13 September 2010

Retirement, Part Deux.

So, are y'all ready for part two? Well, ready or not, here it comes... (and if you missed part one, check it out)

Okay everybody, here's the gist of it: there are things you should do, things you must do, and things that are way more complicated than they should be that often you don't/won't get told about. Is it annoying? Of course. But the main thing is (hopefully) that you get the nitty gritty list from someone who has just gone through it (because we all know in 5-10 years this process is going to be totally different) and make sure you do the things that aren't on the official list. Here is my list.


  • At the risk of sounding like a broken record, if your spouse should have any ailments, any at all, go to sick call and get it documented! This might require multiple trips (I'd suggest multiple trips with similar ailments bundled into each visit) but it is a very important step that is not written down anywhere. Apparently, the VA reps who review your medical records are mostly trained to hone in on sick call forms... not official medical records. The more of the sick call forms you have, the more accurate their summary of your medical records will be. Otherwise you have to do it and make sure your MDs know about it.
  • Also, be aware that these MDs doing the VA physicals are booked. Always. Expect a 5-6 week wait for your first appointment. This is where the planning ahead and allowing time for this stuff will really work in your favor.
  • Be warned that there WILL be extra appointments. While you are allowed to do these appointments while on terminal leave, the 2 or so appointments they first schedule you for aren't the last ones you'll be doing. Most of these will be scheduled only after the first round. Be sure to leave wiggle room in your schedule for these!


  • Get with housing and transportation. Here, housing told me in January that they were okay with only 2 weeks notice for retirements, which was awesome. Turns out that isn't the case (thankfully we have more than enough time to schedule it). However, since transportation requires the usuall 30 days, it is sort of a moot point. Your post might be different so check in to it early and often! Ask lots of questions and if something sounds hinky, ask again!

  • Be ready to be flexible with every aspect of this last PCS. Assuming that you have left yourself tons of time to complete this, it shouldn't be an issue. However, given how fickle things can be with theses processes, be sure to give yourself enough of a window. And, unlike some more traditional PCS scenarios (assuming you are moving to a location not near your current duty station and not near another military installation), plan to stay a night or two on post after you clear housing. This will allow you to get registered with the VA and tie up any loose ends that you may be used to tying up before moving out of housing.


  • Be mindful of the documents you will need in your new non-Army endeavours. Mainly your retirement orders, your DD-214, and any documentation supporting preferences given in hiring (Purple Heart, 30+% disability, etc). These documents can help you quite a bit, but anyone who is willing to help a Vet wants documentation, so have it in a handy place.
  • Did I mention something last time about getting organized? At this point, if you haven't done it, sit down and do it. You should have files for the medical records, files for the VA, files for clearing, and the ever-important file for all the papers and orders you need to get anything done on post.


  • This is one of those things that they give you pamphlets on and let you figure out the rest. Fun, right? I'll give you the run-down: Your spouse will automatically be removed from TriCare Prime when they get their new card and status change to "Retired", though they will still be covered under Standard. At this point, you get to choose what insurance you want, assuming you are not eligible for the VA insurance. TriCare Prime is really only going to do you any good if you end up living relatively close to a major military installation. The enrollment fee is cheap ($400 per family per year), and the co-pays are wonderfully awesome, but you are mostly limited to in-service providers (like a HMO) which are only going to be present in helpful enough numbers near a military base. But FYI- Prime Remote is no longer an option when you transition to retired status! TriCare Standard or Extra will likely serve you best if you are going to move somewhere less close to military medical care/military installations. This is still a pretty cheap option, but you will be required to pay a little bit more as a dependent than you used to (something like 5% more). Either way, you have to re-look at your insurance situation with a new set of eyes, be aware of your final location, costs and physician availability.

  • Be cognizant of the fact that you are paying for insurance out of pocket. When you get offered your next non-military job, be sure to keep this bargaining chip in mind. Most employers pay some or all of your enrollment fees and whanot. Be sure to let them know you won't be participating (unless it is way better/cheaper than TriCare) and see if they will pony up extra money for your salary or extra vacation days. This goes for you too spouses!!!

So, there you have it, the latest and greatest hits from the Tucker and Swiss Retirement Tour. I'll keep you all posted as things get crazier! And as always, let me know in the comments if there are other issues you have questions about!

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