Posted on Oct 25, 2014
SFC Matthew Parker
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In 2011 after 20+ years of service I retired. That's not unusual, it’s a simple process done all the time.

But I was assigned to a University ROTC position, and on a University I didn't serve in a "conventional unit" or serve on a post to speak of. So when it was my time I asked to retire from Ft. Meade where I had some family. The other option was Ft. Knox where my career had started, and I didn't think I was ready to say good bye from where it had all started.

What I found on Ft. Meade was not being from Ft. Meade the transition office gave the impression that they could have cared less about my retirement. I was never informed of, or offered an opportunity to attend a retirement ceremony, nor did they ask if I had received my last NCOER or award.

And of course being in an ROTC assignment I never cleared post or had those last few days to prepare for that last day in the Army. As a result, on my last day I walked into retirement services, was handed a piece of paper and shown the door. No flag, no pin, nothing.

It was over, 20+ years of service was gone in a flash and my ID card was blue. The 45 minute drive home was lonely and depressing because there was no tomorrow. I had no orders, I didn't need to in-process my next assignment, I was done. So I took off my uniform for the last time and didn't know what to do with it. It hung in the closet, the belt still in the loops and ready to be worn again for a year.

My retirement experience was bitter and still bothers me to this day. So take my advice, if you’re preparing to retire, go to the retirement ceremony, and demand to attend if they have one. Listen as they read off your assignments and decorations, remember the soldiers you served with and if you can, reach out to them and thank them. Remember the places you visited and where you served, and shake every outstretched hand from peers wishing you well, and thank them for their service.

Go to PT your final week, enjoy the moment of being on the PT field and think back to all the PT tests you have taken, all the miles you have run, the cadence you sang. Go to the chow hall for one last time, eat around soldiers and really look at them, how did they get so young, or did they, you could be older.

Take time cleaning out the office, locker or turning in your equipment, clean your weapon and mask that last time and sign that last 2404 in big bold writing. Have the next soldier who gets your weapon ask who was this guy?

But above all, mentally prepare for that last day. Try to retire on a Friday, use the weekend to cushion the transition.

Now your retirement may be for different reasons, you want to retire, you have big plans to be with family or travel, a new job awaits you, and those are great.

But don't skip the ceremony and just disappear. Enjoy the moment and thank you for your service.
Posted in these groups: Retirement_logo Retirement
Edited 2 y ago
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Responses: 20
SFC Psychological Operations Specialist
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Some of the best reading I have read in a long time. Touching moment that puts a lot in perspective. I think I am considered "over the hill" when you pass the 10 year mark and considered a coast ride downhill. I feel it will be bittersweet when my last day in uniform comes. This is the dream job for me; I signed up as a sophomore in high school. This is all I ever wanted to do. To walk away from this job may be one of the most difficult things I will have to face. But all good things must come to an end I suppose.
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SFC Psychological Operations Specialist
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SFC Willliam Laws, I truly understand that ideal. I love this job, I wouldn't continue if I truly did not like it. I am appreciative that household 6 understands that as well. It gets difficult at times but if it were easy everyone would do it. We shall she what happens once I get to 20 years (hoping I pass on selection for SFC).
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SSG Cpn Section Sergeant
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5 y
Fortunately It doesn't seem as if anyone here is tracking a retirememnt ceremony for me to attend. 25ID will not cover anyone from my unit. So I asked and so far no real answer yet.
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MAJ Armored Combat Command Commander
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I was so burnt out that I just grabbed the flag in a box and DD214 and never looked back.
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SGT Richard H.
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Edited 7 y ago
Wow, reading this kind of touched me, even though I'm not a retiree. I got out after nine years, but my intent was to serve for a career. I was a SGT (P) at the time, and the only barrier to SSG was remaining TIS. I chose to get out, because at the time it came down to a choice: I was going to be a family man or a military man. Yes, I knew you could be both, but in my case, I had just been to SFAS, and upon reenlisting, would be off to the Q-course....and my (then) fiance had already told me that having grown up an Infantry Officer's "Army brat" she didn't have it in her to be an Army wife...I knew this would go double for being an SF wife....so, I ETS'd.

Many years later, I still wonder what would have been....I still think back and KNOW that not one work day since leaving the Army I loved has meant anything to anyone, except bottom-line dollars.

But I have a great wife and a daughter. To them it's meant something, and because of that, it's meant something to me. So I man up and don't cry over what could have been.

Except on November 18th, 2008. That would have been my retirement date. That day, I cried a little.
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