Author Topic: Likely Changes to Military Retirement System (US)  (Read 21317 times)

Chuck

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Re: Likely Changes to Military Retirement System (US)
« Reply #100 on: May 14, 2015, 11:57:19 AM »
While 83% of the people in the military never make it to a pension, it's hard to separate out the MOSs which make up that total.  I'm not aware of demographic breakdowns of disability by military specialty, and I'd love to see any links that anyone can offer.
http://icasualties.org/iraq/fatalities.aspx

Breaks down both dead and wounded by service and unit. This doesn't definitively separate MOS's, but all those Cav, Combat and Armor units aren't sewage specialists. That the overwhelming majority of dead are from combat specialized units rather than support/air/com is indicative of a much higher risk of injury and death for combat arms MOS's.

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I think it's also extremely difficult to adjust a pension by MOS.

Australia did. All it takes is adjusting base pay by MOS, and leaving the rest of the system in place. But this solves a different problem (skilled MOS retention). If you want to solve the problem of retirement benefits for shortlived MOS careers like infantry you would be best served by... wait for it... adopting a defined contribution retirement plan with generous matching.

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While you write that the infantry occupations "literally sacrifice the most", I suspect that there are plenty of aviators and even submariners who qualify for that club.

No. There aren't. Having kept the company of both, submariners can have social disorders slowly develope, and aviators have high stress op tempos, but neither is going on patrol. Neither is sitting at the FOB waiting to be blown the fuck up. I am not in any way devaluing your service as a non-combat member of the military. I was non-combat as well. However, as a Marine with a combat deployment I worked very closely with guys who were getting blown up on a regular basis. My sacrifice and the risk that I was taking were much smaller than theirs. My knees still work. The chance of me getting shot (though present) was much smaller.

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Is the spinal damage from an infantry MOS worth more than the spinal damage from an aviator who takes excessive Gs or even ejects?  Is it worth more or less than the submariner's disability incurred from atmosphere control chemicals or occupational exposure to ionizing radiation? 

They are all equal, of course. But we aren't discussing VA disability claims, we're talking about the fact that said pilot and said squid are much more likely to make it 20 years and get their 1.2 million dollar pension. The equity of the diability system only serves to highlight the massive injustice inherent to the 20 year pension as it is.

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Your "sacrifice" comment may also be subject to recency bias.  The U.S.'s 21st-century wars have been fought mostly on land instead of on the sea and in the air.  I think you're also seeing more sacrifice because more of this century's servicemembers have survived their wounds than ever before.
So, I'm talking about the military as it is rather than as it was in 1943. Well, pardon me.

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As for the "fucked" comment-- the Navy version of that saying is "Choose your rate, choose your fate".  Nobody forces servicemembers to pick an occupational specialty, and in today's combat zones I think the risks are much more diffuse.  Nobody forces infantry members to go to Ranger or SF or SEAL training, either.  If people thought the compensation was unfair then they could have made another choice.
You need to familiarize yourself with MOS selection in other services. Start with the Marine Corps.

Spoiler alert: No one in the Marine Corps (No. One.) gets to pick their MOS except for pilots, linguists and the Marine Corps Band.

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By the way, I know a woman who enlisted in 1974 and retired in 2010.  She worked her way up the ranks from recruit training to a college degree and a commission.  Not only has she never been in combat, but for most of her career she was forbidden to serve in a combat zone.  Yet today she has a 60% disability rating from spinal and knee damage as well as other conditions. 

The relevant part of your anecdote is bolded. She retired. She made it 26 years. That simply is not possible for many combat arms MOS's, and to the extent that it is possible it is vanishingly unlikely.

Nords, I want you to understand that I, like you, was not a combat arms guy. I am not diminishing your service, any more than I would diminish my own. We all play a part in the puzzle and serve the mission blah blah blah...

BUT, the retirement system as it is today is not fair to those with physically demanding and operationally high risk MOS's. It just isnt. Saying to a grunt who deployed 7 times in the last 10 years and had to separate because he was used up "Well, should've picked a smart person MOS like me!" isn't good enough. In fact, it reflects very poorly on you.
« Last Edit: May 14, 2015, 01:37:11 PM by Chuck »

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Re: Likely Changes to Military Retirement System (US)
« Reply #101 on: May 14, 2015, 12:49:30 PM »
But this solves a different problem (skilled MOS retention). If you want to solve the problem of retirement benefits for shortlived MOS careers like infantry you would be best served by... wait for it... adopting a defined contribution retirement plan with generous matching.

