How big a deal is retirement from the army?

A friend of my wife recently retired from the military as a mid-level officer after a couple of decades of non-combatant service, with the intention of resuming the exact same duties (in the exact same facility) as a civilian employee. This person invited us to the retirement ceremony, but it was several states away, and we made up some excuse not to attend.

How big a deal was that? I’ve been to several retirement parties for colleagues where I work, but never a full-blown ceremony. It seemed like even less of a big deal to us, given that retirement was to be followed by resumption of the exact same job.

Have we committed some grave offense against military tradition, or was this just another invitation to what was ultimately just another retirement part (despite the “ceremony” moniker)?

The Browns are huge on military service - every male in the family except my brother and I have done a stint. When my cousin finished his 20 last year and we got the invite, every single one said “don’t bother” as far as attending the ceremony - only his mother went. All of us went to the barbecue the next day, some of us traveling hundreds of miles.

My dad is an army retiree.

It’s much like any other job. If he did his four years and got out, no big deal. If he was a career officer for 30 years, bigger deal. If he was a low-level schlub, no big deal. If he was a Flag officer, big deal.

It sounds like he wasn’t either extreme, and given that he’s going back to the same job afterwards, this strikes me as no big deal. When my dad retired I think he just invited his buddies to go bowling afterwards. There was a ceremony but who cares? I think your friend might have an inflated opinion of himself.

What rank was this person? In my experience in the Coast Guard, the higher the rank, the bigger the deal. “several states” away could involve some travelling and other expenses and the OP doesn’t say just how good of a friend of his wife the military member was. But believe me, military members take quite seriously getting the “20 year letter” entitling them to a pension. A lot of them treat it as quite a big event.

We had one retirement ceremony once where a CWO4 and a Captain were retiring. Full shindig, service dress blue uniforms, etc. One of the customs is for the commanding officer to ask the person retiring if the crew can have liberty (i.e. the rest of the day off). So he asked the CWO4 if he wanted to grant liberty (not sure if it is custom to ask the lower ranking person first). This CWO4 was pissed that after 30 years he was being forced to retire and he made no bones about the fact that he felt he was a victim of discrimination because of age. so he refused to grant liberty. So the Captain went to the microphone and announced he would grant liberty.

I’d assume he was a Lt. Col. or an 05 in rank. It’s not that big of a deal. If he were a two, three or four star yeah it becomes a bigger deal but for the ranks I mentioned he’d likely only expect only a few non-work related attendees.

I retired in Germany, it was just the people I worked with a few friends in Germany. I invited all my family but didn’t expect any of them to come … really not that big of a deal.

Grats on the job though … we’ve just come under a hiring freeze here.

Lieutenant-Colonel (army).

Yeah, it would have involved driving a round trip of about 1000 miles, and probably a couple of days of vacation time. The retiree visits us a couple of times a year as it is (during business trips to our town) and in fact had visited us just a couple of weeks before the ceremony; we didn’t feel a need to get together again so soon.

Not US Army or US period, so I hope the OP does not mind, but my dad was a General officer and it was a bloody big deal. There was a ceremony with entire family invited, he has a dinner at his old regiment and went to visit his old commands. But then he had been in for 33 years.

Yeah, GO retirements are much bigger deal. Forgive my ignorance AK, are you British by any chance? You’re Army is full of awesome customs and the like :wink:

Whether it’s a “big deal” is up to the person retiring.

For some people, it’s a major change of life, life style, and emotionally a milestone (like a wedding). I’ve seen dudes get all teary eyed at their own ceremonies.

For other people, they don’t even want an official ceremony, just the pension. (They might throw a backyard BBQ.)

You know the person in question a lot better than us, I assume.

Pakistani. Our Army has lots of British traditions though, as it was once part of the British Indian Army.

That’s awesome AK … What was your dads ceremony like?

I’ll look for the links later (on a phone) but the Germans did a really cool torchlit ceremony for Lt. Gen. Mark Hertling when he left USAREUR. I’ve been around retirement ceremonies for a long time but even I was like, wow!

A possible reason for senior retirements being a big deal is the potential overlap between the retirement of a flag officer and the associated change in command.

At least in the US, the three and four star grades (O-9, O-10) are linked to certain jobs. Basically, what happens at some point is the flag officer hits a certain age, or doesn’t get extended or appointed to a new gig. Retirement ensues.

On the other hand, there is a new person coming in at the same grade, or via promotion to the relevant grade (for the job).

You can do as little or as much as you want, basically. When I retired as a CPO, I had been working in civilian clothes for four years with the State Department. My boss asked me if I wanted a full dress retirement ceremony with all the fanfare and nonsense. I declined.

My old man retired from the US Army in 1999 as a major general after 36 years of service in the Corps of Engineers. His retirement ceremony at Fort Meyer was a pretty big deal…the Old Guard, the Drum and Fife Corps in full Revolutionary War regalia, lots of marching, howitzers firing, etc…it was very similar to this video in scope, although we didn’t have that awning!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3oMUUVDeSFw