The writer of the Jan. 7 letter “Pension plans” apparently has never put on a military uniform.
Yes, a person can put in 20 years and retire with a pension for life. But during that 20 years, a military person gets low pay compared with civilians and is on call 24/7. There is no such thing as an eight-hour shift and then go home. They go when told.
Coast Guard members are saving lives in cold Arctic waters and rescuing ships in the Antarctic and hurricane victims in New Orleans. Some U.S. Navy and Marine Corps members are away from their families nine months or longer. Army and National Guard personnel are deployed 12 to 15 months in enemy territory fighting a war or preventing one, not just one time but several times in their military careers. Air Force personnel travel the globe watching a ready light, refueling planes, flying into combat zones. Working up the pay grade can take 15 years. Many low-ranked personnel are on food stamps.
Until someone walks in a pair of military shoes for 20 years, he will never understand the hardships we have been through. We have put our lives on the line many times, and we are not “entitled” to a pension. We earned it the hard way.
U.S. Coast Guard (Retired)