying in, but I’m feeling my age, as I said. I’m good at what I do, but the physical stuff is beginning to hurt. (ten years ago I’d laugh at it, but I don’t seem to recover as quickly anymore. Funny how its the little things you notice first…for instance, ten years ago at Oktoberfest I was like “Bring it on!” after a slew of giant beers. Last week I had 2 and was like, “Thats enough I want to go to bed after my geritol and an aspirin.”) Besides, the soldiers I get are younger and younger, but I keep getting older it looks like. You know what I want? A house, a small yard and time to work on my artwork. I guess thats why I feel torn. I love being in the army, but its not the same army I joined and I think I’ve outgrown it a bit. I can only stay in 2 more years anyway given age and rank, (unless i get promoted again, which is, to be honest, likely in that time frame) .

Jman, I know what you mean. Not to knock on the USAF, but I have one troop right now, a USAF Senior Airman. We both work for a retired Marine. Often he’s railing on me to be harder on the SrA. Its kind of her fault. She plays the “I’m a chick” card way too much. I said I’m PCSing so today I told her (our boss is on leave for the week leaving me in charge of our dept.) I have things I have to do, so she has to handle stuff herself. I have transportion appointments, getting my car ready to be shipped, and furniture that belongs to the government that I need to arrange to be returned. I really HAVE to do this stuff, its not something I can put off. Her reply? “You’re not coming back after lunch? How am I going to handle everything myself?”…geez, louise. I’ve handled the entire department numerous times on my own (its seriously not that hard here…its NATO…being military here is almost like being a civilian) Plus, this is her Primary MOS…not mine…she knows way more about it than I do in reality. I told her this is her chance to shine. She’ll be an NCO one day, and this her chance to show everyone she can handle the pressure. Because I can’t be there by default…its all on her now. Its only relevant because most soldiers I know would jump at the chance to show their stuff in their primary MOS without a safety net. You were an officer, I am an NCO…so I think we both know that when we say “Do this” we expect it to happen when humanly possible without hearing the complaining. Especially when “Do this” isn’t really that hard. I always look at it like I wouldn’t tell you to do something you’re incapable of and i wouldn’t do myself.

(An aside: The other USAF personnel I know here are excellent. They’re more laid back than the Army or the marines, but they don’t bacl down from something that has to be done)

…and I’ve worked with civilians before so I’ve got my own stories of wanting to strangle someone just sucking Uncle Sam’s teat. But then I’ve known some that were great. I’ll always miss Mel and Sondra…two ex-soldiers that I worked with at the Pentagon that didn’t make it out of 9/11. They both taught me a lot about being an NCO just from working with them.

I know many ex-soldiers here in germany that are happy being ex soldiers, but i think its because they still work in the military community. One of them I worked with for a time. He was shocked to find out i was still in.

Not a retiree either, but I spend 11 years on active duty in the Navy, and another 3 years as a weekend warrior till I got fed up with the lousy unit I was assigned to and resigned.

The first couple of months off active duty, I was lost. I found out despite what recruiters had said, I really didn’t have any marketable skills. I’d been an electronic technician when I first enlisted, but when I went over to the dark side and became an officer, I was stuck in a management role (which I hated.) I had an engineering degree, but I was 5 years out of school and I’d never worked as an engineer. I even contacted a recruiter about going back in, but at the time my designator (Aeronautical Maintenance Duty Officer) was overmanned, so they wouldn’t even talk to me.

Fortunately, within a year, I got my first engineering job - working for the Navy as a civilian. I’ve been doing variations on that theme since 1985, and after that first year, there were no regrets. Well, except when my lifer friends started retiring at 39-40-41 and I was still facing another 15 years or so of work… Still, I’ve been happy. I know the lingo but I don’t have to wear the uniforms or play the stupid wardroom games. And even if I’d retired at 39 with 20, I’d have gone back to work. This way, I didn’t have to start over in my 40s.

well, as I said I will have 20 years in if i choose to retire. (in may, I’m sure my final out wouldn’t be until fall of 09 if I did even with terminal leave). I’m in my 40’s but starting over isn;'t what bothers me. I think I have the credentials for a decent civvie job after all. I just wonder if i’ll miss it.

But I’ll be honest…I stayed in AFTER my medical problems (which didn’t really become an issue until maybe 3 or 4 years ago) so I’d have benefits. Like most Americans I need medical insurance. My thyroid surgery a year ago took a lot of the wind out of my sails. (i’ll call it even for avoiding thyroid cancer, though I need to have a biopsy every 6 or so months on the other part)

I know I’ll have to go back to work. I just wonder if I’ll be happier. (I actually think I will be). But I’ll miss it. I unserstand what you’re saying though…I’m a bit tired of the games you have to play.

I’ll agree with what FairyChatMom has said. The first couple of months were a bit difficult. Mostly because what you think you should be putting on your resume isn’t what employers are looking for. So it takes a while to get into the swing of things. Also I’ll add that the month or two prior to getting out, there was a lot of second guessing on my part. While I was only in 6 years, it’s a bit of a plunge to get out and know that tomorrow there won’t be a place for you to sleep, eat, or get a paycheck from. Let’s face it, unless you screw up, you don’t have to worry about not having a job tomorrow or getting a paycheck. You don’t have to worry about medical, dental, life insurance…hell even making sure to get your license renewed on time or having your plates changed to the state you live in. You didn’t have to figure out what to wear based upon the type of work environment you’re applying for a job in. All those little things add up.

