Strange Quirks in the Military Retirement System

When I go to the VA, they only want information about the three years I served on Active Duty.  The fact that I actually retired out of the National Guard as a Colonel and an additional 28 years is of no concern to them.  That seems strange to me but what do I know?

A couple of years ago, an old friend of mine turned 60 and the Naval Reserve searched his files and found that in spite of his many years of service, he never served on Active Duty for anything but training.    He therefor did not get any retirement pay.  He retired as a Chief Petty Officer and served for over 30 years and zip, nada, nothing in the way of retired pay.  It took me a while to work through the maze of regulations and misinformation to finally figure out why Dennis was treated in such a manner.  I can remember how proud he was to join the Navy Reserves when we were in High School.   Right after graduation (I assume he graduated) he left for his training.  That fall he returned to Wichita and attended meetings over several decades.  Now that he is no longer alive, he doesn't even qualify for a headstone.  Doesn't seem fair to me.

One big shortfall in the system is that people that retire in the Reserves don't get any retirement until they are 60.  All of the pay increases that happen in the mean time are applied and they are finally given a red retired ID card.  Between retirement and 60, they are given a Grey ID Card and this is what has resulted in being called a grey area retiree.  It is kind of like a certificate of eligibility for the things to come.  Once the retiree reached 60, his red ID card makes him one of the eligible and you are treated by the Active Military as one of their own. 

The other day, I was in the basement working on a hot water heater.  One of the two heaters installed when we built this house in 1990 started leaking.  We had it installed as one of two in line and it would pre-condition the cold tap water prior to going into the one that really heated the water.  We had to replace that one a few years back.  We did that because of the large whirlpool tub we had installed in the Master Bathroom.  That was a big waste.  Should have installed marble or granite on the kitchen counters with the extra money.  The short story I started this paragraph with was while moving a shelf to remove the heater, I discovered a cardboard box marked Archives.  It reduced my service to one normal box that held a dozen reams of paper.  I tried to keep all the records of my service in case a fire somewhere reduced my record to ash.  That happened to many people when there was a fire in St. Louis.

The point I was going to make out of the box of records I found, was the record of all the Military correspondence courses I had taken.  When I first started out, I was religious in making sure the courses were recorded.  I soon found out that once you reach the maximum of 60 point a year the courses were just for record, not retirement.  I held out for a time that they would change the regulation and add those points to my retirement.  Didn't happen.  I completed the Advanced Course, Prefix 5 and Command and General Staff College without it adding to anything but my promotion eligibility.  I have often described it as wetting your pants in a dark suit.  Gives you a warm feeling but no one else notices. 


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