It's June and the Army Old Age clock is ticking faster for me. Without a waiver from the commanding general of the PA NAtional Guard, I will be a civilian exactly three years from yesterday. My discharge date is May 31, 2013. I will not be retired on that day. I am reliving my father's Army Career in many ways. He lost his pension when the age-in-grade law caused him to be mustered out with 19 years service. The Army retirement requires 20 years to get any benefits.
I will have 17 years in 2013. I would have to stay until I was 63 to get a retirement, at least as far as I understand the rules, and that would require three consecutive waivers.
But I knew that when I needed a waiver from a general officer to get in three years ago.
In the short term, I also have to decide what to do for the remaining three years. A public affairs officer in the Stryker brigade would like me to work in his office--he does not have a staff writer--but does not have an E5 slot. I am not at all interested in an E4 slot. The vast majority of people I deal with on a regular basis know there is some difference between a sergeant and a general, but both are in charge of soldiers, so it's not all that different.
For older people, Beetle Bailey cartoons may be part of their picture of Army ranks. The general and the sergeant both order Beetle around. How much different could they be?
So I want to stay a sergeant.
I have thought about trying to join an armor unit. It would be kind of cool to begin and end my odd Army career in a tank.