Author Topic: Canadian mustachians - Any of you in the military?  (Read 2348 times)

max9505672

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Canadian mustachians - Any of you in the military?
« on: August 01, 2017, 11:19:09 PM »
Hi!

I am looking for fellow Canadians who work in the military to discuss many related subject such as salaries, pensions, social advantages, etc.

I won't ask any specific questions yet since I am not sure if I will find someone to discuss with, but if I do, I will gladly update this thread so others can benefit from it.

Thanks!

***For specific questions, see post #3***
« Last Edit: August 03, 2017, 05:08:15 PM by max9505672 »

Sun Hat

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Re: Canadian mustachians - Any of you in the military?
« Reply #1 on: August 03, 2017, 08:30:21 AM »
Hi Max,

I just got out after 18 years and am happy to discuss anything you'd like. Had it not been for a medical release (not bitter, sh*t just happens), I would have stayed longer.


max9505672

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Re: Canadian mustachians - Any of you in the military?
« Reply #2 on: August 03, 2017, 05:07:43 PM »
Hi Max,

I just got out after 18 years and am happy to discuss anything you'd like. Had it not been for a medical release (not bitter, sh*t just happens), I would have stayed longer.
Hi Sun Hat,

Thanks for your answer! If it's not too indiscreet, what was your position in the military?

For my part, I completed a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering one year ago and have been working in an office since then. I am considering the military because I'd like a more physical and action driven job which is pretty rare in my field. In fact, I am considering the military to become a pilot (not a jet pilot, I know that's very very hard), but I would also consider other options too.

I know the salaries are public and can be found online, but I have a few questions related to the general military life and social advantages. Being pretty frugal, I won't hide my desire to make the most of the benefits and I'd still plan to retire early (around 10 years).

1. I know everybody has to go through the basic officer training for 15 weeks + a professional specific training for your job. Are those trainings paid?

2. Once your training is completed, I think you get to go work on a base somewhere in Canada depending on your job. I'd like to know what a typical day looks like? (Do you eat, sleep on the base? Do you find a home near the base? Does the military pays some kind of per diem for working far away from your home?)

3. I know there's a pension plan in the military, though I don't know the exact details. I would assume that wyou would need to work for X number of years in the military in order to be eligible and I would also assume that the pension has an impact on the salaries (lower salaries while working but pension after retirement). Do you have the option of waiving the pension and getting more salary/contribution? What about the people leaving before getting the pension, do they get some kind of compensation?

4. Any other retirement contribution: RRSP match in DPSP for example?

5. General social advantages (insurances, dentist, access to doctor/psychologists, vacations, etc.)?

Thanks for your help!

Sun Hat

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Re: Canadian mustachians - Any of you in the military?
« Reply #3 on: August 03, 2017, 06:16:36 PM »
Hi Max,

I'm not super comfortable saying exactly what I did, since it was a really small pond.

With a Mech Eng degree, you can certainly apply to be a pilot (they all love their jobs), but also consider Combat Engineer (Army), Maritime Systems Engineer and Naval Combat Systems (Navy). The Combat Engineering officers get to blow things up, build bridges and be on the front line where things are interesting. Army postings aren't awesome, with major bases in Edmonton, Shilo Manitoba, Gagetown (just outside of Fredrickton, NB), and Petawawa. I've worked with all three elements, and I really like the camraderie that the army has (they are least asinine about the difference between officers and non-commissioned members).

The postings for the navy are the best. Esquimalt (Victoria) and Halifax. Sometimes they get posted to Ottawa to manage projects. Often the hard-sea trade navy folks can go over ten years without having to move, which can be nice on a spouse/family.

1) Yes, everything is paid. Everything.

2) Once your training is completed (this can take over a year), you generally get sent to your first job at a base in Canada. Most people live off base in the community. Quarters are often available to rent from the CAF, but they're at a market rate, so no real bargain - unless you're single and living in single quarters - they're boisterous, but cheap. Normally, people choose to buy property rather than rent, since all costs relating to selling a property and moving are covered by the Crown (ok, there's a huge booklet that outlines what is covered, but I did a bunch of moves and always made money on them)

For your inintial trade courses, you will be posted to the training school, which means that it is your home (so no allowances, just your regular pay - I don't remember if you're deducted a nominal charge for room and board - sorry, it's been a while since I did those).

