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MILITARY: Philpott column needs clarifying

Letter by Thomas A. Henderson II, Lacey on Aug. 1, 2011 at 2:06 pm with No Comments »
August 1, 2011 2:42 pm

Re: “Military compensation curbs are tough sell” (TNT, 7-30).

After reading Tom Philpott’s column for a couple of years, it appears to me that he tries to keep out of the political shenanigans and simply report what he sees and hears. Having said that, he made an egregious error by omitting important information from this column.

The column speaks to military service members being able to retire after 20 years on active duty (which is true). Near the end of the column he quotes the Defense Business Board’s remark that “military retirement benefit equates to 75 percent of annual pay per year for those who retire.”

After reading the article, an uninformed civilian might think that after 20 years, retired service members get paid 75 percent of their active duty income for life. Nothing could be further from the truth. A couple of qualifications should clear things up:

• Military retired pay (which is really deferred compensation) is based on a service member’s active duty base pay, not on his or her entire active duty compensation.

• To be entitled to 75 percent, a service member must be on active duty for 30 years. At 20 years the number is 50 percent. After 20 years, my retired pay is less than one third what I was paid on active duty.

If the Defense Business Board thinks that is a sweetheart deal then so be it, but let them do what I did for 20 years and then see how they feel about it.

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