BUT, the retirement system as it is today is not fair to those with physically demanding and operationally high risk MOS's. It just isnt. Saying to a grunt who deployed 7 times in the last 10 years and had to separate because he was used up "Well, should've pick a smart person MOS like me!" isn't good enough. In fact, it reflects very poorly on you.

I think most of the people in this thread will agree with you on these points. I think the system would be fairer for everyone if there was a generous match.

On the others, I think you're dragging us into an argument that is bollocks.

1) "Sacrifice" is extremely subjective and certainly not something on which we can put very many quantifiable metrics.
2) A lot of this is chance and the vagaries of various situations. My number could've been called the various times IDF came into the big base where I was deployed.
3) This ends up being what amounts to a size contest. I sacrificed more. NO I DID. OH YEAH? WELL, I DEPLOYED 5 TIMES. So? I deployed twice but I was on FOBs. Sound pretty childish? That's what the whole 'sacrificed more' thing really is. If we're talking about people who honorably served and aren't gaming the system, they all sacrificed in various ways.

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Re: Likely Changes to Military Retirement System (US)
« Reply #102 on: May 14, 2015, 01:11:18 PM »
those of us at the blunt end of the spear do all we can to support those at the pointy end.

It just baffles me that anyone thinks our military is so awesome because of some tough guys.  Tough guys are still vital, don't get me wrong, but they don't win wars the same way that aircraft carriers and stealth bombers and supply convoys do. 

I think it's their enormous capacity for logistics that sets the US military apart.  Despite all of the ridiculous inefficiencies, no other force on earth can put so many assets anywhere they want for as long as they want.  It seems to be a uniquely American strength, for now.

Just some random civilian's opinion.

It pretty much is unique to the US.  Even our allies have difficulty supporting their own forces with distant and long-duration logistics tails.  Several of my international relations textbooks identified our "superpower" and "global hegemon" status in part to this ability to go anywhere, anytime, for any length of time.  Nobody else comes close.

Add to that the safety of two large oceans on either side with access to both.  We're far enough from everybody, yet close enough to anybody, thanks to the staying power of the CVN and our unrivaled expertise in replenishment at sea.

Also, we were the only first-world country that didn't have its infrastructure demolished during WWII, giving us a built-in head start on the recovery process.

Chuck

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Re: Likely Changes to Military Retirement System (US)
« Reply #103 on: May 14, 2015, 01:32:07 PM »

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I think most of the people in this thread will agree with you on these points. I think the system would be fairer for everyone if there was a generous match.

Many here seem to disagree. I'm glad you see my point.

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On the others, I think you're dragging us into an argument that is bollocks.
I'm really not. I made the point that Infantry and Combat Arms folks almost never make it 20 years. The reason for that is that they deploy into the harshest enviornment and have the most punishing training and op tempos. This uses you up in every way, and eventually you have to leave. This isn't a bollocks argument, it's indisputable fact: Infantry guys don't get the 20 year pension because... 

Pointing this out to people who weren't in combat arms makes them very, very defensive, because it can be interpreted as suggesting that their contributions were lesser. That defensiveness is what's dragging us into the weeds- resulting in anecdotes about out how such and such non-combat person died, or such and such disability occured. This isn't about countering my argument, it's about justifying themselves and proving themselves worthy. That's, obviously, completely besides the point.

The point I was making is solid: Infantry people have it harder. So much harder that the greatest benefit of service is cut off from them, nearly completely. That needs to change.

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Re: Likely Changes to Military Retirement System (US)
« Reply #104 on: May 14, 2015, 01:36:31 PM »
The point I was making is solid: Infantry people have it harder. So much harder that the greatest benefit of service is cut off from them, nearly completely. That needs to change.
My first team leader was an infantryman before re-classing to be an analyst.  What is stopping an infantryman from re-classing into a lower op tempo MOS after a few years?  Not enough re-class slots would be my first guess.

Travis

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Re: Likely Changes to Military Retirement System (US)
« Reply #105 on: May 14, 2015, 01:38:34 PM »
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it's indisputable fact

I've been looking for sources on this all week. Do you have any?  Infantry is the hardest on the body in war or peace as a percentage of the force, but they're also the largest branch with more opportunities to make it to the top.  In raw numbers they probably have their fair share of people making it to 20, but as a percentage of their community there's probably a lot of attrition.  I just can't prove it one way or another yet.  If you can't either, it really hurts your case to make absolutist statements.

