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MILITARY: Retirement benefits are quite generous

Letter by Lawrence H. Smith, University Place on Aug. 18, 2011 at 10:58 am with 24 Comments »
August 18, 2011 12:08 pm

There have been a few letters recently discussing retirement pay and other benefits for military retirees. Some of those retirees appear to by unhappy with their benefits, but from my point of view, the military retirement package is quite generous.

For example, I just noticed that the current rate on the government’s 30-year bond is 3.42 percent. Based on this interest rate and my living another 25 years (which is quite likely in my case), my current after-tax monthly check has a present value more than $600,000. That is, if the government wanted to “cash out” my retirement, it would have to give me more than $600,000 tax-free to make the projected monthly payments equal the single lump sum.

The other benefits are also significant. I participate in Tricare Prime, which cost me currently $460 per year for health care benefits for my wife and myself. Most couples outside the military system would be thrilled to have such a low yearly premium.

I also save money by shopping at the local military commissary. I estimate this benefit saves me at least $20 per week. The military exchanges save me money both on merchandise cost and sales tax.

Perhaps my fellow military retirees should take a good look at the benefits they enjoy before they complain about them. Other folks, not even government retirees, have nothing close to the benefits we military retirees enjoy.

Yes, the armed forces can be a tough career, but retirees are well-compensated, on average, for their service.

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Leave a comment Comments → 24
  1. Lawrence – I notice you don’t tell us the rank you retired at. As you well know, the higher the rank, the less people you have because you don’t need 1000 officers to direct 1000 enlisted. If you attained an officer’s statis, good for you, but that doesn’t mean that every retiree gets the same. An enlisted or non-com might not enjoy your luxuries.

  2. Lawrence…btw…it’s a shame that anyone has to pay for good health in our country.

  3. BlaineCGarver says:

    Kardnos, yes….I favor a single payer plan, and ZERO insurance companies. Having said that, I can assure that my E6 retired pay is a nice addition, but one could never have actually retired on it. I do not regret my 20 years service, but I become annoyed when “they” hedge on the promises they made. I was always promised free dental and health care as lone as I lived, and well that went out the window. Thanks, VA, for picking up the Army’s slack…(and I still have no dental care)

  4. spotted1 says:

    KARDNOS, no one in this country has to pay for good health. They pay for the coverage of the treatment when they have trashed their bodies. Injuries aside, they are treating obesity related issues, smoking related issues, stress related, etc.

    But yes, the benefits the military receives are above the average persons benefits. Not to mention, most can do 20 years, retire and go on to a second career, thus receiving two retirements in effect rather than just one.

  5. Spotted…..many people have genetic conditions. Not everything is choice related.

  6. Wow you make that retirement sound like so much. But when I look at the actual monthly amount, it’s nice but it’s not that much. $2000 a month on average for the next 25 years, you better follow a really good budget.

  7. Not many “retirement” systems say hey if we need you again we can ask you to come back and you can not refuse.

  8. no one in this country has to pay for good health. They pay for the coverage of the treatment when they have trashed their bodies. Injuries aside, they are treating obesity related issues, smoking related issues, stress related, etc.

    Wow…..do you really believe that bad health is totally due to bad habits?

  9. Here’s an interesting question. Who serves the country better…those in the military or those on “the hill” in DC? Who gets the greater benefits?

  10. Nice question sozo. I’ll answer it – the military serves the country better. I don’t think military people in general complain about their benefits. What they complain about is Congress (primarily Democrats) who want to cut their benefits when they were promised them years ago. Most of the time grandfathering takes place but not always. Overall, the retirement benefits are generous but I think they should be if you are going to put your life on the line and go to places like beautiful Afghanistan every other year. Remember, the military is taking applications. All of you can sign up any time you want.

    BB – Bad health is not “totally” due to bad habits but it is a MAJOR factor in so many cancers, heart problems, diseases that the statement by spotted1 is not far off the mark. I would include lack of exercise, poor diet, drug and alcohol abuse. Many of these things affect our immune system and make us more susceptible to disease.

  11. Chile74,
    For the past decade it’s been the Dems who have supported military benefits, and the Rpots who have been trying to cut or eliminate them.

  12. itwasntmethistime says:

    Not many retirements systems kick in after just 20 years and are guaranteed for life. If you can’t make it on half your pay, you should either stick it out longer than the minimum 20 years or plan on getting a civilian job after retirement. That’s not unreasonable, since most people who retire after the minimum 20 years are only around 40 years old.

  13. BlaineCGarver says:

    Itwasntmethistime, the Military is crowed at the top and most are not allowed to stay past 20, and it’s mostly not their fault.

  14. Xring – Would you like to show me some facts to back up your statement about Dems primarily supporting military benefits? The military received large pay raises and new bonuses under Bush (2000-2008) and a Republican Congress (1994 through 2006). By the way, Clinton offered a three year pay raise in 1993 of 0-0-0 (Army Times 1993).

  15. chile,
    It was under Bush2 that:

    Head Trauma Center at Walter Reed closed for budgetary reasons.

    Guard and Reserve Members wounded on active duty were transferred off active duty so the Services would not have to pay benefits till the individuals were 65.

    The Army started forcing soldiers (or their estates) to pay back re-enlistment bonuses if the solder could not complete their tour of duty.

