Military Retirement Journal – 1 Year from Retirement and Counting…

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So, today is Monday, May 2.  As of yesterday, I officially have one year until my planned retirement ceremony.  With that said, I wanted to update you on two significant events since my last retirement journal entry.

So, I went in for ringing in my ears, and came out with a broken nose….

Let me explain.  As I’ve always advised people, I’m trying to take care of my retirement appointments as early as possible.  So, one of the items on my checklist was the “ringing in my ears” appointment, if nothing more than to document it for my record.  It’s legitimate, and I’ve had it for most of my career, primarily due to my time on sea duty, working in engineering spaces & on flight decks.

Even with double hearing protection (as required during air operations), I’ve never met any flight deck personnel without hearing issues.  I had scheduled an appointment with my PCM several months ago, and she referred me to an Ear/Nose/Throat (ENT) doctor out in town.  So, a couple weeks ago, I went in for my scheduled interview.  Frankly, I wasn’t expecting a whole lot.  My tinnitus isn’t overly invasive (keeps me up at night when there’s no other noise to distract me), and everyone knows that you can’t do anything about it, right?  Well, I still wanted to check the box that I did my due diligence.

The first part of my appointment was the hearing test.  I hadn’t had a hearing test since I joined the Navy, so I figured I was due.  That went fine…turns out I’m okay in that department.  I went in to see the doctor for the typical exam.  During the exam, he took his scope and looked in my nose…fine.  Then, he took these reverse tweezers, opened my nostrils, and asked me to breathe in.  He did this on each side, left first, then right.  When he did it to my right side, he asked me if it made a difference.  It felt like a wind tunnel compared to when I breathe normally.  I told him so, and he said, “Uh-huh,” then jotted some notes down.  After a moment, when it was clear he wasn’t tipping his hand, I asked him, “So, what does that mean?”  He said, “Oh.  You have a deviated septum.”  When he noted my puzzled look, he explained further:  “You have a broken nose that never was treated.”

Wow.  Even though Tania has always told me that I look like I have a broken nose, I never really knew it.  I still don’t know how it happened (although when I was stationed in Camp Lejeune 20+ years ago, I ended up in a few bar fights…).  After that, we sat down, discussed how this might be interrupting my sleep (since I do have problems sleeping sometimes), and talked about the way forward (CT scan, sleep exam to see whether my sleeping problems are attributable to the deviated septum, and eventual surgery).  We also talked about tinnitus, which apparently can be controllable when you manage medication, diet, caffeine & alcohol intake, and stress.  Added bonus—I got some advice on a condition that I thought I had no control over.  Also, I have a year to schedule all of this stuff and get it done while I’m still on active duty—the way it’s supposed to be.

Bottom line Get Everything Taken Care of; Document Everything

If you have something that has been nagging at you, get it taken care of while on active duty, even if you think there’s nothing you can do about it (like tinnitus).  Not only do you get it addressed, but you might uncover something that you never knew as affecting you.  Also, doing it on active duty means that you don’t have to address it while managing your new, post-military life.

You also want to have everything documented in the event you ever make a disability claim with the VA. This can be a long process and you want to make it as easy as possible for both yourself and the VA.

Having your medical issues documented can mean the difference between receiving VA disability compensation or having your claim denied. This can have a substantial impact on your retirement benefits, make you eligible for VA health care, or open the door to additional benefits, even if you don’t make it to retirement.

SBA ‘Boots to Business’ Workshop

This brings us to the second development.  I had found out about the SBA’s program, “Boots to Business,” through the local Airman & Family Readiness Center (AFRC) on MacDill AFB during my pre-Transition GPS (the program formerly known as TAP).  Boots to Business is actually a two-part program.  First is the two-day Introduction to Entrepreneurship course, which is what I attended.

The second part, which I might take in the near future, is an eight-week online entrepreneurship course instructed by a group of professors and practitioners, led by the Institute for Veterans and Military Families at Syracuse University.  For this article, everything I discuss refers to the two-day introduction course, which I had signed up for through the AFRC several months ago, and was able to attend last week.  I’ll tell you right now, if you’re interested in starting your own business, company, or franchise, or might be interested in doing so at some point, this class is completely worth it!

How the class works:  The class is a combination of lecture material and networking opportunity.  I don’t completely understand who is involved in the program, but I’ll lay out some of the basics:

  • Lecture material: Assembled by the Institute for Veterans and Military Families, with sponsorship from Syracuse University, the lecture material consists of various courses on just about everything to do with business ownership, to include franchising, financing, legal aspects, accounting, operations, marketing, and a lot more.  Although the classes are interesting, they’re not the best part.
  • Instructors: All of the instructors are SCORE mentors.  Let me take a step back and explain what SCORE is.  SCORE is a nonprofit organization dedicated to help small businesses succeed.  SCORE has 320 chapters and 11,000 volunteers who volunteer over 1 million hours per year to help small business owners succeed.  That is their only mission—to help small businesses thrive.  The local instructors have all failed and succeeded in a variety of small business ventures, and all of them volunteer their time to teach the class and to conduct one-on-one mentoring.

So, the best part isn’t going to the class to learn.  If you’ve taken business courses or gotten an MBA, there probably isn’t a whole lot that they’re going to teach you.  The best takeaway is the networking opportunity.  Being able to talk with 20 or 25 people who are transitioning at the same time as you, as well as each of the instructors—that is definitely a great chance to form relationships with people who can help you form your business and get you going in the right direction.  Not only can you develop good connections, but each of our instructors offered to do free one-on-one mentoring…even one of the instructors who does business coaching for a fee.


So to close, I learned a couple of things just by taking the time to do a couple of things that most people might think to blow off.  First, get everything checked out, medically.  Every.  Single.  Thing.  Second, find out what your AFRC, Fleet & Family Support Center, or counterpart offers.  For example, ours also offers a LinkedIn class, which includes free professional photos for your LinkedIn profile, which is worth it just for that.  Find out what your local center offers and take the time to follow each of the opportunities.

Forrest Baumhover is a Certified Financial Planner™ and financial planner with Lawrence Financial Planning, a fee-only financial services firm. As a retired naval officer, Forrest helps veterans, transitioning servicemembers and their families address the financial challenges of post-military life so they can achieve financial independence and spend more time doing the things they love.

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