A group of Army O-3s will finally be paid the pensions they’ve earned. However, their story is also a cautionary example of why you should be saving and investing for financial independence.
Well, sure, the press release doesn’t specifically mention The-Military-Guide.com. It doesn’t mention the New York Times journalist or the Congressional inquiries or the Armed Services Committee discussions either. But that started here through e-mails with servicemembers and spouses just like many of you readers.
In early 2014 the Army conducted an “Officer Separation Board”. (The first lesson learned from the exercise was that they should call them “Officer Retention Boards”.) Several of the selected officers sent me e-mails and “Contact me” queries. Some officers (commissioned from enlisted rank) were told that they’d have to revert to enlisted rank and lose over a third of their pensions. Others were being separated just short of their eligibility for the 15-year early-retirement program. A few were already over 18 years of service but thought they were threatened with early retirement instead of a 20-year pension guaranteed by federal law. I asked a couple of other military bloggers for help (thanks Rob, Ryan, and Kate!) researched the Title 10 U.S. Code that applies to most military retirements, figured out the issues, and wrote the post.
A few months later the statistics from the OSB were leaked along with the slides of a presentation that had been given to the Army Chief of Staff. (The slides keep disappearing from the Army’s websites, so I’ve loaded a PDF copy of the presentation on The-Military-Guide.com at this link.) When that post went live, I heard from a few more officers. Along with their financial and career options, we also discussed writing letters to their elected representatives and going to the media.
Shortly after that, the media got interested: Dave Philipps of the NYT contacted me to interview the officers. I e-mailed several introductions and he wrote his article. Some of the officers had already written their elected representatives, and Dave’s article inspired a few more Congressional inquiries. A month later the Army announced that officers would keep their officer pensions and that others would be extended to retirement eligibility. Ironically Mr. Philipps’ followup article ran in the NYT’s “Politics” section.
It’s nice to see the Army (finally) do the right thing. I wonder, though, if it would have happened without those officers asking me to write about it. As nice as it is to see the good guys win one, I just wish we didn’t have to keep telling the authorities who their good guys are.
By the way, we get retirement and other financial questions here every week. When we help someone figure out their entitlements (or learn how to pursue them) then we share the information here for everyone’s benefit. I’ve been retired for over 12 years and I’ve finally had the time to read all of those manuals and instructions that I wish I’d read on active duty. If we can’t figure out the answer to your question, we know who to ask.
After four years of writing, I’ve developed a few media contacts. (Thanks again, Mr. Philipps!) If a spotlight needs to be directed toward a problem, we’re happy to get the media’s attention.
Please help us educate more servicemembers, veterans, and families: share this site with your friends! You can subscribe to the posts through an RSS feed, follow the site on Facebook and Twitter, or send your question through the anonymous and private “Contact me” link. If you’re still concerned about privacy then e-mail me: NordsNords at Gmail. Your questions help me learn more about the answers, and together we can help everyone reach their financial independence.