Chuck

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Re: Likely Changes to Military Retirement System (US)
« Reply #106 on: May 14, 2015, 01:42:49 PM »
The point I was making is solid: Infantry people have it harder. So much harder that the greatest benefit of service is cut off from them, nearly completely. That needs to change.
My first team leader was an infantryman before re-classing to be an analyst.  What is stopping an infantryman from re-classing into a lower op tempo MOS after a few years?  Not enough re-class slots would be my first guess.
Not enough slots, or no slots at all. There are rank requirements when reMOSing (as in, you must be below a certain rank) and there are also cost considerations. Services also value practical skill and combat experience, and wouldn't readily encourage battle tested troops to become mail clerks.

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Re: Likely Changes to Military Retirement System (US)
« Reply #107 on: May 14, 2015, 01:44:12 PM »
The point I was making is solid: Infantry people have it harder. So much harder that the greatest benefit of service is cut off from them, nearly completely. That needs to change.

I still disagree with this and stand by my earlier points.

Also, it isn't the non combat arms who get defensive generally, it is the combat arms who go on the offensive. I don't hear UAV pilots being defensive about their PTSD, but I do see and hear combat arms people questioning it.

In fact, given a long enough time with anyone from 'higher ops tempo' career fields, I invariably hear, at a minimum, jokes about how they have it harder or how my career field/service is bullshit. Whatever man, that's crap. It is completely subjective and it is stupid.

Now, again, we agree on the main point...not everyone makes it to 20 years and a lot of people do give up a lot without having much IN THE WAY OF RETIREMENT SAVINGS (sorry, emphasis because someone will invariably mention the GI Bill or VA benefits). The system would clearly be fairer and more just if we had some form of defined contributions.

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Re: Likely Changes to Military Retirement System (US)
« Reply #108 on: May 14, 2015, 02:29:15 PM »
There is another dynamic to the idea about transferring to a less punishing MOS after a few years of pounding much ground. 

In my experinence working and fighting with a combat arms unit (they needed a transportation officer but to their dismay I came with incorrectly issued female parts), when a young soldier would explore other branches, their NCO's would typically beat them down about the decision, call them demeaning names (like being a pu$$y).  There was this tribal machismo that actively worked against young soldiers who were looking to find a different path.  Like if you weren't Infantry, you weren't crap (yes, said within my earshot).  And who signs the request for transfer to a different MOS?  That same NCO who has a low opinion of the idea.  So what is a young "ground pounder" to do faced with such odds? 

Why leave the service, of course.  And miss out on the opportunity to work towards that retirement holy grail.

I firmly believe that in addition to a 20 or nothing policy not being the right way to run a retirement program, that this is an NCO/leadership problem, and that the military needs to do a better job of helping soldiers change career fields (whether their command endorses or not).


Nords

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Re: Likely Changes to Military Retirement System (US)
« Reply #109 on: May 14, 2015, 03:00:10 PM »
BUT, the retirement system as it is today is not fair to those with physically demanding and operationally high risk MOS's. It just isnt.
There's just not much left to discuss with a perspective which uses sentences like that.  I've heard from quite a few readers over the years, and your opinion is different from almost all of them.  It might even be unique, but I haven't been tracking the opinions.

In fact, it reflects very poorly on you.
I'm sorry if you feel that any of my response was meant as a personal attack, and that's not my intent.  I think your ad hoc criticism is also uncalled for.  If the strength of a debate rests on tearing down the opponent or shooting the messenger, it would appear that there's a shortage of other compelling supporting evidence.

I'm trying to gather information which could be used in a blog post or a book, and I'd like to include facts and studies which lay out the information for people to be better informed.  Maybe then we can make better legislation (and choices) about the pension system.

While 83% of the people in the military never make it to a pension, it's hard to separate out the MOSs which make up that total.  I'm not aware of demographic breakdowns of disability by military specialty, and I'd love to see any links that anyone can offer.
http://icasualties.org/iraq/fatalities.aspx

Breaks down both dead and wounded by service and unit. This doesn't definitively separate MOS's, but all those Cav, Combat and Armor units aren't sewage specialists. That the overwhelming majority of dead are from combat specialized units rather than support/air/com is indicative of a much higher risk of injury and death for combat arms MOS's.
While this link lists killed & wounded, I'm hoping to find a study which analyzes what percentage of each MOS receives disability ratings or disability retirements or regular pensions or Reserve/Guard pensions.   A study has to start with data like this, and I'm hoping that an agency or think tank has turned it into information.