After you're done your initial training, you will still be sent on short courses and business trips. For those short outings, you do get a per diem of something ridiculous like $100/day for food. Some people spend it, some people go to a grocery store and pocket the money.

3) The pension plan went through some changes during my career, and there are parts that I don't remember 100%. What I can say for certain is that you now have to serve 25 years (rather than the old 20) before becoming eligible for a normal, immediate annuity pension (you get it right away and it's indexed to inflation right away - this is super rare in the world of pensions and an HUGE perk). The pension is 2% per year of service, up to 35 years, or 70%. The 2% is broken down into two parts 1.35% and 0.65%. The 1.35% is the core component, which you get until you die, and the 0.65% is called a bridging component, which you get until you turn 65. It's designed to carry you until you can start to collect CPP at 65.

What I'm fuzzy on is what happens when you hit retirement age (normally 55, though it can be extended to 60 if you have vital skills) before your 25 years. I think that you get to collect it for the years that you have served - but if you're over 30 and thinking of joining, I'd ask a recruiter to clarify.

If you serve more than 10 years and are medically released (whether it's a service injury or not), you also get to collect your pension for the years that you have served.

The other pension detail that has changed since I joined is that I believe that regular force and reserve service can both count toward the 25 years. Again, this could provide you with some interesting options if you want to change plans or stay put before you reach 25 years of reg force service. A recruiter or release clerk should be able to tell you the current policy (not to worry about subsequent changes, you're always governed by the policy that was current when you signed your contract).

If  you leave before you reach 25 years, you get two options (check with a release clerk to be sure that I'm still current and not forgetting an option): you can get a return of your contributions (there is a mandatory deduction from every pay to contribute to your pension plan); or, you can get an annuity once you reach 65. I do remember that the math generally works in your favour when you opt for the annuity - so long as you plan on living a long life. Some people want the cash up front to fund projects though.

You can't opt out of the pension in favour of more pay. There are things that you can do to increase your pay though. Some trades offer "specialist pay", which is an allowance on top of your regular pay. Aircrew get "flight pay" on days that they fly, sailors get "sea pay" when at sea, and soldiers get "land duty allowance" when in the field. You don't pay income tax when deployed overseas (it has to be an operational mission  - not for training courses), this is a huge, huge bonus.


4. The pension plan dramatically reduces your available RRSP room. Unlike most people in the private sector who get to contribute 18% (with some sort of limit), my max pension space was about 3k annually. It's the one drawback to the sweet pension. The good thing is that if you do get out and opt for the payout of your pension contributions, I'm almost certain that it can go into your RRSP regardless of available room. You can't opt out of the pension.

5. Social advantages:
For the member everything is paid for. Doctor, dentist, psychologist (there's a mental health office on every base - go there after every deployment whether you think that you need to or not - we see and do intense stuff, so it's good to have someone help you process things before they fester - it's basic self care), pharmacy, transferring driver's license between province, uniforms - you name it, it's covered. They even paid for my MA.
For dependents: I think that there are supports, but I have no idea what they are.

For Travel: Canadian military are normally given access to perks designed for US military folks, though there aren't a lot designed just for us. However, if you want to travel around the US or Canada, you can stay at bases for next to nothing (including Hawaii and yurts in Colorado). During some postings I traveled so much that I took no leisure trips. Also, I got to see some really remarkable places at very interesting times.

Shopping discounts vary by city, but I do know that you get 10% discount at Home Depot.


Random other things:

6) OUTCAN postings can be a great way to save money and see the world, since your rent is partially subsidized. You pay the rate for quarters in Canada, and the Crown pays a generous differential. You loose this if you buy, so rent when OUTCAN. Granted, I was single when I was abroad, so my rate for SQ was super low, so I lived virtually rent free, and saved most of my pay. MANY of my peers just lived the high life and spent every cent, which made their readjustment tough when they returned to Canada. It's also a good career move for many trades.

