Word about a plan to make drastic changes to the military retirement system reached me through the Coastie grapevine. The Army Times has the story:
A sweeping new plan to overhaul the Pentagon’s retirement system would give some benefits to all troops and phase out the 20-year cliff vesting system that has defined military careers for generations.
In a massive change that could affect today’s troops, the plan calls for a corporate-style benefits program that would contribute money to troops’ retirement savings account rather than the promise of a future monthly pension, according to a new proposal from an influential Pentagon advisory board.
All troops would receive the yearly retirement contributions, regardless of whether they stay for 20 years. Those contributions might amount to about 16.5 percent of a member’s annual pay and would be deposited into a mandatory version of the Thrift Savings Plan, the military’s existing 401(k)-style account that now does not include government matching contributions.
The military is a special case, folks. No other organization is constitutionally chartered with a mission that requires bloodshed, maiming, and death. The U.S. Military exists to kill people and break things. If there are any Americans who deserve a decent retirement, it’s those Americans who preserve our society’s very existence by living, working, fighting, bleeding, and dying in the nastiest crapholes of the world.
If the bean-counters in DC want to find savings in the retirement system, they can make their changes to the benefits offered to new enlistees, new warrant officers, and new commissioned officers. Changing the rules in mid-stream for career members who’ve volunteered to put their lives on the line is a textbook example of what I’d charitably call bovine excrement.
The Defense Business Board posted these slides on July 21st, summarizing their proposals to the Secretary of Defense.
Get a load of page 6, where you’ll read “Immediate payout after 20 years has no comparison in the private sector.” Gee, ya think? Here are some other things that have no comparison in the private sector … things which young Americans voluntarily sign their lives and rights away 3-5 years at a time to do on our behalf:
This is not some stupid reality show. This is full-on training for combat. This is extreme, but combat’s worse. These folks volunteered for this with the understanding that after twenty years of risk, they’d be rewarded with a small pension. They earn every damned cent of it.
The final, detailed recommendations are due out sometime later this month. Our troops won’t be screwed out of their retirement pay if your Congressman and Senators refuse to allow it.
What motivates a Congressman or a Senator? Voters. Get to dialing.