For the rest of the forum readers, I'm also seeking a study that breaks down retirement statistics not just by service but by MOS.

Otherwise we're swapping anecdotes, and I believe that one of the posters used to have a signature saying "The plural of anecdote is not data".
« Last Edit: May 14, 2015, 03:15:06 PM by Nords »

Travis

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Re: Likely Changes to Military Retirement System (US)
« Reply #110 on: May 14, 2015, 04:16:06 PM »
The most recent rollup of the officer promotion boards isn't downloading for me right now, but for the Army as a whole the promotion rate to O-2 is 99% at 2 years, 90% to O-3 at 4 years, 70% to O-4 at 11 years, 50% to O-5 at 17 years, and 35% to O-6 at 22 years.  This works out to between 15-20% of the officer corps making it to 20 years.  It varies by branch with some branches having more O-5 spaces than others.  In the infantry the drop in slots from O-1 to O-5 is 90%, but that doesn't take into account that 30% of the captains will be reclassed into functional areas. 

By the 10-year mark, half of the officer corps has voluntarily moved on.  Unless you have enlisted time under your belt you must make it to O-5 to make it to 20.  12-13% of the enlisted force makes it to 20 years, with a majority getting out around 7 years in.  Unlike the officers, you don't have to rise to the top to retire enlisted.  The retention control point for E-6 is 20 years.  There are 55,000 infantrymen in the Army- twice the next two MOS series combined.  Measuring from that point up to E-9, literally twice the number of infantrymen than signal will reach 20 years (14k vs 7800).  What isn't clear is how many infantrymen leave the service in their first few years compared to the rest of the force.

Attached is a report that Walter Reid did between 2005 and 2011 measuring medical retirements and disability ratings between combat arms and noncombat arms MOSs also taking deployments into account. It found that in comparing nondeployed combat arms and support medical retirements, the numbers were about equal.  When deployed populations were compared, combat arms MOSs were 20% more likely to receive a medical retirement (>30% disability).  It seems to show a roughly equal share of less-than-retired medical ratings between the categories.  Muscoskeletal injuries leading to retirement are about equal between the deployed categories, but the psychological injuries are much higher in combat arms. Nondeployed injuries in those categories was about equal.

http://www.amsara.amedd.army.mil/Documents/DES_Publication/2.%20Gubata_MilMed_2013(2).pdf
« Last Edit: May 14, 2015, 04:47:41 PM by Travis »

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Re: Likely Changes to Military Retirement System (US)
« Reply #111 on: May 14, 2015, 04:21:22 PM »
The most recent rollup of the officer promotion boards isn't downloading for me right now, but for the Army as a whole the promotion rate to O-2 is 99% at 2 years, 90% to O-3 at 4 years, 70% to O-4 at 11 years, 50% to O-5 at 17 years, and 35% to O-6 at 22 years.  This works out to between 15-20% of the officer corps making it to 20 years.  It varies by branch with some branches having more O-5 spaces than others.  In the infantry the drop in slots from O-1 to O-5 is 90%, but that doesn't take into account that 30% of the captains will be reclassed into functional areas. 

Don't forget that a good percentage of officers have prior "E" time, so they could retire at less than O5 rank.

Nords

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Re: Likely Changes to Military Retirement System (US)
« Reply #112 on: May 14, 2015, 04:44:12 PM »
Thanks for the officer stats.  In the Navy, by the percentages it's easier to make O-5 than E-8-- and frequently faster.  But it's hard to tease out the capabilities and the retention issues and the other reasons for that statistic.

Attached is a report that Walter Reid did between 2005 and 2011 measuring medical retirements and disability ratings between combat arms and noncombat arms MOSs also taking deployments into account. It found that in comparing nondeployed combat arms and support medical retirements, the numbers were about equal.  When deployed populations were compared, combat arms MOSs were 20% more likely to receive a medical retirement (>30% disability).  It seems to show a roughly equal share of less-than-retired medical ratings between the categories.  Muscoskeletal injuries leading to retirement are about equal between the deployed categories, but the psychological injuries are much higher in combat arms. Nondeployed injuries in those categories was about equal.

http://www.amsara.amedd.army.mil/Documents/DES_Publication/2.%20Gubata_MilMed_2013(2).pdf
Very interesting.  Huge sample size, too.  Thanks again.

