Like any profession of service, financial gain is a poor primary reason to pursue a military career. However, today's volatile and troubling combination of battered financial and equity markets have pushed economic security to the forefront of our political and private discussions. Although, to paraphrase an old joke, I decided not to make the Navy a career after 22 years of submarine service, it is an amazing comfort to see that not only is my retirement pay not going down next year, but is scheduled to increase 5.8 percent in 2009.
A little math is necessary to put the enduring financial and psychological value of a military pension into full perspective. In 2008, I received about $50,000 in retirement pay. Assuming the 5.8 percent cost-of-living allowance equals inflation, I would have needed a million dollar investment egg that earned 10.8 percent (5 percent for a "real" return of $50,000 plus 5.8 percent to keep up with inflation) to equal this financial outcome.