While I’m also a sucessful government contractor now, I spent the first 3 years when I got out doing work that was totaly separate from my Navy work. I wanted that clean break. Working with a lot of retired officers now, a lot of them have a hard time realizing that they’re not in uniform anymore. You can’t tell someone to get a haircut if you think it’s too long (for the most part), or demand that your employees stay until the job is done. Especially if you don’t have overtime approved for that contract. So I might suggest that you look at doing something non-government related for a while to help make that clean break and ease the transition from “Military” to “Civilian”.

Good Luck!

Forgot to add:

Forgot to mention this, and please take this the right way, but you may not be as qualified as you might think. I’ve been out for 12 years now…I’m established in this career as an Analyst and Subject Matter Expert in my field. While you (generic) you may have 20 years in, you’ve probably changed jobs countless times during that period and have moved from one type of position to another. So you don’t have an unbroken line of direct experience that will easily translate into a civilian job. For example a great guy I know that retired from the Marines after 20 or so was a Major when he retired had worked himself from enlisted, through Warrent officer to Officer. He worked for me. They guy with no degree. Why? Because I had been working that specific job for a lot longer than he had. So be prepared for a little hunting when you get out. If possible try to get some contacts from other retirees that work for companies in the area you’re thinking of retiring to. From what I can see, that’s how 80% of the guys around here get thier jobs. Good old boy network.

Not a retiree but I spent 10.5 years in the AF (I got out for personal reasons relating to my daughter–long story). Anyway, when I got out, I decided to go AF civilian. I’m still able to serve my country, and the pay/hours/benefits are great. And the job I have now is one I always wanted when I was active duty.

It was difficult making the adjustment from military to NOT military but I’ve never regretted the decision. My biggest suggestion(s) are to go ahead and get your resume in order NOW and to take advantage of any transition assistance programs they offer.

Retired AF. 20 years. I loved my career. I was a jack of all trades. Everything from blowing up airplanes (a/c survivability engineer) to satellite command and control to missileer, etc. Having said that, I never regretted retiring. You can actually concentrate on the job vs. worrying about all the military stuff like golden flow monitor, CFC chairperson, etc. Its actually quite liberating.

A couple of suggestions though. First, I don’t know what the Army calls it, but in the AF its Transition Assistance Program or TAP. They teach you how to be a civilian again, explain your benefits, help you with your resume’, even how to dress for an interview. If you’re 9 months out you should take it ASAP. Then take it again about 90 days out. The first time helps you get your act together. The second time gets you prepared to act. Most of the TAP sessions will have industry types visit, discuss what they look for on a resume’ and actually take resume’s for jobs they have open.

Second, manage your expectations and know yourself. I knew an O-6 who took a contracting job in a test squadron. His govt boss was a second lieutenant. He just couldn’t take orders from a second lieutenant and quit after a week. Another thing, no matter what they tell you, its a good bet you’ll be making less on the outside than you are in the AF unless you have skills and degrees that are pertinent on the outside but were of no use on the inside, e.g. you’re an infantry soldier but you have a business degree. On the subject of money, take my word for it, declare zero exemptions with your retirement pay and your new job. You’ll probably be in a higher tax bracket than if you just had a job.

Also, things are really open for retired military on the government side. If you’re interested, you get 5 points preference as a veteran and 10 points for a veteran with a disability. If you’re interested go to You need to apply for jobs about 6 months before you retire. It takes about that to fill a govy position.

Finally, remember you are your own person finally. If you try something and decide you hate it, you can leave. I know a lot of retired military who somehow forget that and stay in a job they hate as if it were a manditory tour. That having been said, don’t make job hopping a habit either. You’re not always going to love your civvy job any more than you always loved your militray assignments.

I’ll be happe to reply to any questions.

Another not quite retiree checking in. Spent 14 years in the AF. Got out because after making E-6, they pretty much expect you to be management. I’m more of a tech type.

I don’t regret getting out, because as I said, I like being a tech not management. There are aspects of it I still miss though (been out for 10 years now). The comraderie… knowing your all in the same boat. The work… back when I was actually a tech, I loved it (I was crypto maintenance). Serving your country.

One thing though. With your list of medical issues, you’ll probably get some disability. If you get rated at 50% or more, you can get all your medical taken care of at the VA. If your under 50%, then you can only get service related stuff taken care of by the VA. I imagine VA care varies by where you are, but here in Denver, I’ve had good experiences.

Oh, i understand that. As soon as I get settled in my new duty station I’ll probably start the ball rolling on what I want to do when I leave. With the exception of recruiting I’ve spent most of my time in my field.

Retired Seabee here after 23 years. While I learned a lot during my career, I’ve never looked back, nor do I miss it in the least. There’s a lot more money to be made in the real world, and a lot more personal freedom. I do have recurring dreams about being back in the military, however; they usually involve not being able to find my uniform or missing a movement flight - anxiety stuff. My only real regret about spending all those years in the military was the loss of earnings. I don’t hang out at the VFW, sopping up booze and whining about the good old days. I don’t belong to any ex-military organizations, parade about in uniform remnants on July 4th, or belong to a Vietnam Vets motorcycle gang. That’s all looking-back activity, and I just don’t believe in it.