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Re: Likely Changes to Military Retirement System (US)
« Reply #113 on: May 14, 2015, 04:48:24 PM »
The most recent rollup of the officer promotion boards isn't downloading for me right now, but for the Army as a whole the promotion rate to O-2 is 99% at 2 years, 90% to O-3 at 4 years, 70% to O-4 at 11 years, 50% to O-5 at 17 years, and 35% to O-6 at 22 years.  This works out to between 15-20% of the officer corps making it to 20 years.  It varies by branch with some branches having more O-5 spaces than others.  In the infantry the drop in slots from O-1 to O-5 is 90%, but that doesn't take into account that 30% of the captains will be reclassed into functional areas. 

Don't forget that a good percentage of officers have prior "E" time, so they could retire at less than O5 rank.

I covered that when I said "prior enlisted time."

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Re: Likely Changes to Military Retirement System (US)
« Reply #114 on: May 14, 2015, 05:11:47 PM »
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Thanks for the officer stats.  In the Navy, by the percentages it's easier to make O-5 than E-8-- and frequently faster.  But it's hard to tease out the capabilities and the retention issues and the other reasons for that statistic.

If I'm reading the reports right it's slightly easier in the infantry to make O-5 than E-8, but it's not apples to apples since a lot of infantry officers will retire as something other than infantry due to Army operational requirements.  For example, there are three times as many signal O-3s as there are signal O-1s, but the promotion rate from O-3 to O-5 is around 25%.  Many of those infantry O-1s will become signal O-3s after their first four years. The promotion rate in the enlisted signal corps from E-1 to E-8 is around 10%.  It's damn near impossible to figure out the promotion rates from O-1 to O-5 for the branches, but the aggregate is supposed to be around 15% for the entire officer force.

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Re: Likely Changes to Military Retirement System (US)
« Reply #115 on: May 15, 2015, 08:51:50 AM »
While this link lists killed & wounded, I'm hoping to find a study which analyzes what percentage of each MOS receives disability ratings or disability retirements or regular pensions or Reserve/Guard pensions.   A study has to start with data like this, and I'm hoping that an agency or think tank has turned it into information.

I don't think you'll find large scale data on MOS/AFSC and disability available to the public (edit: guess I was wrong and should have kept reading as there is a study linked above for the army).  It wouldn't surprise me if the RAND Corp has completed a study on retirement by AFSC.

Here is my small sample observations relating to the Air Force.  The most common conditions I saw rated for disability were conditions correlated with an increase in age.  Luckily the obviously combat related, highly political and highly visible cases are relatively rare and they don't impact the overall statistics like people think they would based on the visibility.  The common conditions are seen across all MOS/AFSC's roughly equally, therefore the number of people who receive a disability in each MOS/AFSC is proportional to the number of people in each MOS/AFSC.  There may be some statistically significant abnormalities where MOS/AFSC X has a high rate of condition Y but I didn't see it in the numbers, despite the fact that there are clearly jobs that are more physically demanding than others and I feel like there should be.

The VA releases aggregated information on their claims and it seems to sync with my small sample size opinions pretty well.  The most prevalent service connected disabilities in 2013 were:
Tinnitus - 1,121,709 7.0%
Hearing loss - 854,855 5.3%
Post-traumatic stress disorder - 648,992 4.0%
Lumbosacral or cervical strain - 616,937 3.8%
Scars, general - 574,191 3.6%
Limitation of flexion, knee - 453,704 2.8%
Diabetes mellitus - 398,480 2.5%
Paralysis of the sciatic nerve - 346,572 2.2%
Limitation of motion of the ankle - 343,834 2.1%
Degenerative Arthritis of the Spine - 335,692 2.1%

I don't think this really tells the full story as there are literally hundreds of specific conditions (if not thousands) and a better representation is cases by body system (with the common name for the most common conditions in that category):
Musculoskeletal 541,280 (Lower back pain)
Auditory 222,139 (Ringing of the ears/hearing loss)
Skin 150,423 (Scars)
Neurological 133,195 (Damaged/pinched nerve specifically the Sciatic nerve which ranges in severity of symptoms)
Mental 100,515 (PTSD)
Respiratory 70,058 (Sleep Apnea)
Digestive 53,258 (Hernias)
Cardiovascular 41,494 (High blood pressure)
Genitourinary 50,291 (Erectile Dysfunction)
Endocrine 26,056 (Diabetes)
The Eye 15,385 (Conjunctivitis)
Dental /Oral 7,139 (Limited jaw movement)
Gynecological 6,340 (Hysterectomies)
Hemic/Lymphatic 3,626 (Anemia)
Infection /Immune/Nutrition 2,129 (Malaria)

