Knowing how to prepare for military retirement, and being ready once that fateful day comes are two completely different things. Since you are retiring from the military the assumption is made that you were a career soldier, no matter what branch of the military, rank or pay grade. And being subject to strict and stringent codes of life, both on and off the base, since you were representing your country whether that uniform was on or off, you most likely are dreading the day that you are no longer living under a structured lifestyle.
When the excitement of daily intrigue, battle assignments and information gathering and deciphering, front-line engagement or daily life upon a carrier, submarine or airplane is set aside for retirement, the adrenaline and the camaraderie will be irreplaceable. The feelings of being tossed aside by a nation that you spent your life defending, at a much lower pay grade than the business networks could have provided you with will increase with each passing day of retirement. Or, at least that’s what my father, a 28-year Hercules, and 6-year Lancaster pilot went through.
Another side of retirement is financial, and as long as you paid into the military retirement funds, and maybe had another retirement portfolio with the branch of your banking institution, whether it be a co-op (a favourite of military types) or local bank. Simply putting away 5% of your pay checks can result in a very comfortable retirement, especially if you get a decent retirement pension from the military. Of course, if you retire early enough, you can start another career, and top your pension up with a regular salary.
From your first day of military life, or at least once you realize that this is your life’s calling, you should arrange to meet with payroll officers in order to have the proper amount of deductions taken from your pay checks. It may not seem right at first, but the money that you put away while serving will make your life much more comfortable when you finally do retire.
One of the biggest bits of advice for career military personnel is to buy a private home off of the base nearest to where you serve, in a growing and well serviced community. As long as your home increases somewhat in price during the time that you live there, you will have that much more money for your retirement, if you wish to move. Or, you can have a retirement with no more mortgage payments, no rental fees, and, with some good renovations, minimal service costs.
If you sell your home and move, make sure that the home that you are buying into for your retirement suits your present and future needs, including deteriorating health. If possible, try to find a job that you would love to do, that has a basis in what you did for your career in the military. A pilot can go into air traffic control, and repair technicians will have no problems finding high-paying, managerial positions.
When preparing to retire from the military, it is very important to find a hobby, or two or three, that will keep your mind and body active. The old stand-bye of golf is always there, but you have time on your hands, so why not try something that you have always dreamed of? It is your retirement, and you should enjoy it. You worked hard for it, risked your life for your country, and deserve a relaxing, enjoyable and prosperous retirement.