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11 August 2011

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Ben


I have talked to many Soldiers, NCO's and fellow Officers and one of the big concerns is our contract. Every Soldier today signed a contract with the US Army with an agreement for a retirement at 20 years. If the government can make this change and turn around and tell the Soldiers to just deal with it, then what is next. What else will they change in our contract and then turn around and say we are the government deal with it, what's the point of the contract.

The proposal mentions several times a comparison between the Military and the Civilian work force. Well, show me a Civilian job in which the worker is gone training for up to 3 to 6 months total throughout the year and then when complete with training deploys for up to a year, not to mention during that year deployment there is a large group of people trying as hard as they can to kill you. Then God willing the member makes it home after the deployment, and 70% of the time must pack up his/her family and move them somewhere else. The constant PCS moves every two to three years for a Soldier is extremely hard on the family, the children must move schools and make new friends, the spouse must attempt to find a new job which in itself is difficult due to the employer knowing he or she will be leaving within two to three years. This type of constant movement for the Service member makes it almost impossible for a spouse to generate any type of retirement.

A Service member after 20 years of service is most of the time completely broken, they have bad knees, backs, ankles and hearing loss to mention a few. All of these problems are due to 20 years of dealing with Combat, explosions, shooting weapons, foot marches, jumping out of airplanes, and daily running and other physical activities. After a 20 year Service obligation the average 40 year old Soldiers body is worn down and more closely related to a 65 year old Civilian.

The proposal makes a statement that a Soldier E-1 thru E-4 under the new plan can make up to $20,000 if they invest 16.5% of their pay for four years. I have been a Company Commander for 33 months and I do not know one E-1 thru E-4 who can afford to deposit 16.5% of their pay and still be able to survive financially. The proposal also states that the old plan is unfair to all who do not retire because they receive nothing. Like I said earlier all Soldiers voluntarily sign a contract and understand what they are getting into. But, when it comes down to it, a Soldier receives many things, the Soldier receives to mention a few, discipline, an understanding of self worth, team work, equal opportunity training, sexual harassment training, job experience, respect from the community, credibility from civilian companies, and the military GI Bill for future education. Any person who joins the military and leaves under honorable conditions, leaves as a better person and will be a great contributor to the Civilian community and work force.

To say that anyone leaving the military before 20 years gets nothing is not only wrong but an uneducated statement. The US Service member is a Professional and the 20 year retirement is not just deserved but owed due to the contract we signed. A professional athlete provides entertainment to the public and they make millions, a Service member is a professional and provides protection and freedom to the public and we make pennies but we do not complain. If they take away our retirement they take away any incentive for the career Soldier to stay and they take away what all Service members have worked for, planned for, fought for, and many others have died for. Why would anyone join the Military as a Career when they can join a safer Civilian job with the same benefits? The US Armed Forces is 1% of the US population, I'm sure we can find, and save, several Trillion dollars if we tap into the other 99% who earned their freedom thru the Military's sacrifice.

Patrick Lang

Ben

With sadness in my heart I must say that I do not believe that you have a "contract" with the government.

The government is not legally bound to do anything for you and the bastards may well not. pl

JTCornpone

I don't know anything about a contract between the government and members of the military. There are lawyers around who are more qualified to comment although an opinion from one lawyer is like one-man arm wrestling.

I can say, however that despite the fact that the benefits book under which I worked for AT&T for 26 years said my dependents' health insurance would be covered in retirement, when it was cancelled after I retired much was made of the fact that there was no contract.

In fact the only contracts I have with them are 1) the contract I had to sign when I took a year's salary to retire in which I promised to never sue them ever for anything and 2) everything I ever invented belonged to them. Maybe the military is different or maybe not but with the private sector I know you are dealing with primo weasels.

JT

John Minnerath

As my Dad neared 30 years of service, he was informed that he could remain in uniform on active duty till age 65, at the "CONVENIENCE" of the government.
They don't guarantee the military anything.

The Twisted Genius

JT, there are no shortage of primo weasels in the military or the government at large, either. I know of no binding contracts covering retirement in the military. The only contracts I know of in the military are enlistment contracts which bind the enlistee to a set number of years. I don't think they bind the military to those same years. The only binding agreement common to all military is our oath to the Constitution.