On the subject of PTSD there seems to be a lot of talk about RPA pilots and PTSD and studies have shown their rate of PTSD to be equivalent to manned pilots.  It's also rare, with a less than 1% occurrence rate.  I think a lot of the concern is media generated and by movies like "Good Kill" that recently came out.  The incidence among pilots is less than the incidence among those in health care, administrative/supply, combat-specific, and the AF overall.  I figure many people will find the fact that there is a higher incidence of PTSD in administrative/supply than pilots interesting but I believe that's due to a general lack of understand about what PTSD is and what can contribute to the condition, just like there is a general lack of understanding about most mental/behavioral health conditions.

References for people who want more or have differing statistics/opinions:
http://www.benefits.va.gov/REPORTS/abr/ABR-Compensation-FY13-09262014.pdf
http://www.benefits.va.gov/warms/bookc.asp#p
https://timemilitary.files.wordpress.com/2013/04/pages-from-pages-from-msmr_mar_2013_external_causes_of_tbi.pdf
« Last Edit: May 15, 2015, 09:04:24 AM by act0fgod »

act0fgod

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Re: Likely Changes to Military Retirement System (US)
« Reply #116 on: May 15, 2015, 09:41:17 AM »
Attached is a report that Walter Reid did between 2005 and 2011 measuring medical retirements and disability ratings between combat arms and noncombat arms MOSs also taking deployments into account. It found that in comparing nondeployed combat arms and support medical retirements, the numbers were about equal.  When deployed populations were compared, combat arms MOSs were 20% more likely to receive a medical retirement (>30% disability).  It seems to show a roughly equal share of less-than-retired medical ratings between the categories.  Muscoskeletal injuries leading to retirement are about equal between the deployed categories, but the psychological injuries are much higher in combat arms. Nondeployed injuries in those categories was about equal.

http://www.amsara.amedd.army.mil/Documents/DES_Publication/2.%20Gubata_MilMed_2013(2).pdf

Since the ratio of combat arms to other (teeth to tail) is lower than the studies 1:2 (24674:42431) ratio it would appear combat arms has a higher rate of conditions that result in disability due to a medical condition.  I think this makes sense despite what I observed in the AF where we have an even lower teeth to tail ratio than the army.  I never saw a PJ or TACP, which are arguably the most physically demanding AF careers (likely based on geography).

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Re: Likely Changes to Military Retirement System (US)
« Reply #117 on: May 15, 2015, 09:58:26 AM »
Thanks for the officer stats.  In the Navy, by the percentages it's easier to make O-5 than E-8-- and frequently faster.  But it's hard to tease out the capabilities and the retention issues and the other reasons for that statistic.

Attached is a report that Walter Reid did between 2005 and 2011 measuring medical retirements and disability ratings between combat arms and noncombat arms MOSs also taking deployments into account. It found that in comparing nondeployed combat arms and support medical retirements, the numbers were about equal.  When deployed populations were compared, combat arms MOSs were 20% more likely to receive a medical retirement (>30% disability).  It seems to show a roughly equal share of less-than-retired medical ratings between the categories.  Muscoskeletal injuries leading to retirement are about equal between the deployed categories, but the psychological injuries are much higher in combat arms. Nondeployed injuries in those categories was about equal.

http://www.amsara.amedd.army.mil/Documents/DES_Publication/2.%20Gubata_MilMed_2013(2).pdf
Very interesting.  Huge sample size, too.  Thanks again.

Please correct me if I'm wrong, but this is only a study of Enlisted MEN.  You are missing the Officer and female population completely in this analysis, and those women would be in the Combat service support MOS's because they aren't permitted to be in Combat Arms.  Does a similar study exist for females?

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Re: Likely Changes to Military Retirement System (US)
« Reply #118 on: May 15, 2015, 10:57:53 AM »
Thanks for the officer stats.  In the Navy, by the percentages it's easier to make O-5 than E-8-- and frequently faster.  But it's hard to tease out the capabilities and the retention issues and the other reasons for that statistic.

