Retiring? Be Ready for Uncle Sam to Dump Your Stuff

At some point in the future, three different moving vans will show up at my house delivering 16,000 pounds of household goods that are currently in storage in Virginia, Massachusetts and Kansas.

I dread that day. My 14-year-old put it pretty aptly when he said, “It’ll be like Christmas, but with a ton of crap.”

Leaving the Military? Take a Paid Vacation First

Guess what? There is a huge retirement benefit out there that I will bet many of you didn’t even know you had.


Careful handling of leave days in the last couple of years before retirement or separation can put you in a position to have paid time off right before you retire. Potentially, months of it.

Upon retirement, every service member is granted what’s called “terminal leave.” Previous to my husband putting in his paperwork late last year, I thought terminal leave was free – meaning it didn’t count against your leave days and was automatically granted.

Retirement Means Letting Go, In More Ways Than One

I am alone in my house right now, a rare thing these days.

The kids are out of school and my husband switched out of his job last month to focus on retirement and out-processing, so he only goes into work for a short time each day.

Which means I went from spending most of my time alone to having three other people in the house, almost constantly.

I love my quiet time. I love being alone. I don’t even mind going out for lunch by myself, or shopping by myself or taking a long road trip with no other company but my iTunes playlists.

Retirement Bliss Awaits, Be Aware of the Unexpected Reality Checks

The retirement process can be a tricky one, between all the paperwork, figuring out your finances, looking for a job and finding a place to live.

Most of the basic information is covered in the transition briefs that service members are required to attend, and, with a little digging, other basic facts can be found on the internet.

Follow the Papertrail to Retirement

As my husband gets closer and closer to his retirement date, and with our pack-out date looming just a little more than a month away, we have been going through and sorting all of our paperwork.

Mountains and mountains of paperwork.

While we casually go through things each time we move and get rid of things like utility bills and the newcomer’s packet we received upon arrival at our current duty station, we have never gone through everything this thoroughly.

Retirement Looms, But I am a Spouse for Life

Slowly, over the past few months, I have begun to pull away from my military life.

I’ve volunteered less, stopped being one of the first to step up and offer help, and my usual quick responses to spouse-related emails have gotten fewer and farther between.

Now, with less than three months left before we leave Germany and go on terminal leave until retirement, I find myself latching on to those last few military events I will get to attend.

About Face: When is it Time to Retire?

Many of us have asked ourselves that question for years. Do we (I say “we” meaning the active-duty member and the spouse, since it is a joint decision) leave at 20 years? Stay in for 25? Retire after three years at the highest rank?

Or just forget about retirement altogether and leave the military after five years, or 10?

About Face: Preparing for Military Retirement The First Decision: Where to Live?

Transitioning out of active-duty service brings with it a myriad of challenges, whether you’ve been in the military – or married to it – for two years or twenty years.

The questions are endless, but the two biggest ones are these:

Where we will live?

How will we support ourselves?

My husband is retiring in August after 26 years of active duty. While we had talked many times about what we would do when that day comes, we really only started thinking seriously about it a little over a year ago.

The Long Wait After the Job Interview

When my husband retired from the Army, we both hit the job hunt trail.

We each fired resumes to dozens of employers and within weeks had several interviews scheduled.

After my interview at the job that was number one on my wish list, I waited about 48 hours before I received the, “you got it” phone call.

My husband’s first choice job? He waited a week. Then, 10 days. So he emailed the recruiter to see if there was anything else he could provide to help the process.

No, the recruiter assured him. You would be hearing from them within the week.

Retirement Chronicles : Your Benefits are Changing

Military retirement pay is changing.

This week President Obama sent a letter to congressional leaders signaling support for the 15 recommendations drafted by the Military Compensation and Retirement Modernization Commission in January.

While the president didn't specifically endorse the changes, change is coming.

Overall, the recommendations would drop military retirement pay by about 20 percent. To close the gap, troops will be offered a traditional retirement account.


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