7) When in Canada, buy properties that can be resold easily. So, remote farms or quirky fixer-uppers in rough neighborhoods might have to wait. This is of course dependent on how often you expect to be posted, but I always opted for modestly priced places in good areas, and of 13 moves, the longest that I had a place on the market was 8 days. Part of my sales tactic is clean like your RSM is coming through.

8) I've seen a number of people get to stay in major centres because of their spouse's job or a kid's medical issue - but 100% of the cases where I've seen special consideration granted where to people whose CoC and CM's loved them. So it can help your marriage to be a keener in the office. It doesn't always work, but troublemakers are posted more often than others (sometimes it's easier for weak COs to post rather than address shortcomings in subordinates)

9) It pays to network and to be known as a problem-solver. Awesome things happen when people think of you as a solution.

10) Don't marry anyone who isn't cool with you deploying, since your deployment $ is tax free, and they're really interesting.

I know that this is a bit scattered, but please feel free to ask any and all questions you've got about the life. It's a good one!


« Last Edit: August 16, 2017, 02:42:48 PM by Sun Hat »

joonifloofeefloo

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Re: Canadian mustachians - Any of you in the military?
« Reply #4 on: August 03, 2017, 07:36:49 PM »
[Following, in case my kid goes this route. That post was amazing, Sun Hat!]

Lews Therin

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Re: Canadian mustachians - Any of you in the military?
« Reply #5 on: August 03, 2017, 08:00:49 PM »
Sun hat hit most of the points.
Things to add: when leaving before full pension, if you have enough time in, you get a "transfer value". Example, 5 years rmc which is university as a military member, 5 years officer, his transfer value was 150k. Sea/air and land pay are no longer exactly the same, as units that "often" deploy/fly/go out to sea, get it at all timea, regardless of where they are

For air force/pilot specific info, if you want to hit me with a pm, i can give you the info by phone, since its situational. Depending on what you want, there are many different paths. I'm also posting this so I can answer questions if there are some, since i'm still currently in the military, and have been for ten years.
« Last Edit: August 03, 2017, 08:09:16 PM by Canadian Ben »

max9505672

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Re: Canadian mustachians - Any of you in the military?
« Reply #6 on: August 04, 2017, 11:05:11 AM »
Wow lots of great information, thanks Sun Hat! I will definitely go meet a military representative as a next step!

Sun hat hit most of the points.
Things to add: when leaving before full pension, if you have enough time in, you get a "transfer value". Example, 5 years rmc which is university as a military member, 5 years officer, his transfer value was 150k. Sea/air and land pay are no longer exactly the same, as units that "often" deploy/fly/go out to sea, get it at all timea, regardless of where they are

So instead of getting any kind of pension contribution, you would get that transfer value but how is it paid to you?

Lews Therin

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Re: Canadian mustachians - Any of you in the military?
« Reply #7 on: August 04, 2017, 02:05:50 PM »
Either cash (taxed as income) or some lira and some rrsp. Or a mix of those.

TrMama

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Re: Canadian mustachians - Any of you in the military?
« Reply #8 on: August 04, 2017, 02:30:09 PM »
I'm not a CF member, but my DH is. We've been married for about a dozen years so I have *some* experience with it on the family side. A few more random points to keep in mind:

Definitely talk to a recruiter. After you've narrowed down your choice of trades, get in touch with several people actually in those trades so you can get the real scoop. I know of lots of people whose recruiter gave them inaccurate info.

Almost no one goes the full 20 (or 25) years so it's good you're not planning on that. Many are medically released, many burn out, many families/spouses can't take the separation, etc.

Extended health benefits for families are fantastic. Dependents and spouses get The Public Service Health Care Plan (you can Google it). I combine that with the benefits package from my own employer to create a gold plated plan for the kids and I.

As long as you don't make any egregious screw ups, it's really hard to be fired. This gives you excellent income stability. Conversely, if you get fed up, you can't quit easily. Frequent moves can be really hard on your spouse's career.

You will be drug tested. You cannot use pot, even when it becomes fully legal. Should be obvious but this has tripped up some of TrPapa's new recruits lately.

Lews Therin

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Re: Canadian mustachians - Any of you in the military?
« Reply #9 on: August 24, 2017, 10:00:03 AM »
Did you get all your answers OP?