Attached is a report that Walter Reid did between 2005 and 2011 measuring medical retirements and disability ratings between combat arms and noncombat arms MOSs also taking deployments into account. It found that in comparing nondeployed combat arms and support medical retirements, the numbers were about equal.  When deployed populations were compared, combat arms MOSs were 20% more likely to receive a medical retirement (>30% disability).  It seems to show a roughly equal share of less-than-retired medical ratings between the categories.  Muscoskeletal injuries leading to retirement are about equal between the deployed categories, but the psychological injuries are much higher in combat arms. Nondeployed injuries in those categories was about equal.

http://www.amsara.amedd.army.mil/Documents/DES_Publication/2.%20Gubata_MilMed_2013(2).pdf
Very interesting.  Huge sample size, too.  Thanks again.

Please correct me if I'm wrong, but this is only a study of Enlisted MEN.  You are missing the Officer and female population completely in this analysis, and those women would be in the Combat service support MOS's because they aren't permitted to be in Combat Arms.  Does a similar study exist for females?

I'm sure one exists somewhere, but I count myself lucky I found this one at all.  The intro to the study does say they kept it focused on enlisted men in order to minimize the variables since they were studying combat arms MOSs.  The intro did mention that women have had a rising rate of muscoskeletal injuries and related medical retirements over the last 30 years.  From what I've read on the subject they tend to have more difficulty adapting to the heavier workloads, especially during initial training.

Nords

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Re: Likely Changes to Military Retirement System (US)
« Reply #119 on: May 16, 2015, 12:02:01 AM »
While this link lists killed & wounded, I'm hoping to find a study which analyzes what percentage of each MOS receives disability ratings or disability retirements or regular pensions or Reserve/Guard pensions.   A study has to start with data like this, and I'm hoping that an agency or think tank has turned it into information.

I don't think you'll find large scale data on MOS/AFSC and disability available to the public (edit: guess I was wrong and should have kept reading as there is a study linked above for the army).  It wouldn't surprise me if the RAND Corp has completed a study on retirement by AFSC.

Here is my small sample observations relating to the Air Force. 
Thanks again.  I go through the RAND site every few months but studies like this are all too infrequent.

Maybe that's why the topic is so controversial: scant data.

Please correct me if I'm wrong, but this is only a study of Enlisted MEN.  You are missing the Officer and female population completely in this analysis, and those women would be in the Combat service support MOS's because they aren't permitted to be in Combat Arms.  Does a similar study exist for females?
Hey hey hey, I don't know whether your tone was intentional, but you could lighten up a little.

You've taken a volunteer to task for finding a study on a subject in which we already know there are very few studies.  This is not the best time to kvetch about the quality or coverage of the data.  Think of it as brainstorming for references.  Once the pile is big enough then we can start filtering for credibility.

I'm married to a woman military veteran and we're the parents of a military servicemember.  I also see how male military spouses are treated every day (intentionally or ignorantly) by the other 90% of the members of the spouses' clubs.  We're keenly aware of the issue.

If you find a military disability study involving women, officers, races, religions, and even Republicans or Raiders fans then I'm all eyeballs.  What we need now is more links and fewer critiques.


--------------- Break.  New update on retirements.  --------------------


While I was answering a reader question on another subject (which turned into a draft post) I realized that the U.S. military pension system is already (slightly) adjusted for combat arms.

In the 2008 National Defense Authorization Act, Congress passed a law for Reserve/Guard servicemembers who deployed to combat zones.  For every 90 days during a fiscal year (after 28 Jan 2008) that they served in a combat zone, their pension would start 90 days earlier.  (That's the basic concept, and there are additional caveats.)  The 2015 NDAA updated the law to remove the fiscal-year language for deployments after 30 Sep 14.  And the law only allows for an earlier start to the Reserve/Guard pension, while Tricare is still stuck at 60 years of age.

Another combat-related pension adjustment is Combat-Related Special Compensation. 

These laws apply to any servicemember who meets those requirements in a combat zone, not just those in the combat arms branches.  There's certainly room for improvement.  But they are pension adjustments which reflect combat service.

Villanelle

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Re: Likely Changes to Military Retirement System (US)
« Reply #120 on: May 16, 2015, 04:37:50 AM »
Since there are special pays that, in many (but of course not all) cases adjust for danger or unpleasantness, allowing those to be included in pension calculations could be one way of adjusting for the perceived issue of some jobs being more difficult.  It doesn't necessarily help with the supposition we've seen here that infantrymen rarely make it to 20, but it would be something.  Some sort of average of these special pays over the span of the career could be added to the base pay used in calculating retirement numbers.

