Monday, June 10, 2013

A little spat about next year...

My husband and I are usually remarkably harmonious.  We almost never have disagreements and when we do have "fights", they are generally ridiculously civil.  On occasion, I get irritated with him, not necessarily because of things he does, but because decisions he made in the past-- before we even knew each other-- affect both of us today.  Or something comes to light that throws a wrench in my own plans for my life.  That's kind of what happened last night.

My husband has to retire from the Army next year.  He has held a commission since 1984 and he's simply about to run out of time.  This is a fact, and I've known about it for years, so I'm trying to be ready for it.  He would have had to retire last year, had he not been selected to the list that made him eligible for promotion to colonel back in 2010.  He won't be promoted, though, because that would require the powers-that-be to find him a colonel's job.  They weren't able to do that in time for him to be promoted before he must retire.

So... my husband had led me to believe that he would be retiring around October 1, 2014, which is a little over a year from now.  We had been talking about taking one last good trip before he leaves the Army and vacation time is less available and funds less stable.  The Army is pretty liberal about vacation in some jobs.  There's no way my husband could actually use all the leave he has accrued because he can't be away from the office for that long.  But he can get away for a couple of weeks and that's reasonable for trips to Europe or other places that are kind of far away.

Last night, I was thinking about SeaDream's offer to let us do another open booking and lock in a 15% discount.  I didn't do a pre-booking onboard because we don't know what the future holds and pre-booking requires a hefty down payment.  I also have some debt I want to retire.  Normally, if you don't pre-book onboard, you lose the opportunity.  But SeaDream sent us an email last week offering to let us take advantage of pre-booking until the 15th of this month.  We have other trips we're interested in doing, so I was leaning against doing it... but then I thought about it and realized that the booking doesn't expire, so I started wavering and looking at trips we could do next year with SeaDream.

I mentioned a week-long Black Sea cruise that goes from late August until September 6th.  It's affordable for us in our current situation and the timing seemed perfect, based on when my husband had told me he was going to retire.  But then when I mentioned the Black Sea trip he said, "Well, I might be working then."

I was confused, since he had led me to believe that he would be on permanent leave during that time period-- using up his surplus vacation days.

My husband then explained that the powers-that-be were telling him his time would be up in July instead of October, because when he temporarily got out of the Army back in the 1990s, he was actually put on IRR status (individual ready reserve) status, which apparently counts toward his time as a commissioned officer.  Worse, he was apparently unaware that he was on IRR status, which again, boggles my mind since it was his career and it's not like he was earning a paycheck during that time.  My husband got out of the Army, mainly because his ex wife wanted him to and, at the time, it didn't look like he was going to be successful in the Army, mainly because his ex wife had convinced him that he wouldn't... and had done her best to tear him down and sabotage his efforts to succeed.  Four years later, as their marriage crumbled, he decided of his own accord to get back in the Army.  His career took off and he's done quite well.  But his decision to get out during the 90s is now affecting both of us in several annoying ways.

Then I realized that we are due in Texas August 5th, and if he has to retire in July, that means we will be making this big move for a job that will be for less than a year.  Since this is move #5 in six years and there's no guarantee someone will hire him when he's done, it occurred to me that we might have to move yet again a year from now.  And that would involve more time and money and upheaval.  And he was just informing me of this now, less than two months before we have to move, so it's not like I had anything to say about this move and how impractical it might end up being.  My thoughts of planning a trip immediately dissipated.

Now, I am pretty certain that no matter what happens with the timing of my husband's retirement, he will be able to find a job in San Antonio.  The military presence is huge there and he has done very well and made plenty of contacts.  We are probably going to be better off in Texas than North Carolina.  Hell, maybe even I could get back into the work force in Texas and put my expensive and extensive education to use again.  I guess what annoyed me the most about this situation was that what my husband was telling me felt like a bombshell.  Yes, I'm talking about three months or so, but that's three months of stable employment and time to plan for the next life phase.  And those three months would have meant that we didn't move to Texas for a job that will end in less than a year. 

We had a very rational discussion and my husband acknowledged that his career has pretty much required me to "come along for the ride".  For the most part, it really hasn't been a bad experience for me.  I have a comfortable life and can devote my time to things I enjoy.  But as someone with a functioning brain and a conscience, not having a say in when and where we move is frustrating.  And then, after all of that, the Army pretty much dumps you.  My husband will have retirement pay and could be subject to recall up until age 70 if the Army needed him for any reason.  But otherwise, he's on his own.  

My husband actually got emotional talking to me about this, explaining that he knew that his career is often hard on me.  The truth is, I've had it better and easier than many military wives have.  My husband has only deployed once and that was only for six months.  I have not had to endure having him gone for years.  While we have been jerked around a bit, I haven't had to deal with my husband's orders suddenly changing at the very last minute, as some spouses have.  We don't have kids that are getting jerked all over the place, nor do I have a career that is suffering because of moves since I opted out of the work force.  Moreover, while we're nowhere near wealthy, we've been able to enjoy a nice lifestyle and have gotten to see some of the world.  I am not upset with him for being in the Army.  I was upset last night because I felt like I wasn't being kept in the loop about this big transition that looms in the future. I feel like I have no control over my life.  

Anyway, my husband said that while he's in Indiana this week on business, he is going to do some networking with people who are in San Antonio who will also be in Indiana this week.  And when he gets back from Indiana, he is going to have a chat with the assignments person and remind them that Army regulations require not doing a permanent change of station for a job that is less than a year.  Had he known about this retirement timing snafu, he would not have taken the job in San Antonio.  People don't retire mid-month, so that would mean that he'd likely end up officially finishing on September 1, 2014.  That's probably what will ultimately end up happening.  And since he will either have to use up his leave or get paid for the days, it really means he would probably be done in July 2014... which still means less than a year on the job.  I sure hope he's able to hit the ground running and do well.  I'd like to see him leave the Army on a strong note.

I really would like to do another big trip if we can manage it.  I don't think the opportunities to travel will be as good once my husband is out of the Army.  But if circumstances don't allow us to travel, that will be okay.  We've been very fortunate the last few years, getting to do what we've gotten to do.  I know it sounds ridiculous to be upset about this when there are a lot of people who are out of work.  I guess I'd just like to have more of an idea of what's coming up so I can help make plans.  What I want is to be kept abreast of things that affect my life so I can prepare myself accordingly.  


  1. My mom's dad was in the Air Force, and all her brother were or are in the Air Force, so I vaguely know of what you speak. Yes, the military jerks people all over the place at times.

  2. Yeah, they do... and I did expect that when we got married. But it would be nice if they didn't do that less than a year before retirement. It's partly my husband's fault, though. He should have been more on the ball about some things.

  3. Still, the Army could've handled he situation with more humanity in mind.

    1. Well yeah, I guess they could have. Like I said, I think Texas will ultimately be good. But in the meantime, it's a pain. We had been talking about doing a retirement trip for years, but every time we move, it costs us money and we won't really have much time to stabilize before he has to find another job. I shouldn't complain, I guess. We have done some awesome traveling over the past few years... more than many people ever dream of doing.

      We'll see what happens. Our "spats" are really pretty laughable. I spent most of my young years fighting with family members. It's so nice to be married to someone who doesn't fight with me.


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