Peter M. Bimonte: Veterans deserve pensions

January 14, 2014 

Regarding the Jan. 7 letter “Pension plans”: I am a retired USMC combat veteran of the Gulf War, Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom. I hope my perspective can shed some light on the letter-writer’s misconception of what this country’s career warriors should receive after 20 years of service in uniform and answer his two questions.

First, “Isn’t a pension after 20 years of service very generous? Can we really afford this over the long term?” Answer: Let’s look at an example of retirement pay for an average military career. Since military members are eligible for retirement benefits at 20 years, I will use a reasonable rank and service time for my examples. It is reasonable to assume that the average enlisted member will be able to retire at 20 years having achieved the rank of E-7 and that the average officer should be able to retire at 20 years at the rank of O-5 (I am aiming on the conservative side because many people choose to serve longer than 20 years, earning an extra 2.5 percent to 3.5 percent on their retirement pay per additional service year).

The base pay for these ranks in 2009 was:

• E-7 monthly: $3,995.40

• E-7 annually: $47,944.80

• O-5 monthly: $7,697.40

• O-5 annually: $92,368.80

Most retirees at 20 years will receive 50 percent of their base pay, which would equal the following amounts:

• E-7 Monthly: $1,997.20

• E-7 Annually: $23,972.40

• O-5 Monthly: $3,848.70

• O-5 Annually: $46,184.40

Nobody’s getting rich.

As far as affording to do this “over the long term,” can we afford not to do this? Strangely enough, on the same date of the letter, there was a news story “$18B price put on effort to block carp” about the most effective methods of keeping carp from invading the Great Lakes via Chicago’s web of waterways. Where is the public “outrage” over that?

Comparing a military career of 20 years with a 20-year career in the private sector is comparing apples to oranges. Not taking anything away from a career spent doing any particular job, but consider this: By the time a career in the military is over, many of us are broken. I’m talking physically and/or mentally. I can only assume the writer has never served in the military. I will also assume that he had the opportunity to join the service but chose not to. No harm there in my book. The Marine Corps has a saying, “The few, the proud.” Not everyone can be a Marine.

His final comment was, “Most everyone who is able does work from age 42 through to age 62 or older.” Unfortunately, for my service-connected disabled brothers and sisters out there, some cannot. Instead, they find themselves at the mercy of the VA claims process with some waiting years to get “fair and just compensation.”

I ask that the writer reconsider his justification for suggesting any retired service member of any branch of service should wait to receive retirement pay.

Peter M. Bimonte

USMC (Retired)


The length limit was waived for a fuller response.

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