    R’s oppose the New GI Bill.

    Presidents don’t raise taxes or federal pay, a minor point of civics unknown by the rpot conservacons.
    1993 – Base pay for an E-1 = $753
    1995 – Base pay for an E-1 = $770
    1995 – Base pay for an E-1 = $790
    1996 – Base pay for an E-1 = $809

  16. itwasntmethistime, the vast majority who retire at 20 do go on to get civilian jobs. Many see that as wrong too.

  17. xring- Base pay, combat pay, overseas pay, free medical care, free eats, great clean outdoor living, war (not video) games, free ammunition, free clothing, free medical care, guaranteed free burial plot all for $212/month (1970).

    Living to an old age- priceless! :)

  18. X-ring………Head trauma center moved – it didn’t go away and they just closed Walter Reed Army Medical Center – proves nothing.

    Guard and Reserve members are evaluated by military physicians not politicians. That has been going on forever.

    I think soldiers should pay back their reenlistment bonus just like physicians should pay back their scholarship money if they do no fulfill their committment.

    R’s supported the GI Bill when it came up for a vote.

    The Republicans did not let Clinton’s 0-0-0 go into affect. (I will give credit to Ike Skelton, D for supporting the military too) Pay raises don’t effect E-1’s or 0-1’s very much. Why don’t you quote E-7 and 0-5. Then you will see large raises by Republican Congress’ and supported by Bush 1, Bush 2 and Reagan. The President has to sign the Defense Budget. I’ll ignore your snide comment and your ignorance of the military.

  19. Dave98373 says:

    “Guard and Reserve Members wounded on active duty were transferred off active duty so the Services would not have to pay benefits till the individuals were 65.”

    Another xring lie. Guard and Reserve members who complete 20 years of satisfactory service get a retirement pay at 60, not 65. Members also receive many benefits prior to that. Additionally, members who are called to active duty get credit month for month to draw that pay even earlier (as early as 50). This policy was created under the Bush administration. Wounded Guard and Reservists get benefits for their injuries as well as monthly disability payment benefits through the VA.
    Please gather your facts prior to you jumping aboard your soapbox.

  20. X-ring – I might add – who is now trying to cut the defense budget? – Dems. Who wanted a peace dividend in the early 90’s as the military drew down? – Dems

  21. alindasue says:

    chile74 said, “X-ring – I might add – who is now trying to cut the defense budget? – Dems. Who wanted a peace dividend in the early 90’s as the military drew down? – Dems”

    One can cut the defense budget considerably without cutting the soldiers’ pay. It’s all a matter of priorities: spending on the soldiers instead of ordering newer and badder jets, subs, and bombs.

    Murigen said, “itwasntmethistime, the vast majority who retire at 20 do go on to get civilian jobs. Many see that as wrong too.”

    I have a close friend whose husband retired from the army after more than 20 years of service. Both of them work because neither is quite old enough for Social Security and his military retirement alone is not enough to live on.

    spotted1 said, “KARDNOS, no one in this country has to pay for good health. They pay for the coverage of the treatment when they have trashed their bodies. Injuries aside, they are treating obesity related issues, smoking related issues, stress related, etc.”

    Injuries aside, other medical expenses not directly related to lifestyle include (but are not limited to) bacterial infections, viruses, some cancers, lupus, degenerative diseases like MS, and congenital heart defects. Not everyone who gets sick has “trashed” his body.

    Many problems could be prevented – or at least be caught early – if medical coverage were easier to obtain. In times like this when unemployment is high and lay-offs end medical coverage, a single payer national health care seems more and more appealing.

  22. SandHills says:

    Lawrence, if you think the BX (or even a commissary if you have to drive distance to get to one) is a benefit then you are badly overstating your case. Sure, a senior officer or even NCO who has a 25-30 year carreer might even approach the definition of “lucrative” – but rank and file 20 year retirees can’t truly expect to fully live off their military retirement. I agree that Tricare is the best benefit of a military retiree. This is the biggest target for reductions sought in military retiree benefits, but it is only indicative of all medical coverage costs with an aging baby-boomer generation and ever higher medical charges – just look at how medicaid and social security disability is sinking fast.

    But promises to military members must be kept, or else all the positive attention to military service – especially in the last several years – is merely lip service from those whose self-gratifying lives have no clue of what trues service to country means.

  23. cmangosing says:

    “no one in this country has to pay for good health. They pay for the coverage of the treatment when they have trashed their bodies. Injuries aside, they are treating obesity related issues, smoking related issues, stress related, etc.”

    Are you actually BLAMING people if their health is bad? People are people all over the world. There are smokers and all types of things. Are you just blaming the military people, or are you blaming everyone for their own illnesses? Isn’t idealology a beautiful thing?

    You can’t really compare military retirement to any other type of retirement. The average person who retires from the service practically has to start his life over again. I own a house now. Bought it when I was 45. If I hadn’t spent all that time running around the world instead of setting up a foundation somewhere, I would probably have one paid off by now and whatever my retirement was from whatever place it came from, it would be used much differently.

  24. My base pay started at $98 a month – before taxes and the required saving bond.

    Eight and half years later I left active due as a Fist Lieutenant.

    So you huckleberries are not fit to shine by boots, let alone lecture me about how the military works.

    So let your fingers do your talking and cite reference to disprove me.

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