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I read with more interest than usual the Aug. 17 article “Budget cuts may force end to 20-year retirement rule” (on stripes.com as “Could 20-year retirement be a casualty of the budget fight?”). Allow me to point out what should be obvious to anyone who has ever worked in the civilian world and also put on a uniform: In the article, Todd Harrison [a fellow for defense studies at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments] stated that “there are few private companies that offer a pension plan as generous as the military’s retirement plan.” There is a reason for this. There are very few companies, if any, that require as much from servicemembers as the military does, particularly in the last 10 years.

When we are home, our workday typically starts at 0630 and ends anywhere between 1700 and 2100, albeit with time given for breakfast and lunch, depending on mission requirements. We work nights and weekends. We work holidays. We work 24-hour shifts, all without any additional monetary compensation.

We are on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week. We are sent away from our families for training that can last anywhere from a few days to a few months. We are required to meet physical standards for fitness, weight and body fat percentage. While deployed, we work 12-hour shifts and have one day off every two weeks if we are lucky. We see our families for two weeks out of a 12-month deployment. We run the risk of injury or death at random times, on or off the forward operating base.

The bottom line is, the reason why we have the retirement plan that we have is because we earn it.

Staff Sgt. Christopher Tillman

Kandahar, Afghanistan


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