If the Powers that Be wanted to, they could even add some factors for those in difficult-to-retain jobs that don't have a special pay.  It we ned to incentivize (or want to reward) infantry personnel for staying in to 20, it would be easy to set up a system that adds $XXX per year served in that MOS to the base pay.

Also, if having people coasting at O-4 (with prior E time) to O-6, and whatever the similar numbers are on the E side, is a problem, tinkering with the % for retirement might be useful.  Right now, it is 2.5% per year, even after 20.  Make that 2% from 21-25, and 1.75 from 26-30, and a few bucks could be saved.  I doubt those changes would cause too many people to leave if they would have stayed at 2.5%, but at least it would save some money on the backs of a crowd that seem to be staying past their welcome in some cases.  If someone wanted to get more complex, they could base it somewhat on rank.  O-4 gets 2.5-.75 for 21-25 and -1.25 for 26-30.  O-5 gets 2.5-.5 for 21-25 and -1 for 26-30, etc. 


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Re: Likely Changes to Military Retirement System (US)
« Reply #121 on: May 16, 2015, 08:37:45 AM »

The bolded above - very cool but it doesn't help with the issue Chuck brought up about combat/infantry people not being able to make it to 20 and get the pension because of the nature of the job. Not really sure how to compensate for those situations other than change the pension set up. Maybe the military needs to set up pensions the way it's done for public pensions - vested after a certain amount of time (say a 6 year tour) and then combine years of service and pay for a guaranteed pension at a certain age - 55 or so. Then for each year a person spends deployed to a combat arena they can lower the age they get their pension by a year. Not a great solution and no getting the pension at 38 any longer unless you deployed to a combat zone almost your entire career but that formula works OK for the civilian sector - which generally has a lower age retirement for certain physically demanding and dangerous public safety jobs..

I think all these solutions just end up benefitting different people and screwing (maybe that's too strong a word; "disadvantaging" others).  Being on a navy ship for 9 months straight is brutal.  I suspect sub duty, even more so.  But you do aren't doing it across a somewhat arbitrary line in the ocean, you aren't in a combat area.  So you get less retirement than your peers, simply because their ship floated slightly further East?  Or you do a dangerous job but never or rarely in a combat area, and someone else who is [relatively] safely behind a desk at a large, well stocked and defended base gets a better pension?

I don't think that's any better than what exits now.  I'd argue that it is worse.  They system now treats everyone equally, though some are arguing that's inherently unfair.  But I think once you try to account for parity concerns, then when you end up disadvantaging someone who fairly obviously shouldn't be disadvantaged, it is somehow worse.  When you say you are going to take into account danger, difficulty, stress, physical toll, etc., and then your system does so in a grossly inequitable way, it's worse than if you don't try, IMO. 

You mention that it works for civilians, but they do it according to job.  That would be much better, IMO, than doing it by simply time spent over a certain line, which, in a lot of ways, means little and which is already given better compensation due to tax free pay.  Job is probably more meaningful.  But many of those jobs (not all) are given special pays, so they already make more than there peers. 

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Re: Likely Changes to Military Retirement System (US)
« Reply #122 on: May 16, 2015, 10:07:41 AM »
That's how I understood your post--that combat time would allow you to collect earlier.  In effect, that's a bigger pension for those who cross that line more often.  (Unless maybe you are using a different definition of "combat time."  That is not job related.  While I'd disagree with a job related increase, I think at least that would be better than basing it on "combat time", given how wildly that experience can vary, especially in the areas of danger, stress, physical toll, and all the things the seem to make it harder for some MOSes to get to 20.  (Assuming that is the case.)

Everyone vesting earlier seems equitable, though I have my doubts about whether or not it will cause issues with retention.  But once you add more benefits for combat time, I think that gets messy and doesn't even target the benefits in a way that solves the supposed problem of infantry personnel not making it to 20. 

Just my $.03, of course. 

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Re: Likely Changes to Military Retirement System (US)
« Reply #123 on: May 17, 2015, 01:46:47 PM »
Please correct me if I'm wrong, but this is only a study of Enlisted MEN.  You are missing the Officer and female population completely in this analysis, and those women would be in the Combat service support MOS's because they aren't permitted to be in Combat Arms.  Does a similar study exist for females?
Hey hey hey, I don't know whether your tone was intentional, but you could lighten up a little.
So sorry everybody, I certainly didn't mean to come across negatively in pointing out the limitations of the data.  It is really interesting, and I certainly didn't intent to negate the contribution.  Deepest apologies.