Under Federal excepted civilian service, we also take an oath to the Constitution. Excepted service is similar to military service in that you must do what the government tells you to do, where the government wants you to do it. The big difference is that you can quit at any time as an excepted service civilian... unless you attend government paid schooling. Then you sign a binding agreement to serve a set length of time or pay a substantial sum for the provided schooling if you don't stay in the agreed upon length of time.

The one saving consolation is that our oath is to the Constitution and not to the primo weasels.

J Staud

Thanks Ben and Fred. Run for Pres and VP

Charles I

JT, I must protest your slur against the athletic abilities of lawyers. Although I am no longer one, I assure you any lawyer worth his salt could arm wrestle themselves to a win lose or draw upon suitable retainer.

Charles I

er, "their salt" I mean.

William R. Cumming

Ben unfortunately agree with PL on no contract. Also I think there is an unexpressed latent consensus that the wars of the late 20th Century had nothing to do with preservation of freedom and democracy in the USA. I could be wrong of course.

And by the way I disagree with that consensus even as to Viet Nam. But my reasoning is far to complex for comment here.
And yes despite 5 years of Nixon-Kissinger WAR in Viet Name I still blame the DEMS. Still looking for those friends and neighbors who selected me. The note signed (not personally) by LBJ of course another unaccountable President from TEXAS. I always liked the phrase "NO MAN SHOULD BE HIS OWN JUDGE"!

Patrick Lang

WRC et al

IMO the present generation of service members has a distorted understanding of the opinion of the government and their fellow citizens in regard to soldiers. All that "thank you for your service" crap over the past ten years has obscured the fact that many think that a good man should not be used to make a soldier any more than good iron should be used to make a nail, I believe that is a paraphrase from Sun-tzu the Chop Suey version of Clausewitz. pl

LeaNder

"Modifying the retirement system would create an effective force shaping tool"

The force shaping tool seems to contain an element of divide and conquer. Do they want to attract a more flexible younger force, more easily terminated contracts, in times of less military activity? Did people that served 5, 10 or 15 years before not build up any retirement benefits at all for their time as soldiers?

I would like to understand the prognosis on the charts on page 20, 21 and 24. Does the graph for Trust Fund Liability move down to almost zero by 2076 by being transferred to a private fund? Could we have another chart that contains the deductions on the money paid in for administration and profits? It seems to be a slight of hands to make the expenses disappear by moving them to the private sector.

LeaNder

"With sadness in my heart I must say that I do not believe that you have a "contract" with the government. "

Why? Can you explain?

LeaNder

I should read all comments before asking questions. TG already answered my question. Although, admittedly I am surprised.

Soldiers should be made more aware of it, especially the younger the "force shapers" seem to want to attact.

Patrick Lang

LeaNder

Members of the US armed forces do not have contracts with the government. You take the oath and are bound by it until released. the obligations are all on the soldier or officer's side. The government feeds and pays you and gives you medical treatment at its convenience because you are their "property" while in service. If they paid you nothing you would still be bound by your oath. American soldiers are not really employees. they are certainllty not contract wmployees. Enlisted soldiers sign papers obligating them to service for some period of time. they may do that in return for a government undertaking to pay them a bonus for enllistment. these are not contracts and if the government wishes it violates thes agreements especially with regard to specialty trainin or unit of assignment. pl

Cold War Zoomie

"Mission comes first."

"Needs of the service."

Those were always the bottom line phrases I remember. Everything else we got was secondary, at least on paper.

Fred

The CBS morning show was to have something on this today, couldn't see it since I had to leave for the commute. Looks like the train's left the station on this railroad. Socical Security's move to Wall Street can't be far behind.

http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2011/08/15/eveningnews/main20092652.shtml?tag=contentMain;contentBody

"... if you want to maintain the core mission which is to defend the nation and have the strategic capabilities we need, we can't have all their money tied up in retirement programs."

The citizens who actually defend the country are obviosly not as important as defense contractors' bottom line or executive compensation plans. If we need to have all this 'capability' why aren't we will to tax this, rather than have a 'soldier's tax' i.e. gut thier pensions?

gclub

Great post! It saws strong argument to refer to the open innovation movement in government. This explanation would require far fewer friends outside this arena and is generally well accepted

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