Retired Military Etiquette

When there is a group of retired Military personnel answering questions about let’s say, the Iraqi situation, how are they addressed by the other retired Military members? General? Mr? Hey You?

I’ve generally seen them continue to use the titles in formal situations - you become Colonel Joe Blow, United States Air Force, Retired. No clue how official that is, though, if there is an official rule set for retired officers.

From my experience, what Zagadka says is correct. In non-formal situations, it’s up to the individual as to what they prefer to be called. I’ve never seen anyone under the General/Admiral level who has made it a point to keep his title. And for those who are retired Generals/Admirals, I’ve never seen anyone, other than equals, call them by anything other than “sir” or their rank, retired or not.

I once attended a summer camp, where a non-counselor instructor was retired army. He signed end-of-season yearbooks as “Lt. Col. <name> (ret.)”.

(Us campers figured he got his officer’s commission during the Civil War.)

My dad is a retired Lt. Col. who has gone on to continue a career teaching. He has taught both ROTC and other courses such business and quantitative analysis.

In the ROTC setting, he is always referred to as Lt. Col. but in his other classes the title is dropped.

It is proper to continue to address retired military by their rank, however not necessary. It depends mostly on the situation. In the one you outlined above, where they are being consulted for their military expertise, it would be advisable to refer to them by rank. If they were serving you your slurpee at the local 7-11, then ‘Hey you’ would do just fine.

When an military member retires, he keeps his rank and adds the designation of (ret) in his written title. When they are addressed verbally, they are called Sir by anyone junior in rank to them, Chief, in the case of a Chief Master Sergeant (for Air Force ranks) I assume the same is true of equivalent ranks in other branches. If a senior member is addressing a junior retired member, I would assume he’d be called by rank and last name. As in if Gen Smith (ret) were addressing Colonel Jones (ret). Gen Smith would call Col Jones, Colonel Jones, Colonel Jones would call Gen Smith “sir”. I’m a civilian working for the DoD, I call them ALL sir!

I have a cousin who retired in '91-'92, and everyone in the family addresses him as Colonel. But this probably has more to do with the fact that he shares his name with his father and his son than anything else. Calling a 50+ year old man Junior just doesn’t cut it.

This isn’t necessarily true. If a retiree introduces himself by first name, you can call him by that (although I wouldn’t recommend this for General Officers). I see it all the time and I do it with a retired O-6 all the time and have done it with other retired O-5/O-4’s. Also, a senior active duty officer addressing a junior retiree would most likely use the person’s first name, just as if the retiree was active duty.

It should be noted that one has to serve at least twenty years to get the retired status. Some guy who served six years wouldn’t be called “Lt. Jones, ret.”