Retired Marine Corps Major General Arnold Punaro, former Senate Armed Services Committee staff member, has voiced concerns about current retirement practices in the military. “The military pays some retirees for 60 years for 20 years of actual military service,” he has complained. He fears that as a result, retirement pay could eventually “eat . . . [the Department of Defense] alive.”1 Former Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel has concurred: “As they are currently structured, military compensation programs are unsustainable.”2
But many of those who retire after two decades have been forced out due to the DOD’s ceiling for years of service, which varies according to rank. Thus, an O-4 will generally retire after 20 years of commissioned service. Based on the typical ages of those beginning their military service as well as the general trend of increased life expectancies, the government can indeed expect to pay this individual for more than 40 years of retirement after 20 years of service.