Years ago, I was playing cards in Pahrump, Nv. Seated to my left was a Vietnam army veteran in a wheelchair. He had lost his legs in the war. We struck up a conversation and eventually he invited me to dinner. At the time I think I had been a cop for about 20 years and I mentioned that to him.
At some point prior to our parting company, he said "Thank you for your service." He caught me completely off guard- this man with no legs. In fact, I don't even think I returned the thank you. Some guy with no legs thanking me. Imagine that. I am humbled now as I recall that moment. I cannot tell you how many times I have thanked vets for their service. Many, many times, because of that lapse.
So a friend of mine sent me an article recently. It's about how the air force is shit canning pilots before they are able to retire. A trick that has been used by corporate America for decades. http://battleland.blogs.time.com/2012/01/03/air-force-firing-for-effect/
To be honest, I understand that the country is angry over government retirement packages. I think what strikes me over and over again about the "New America" is that whether it is private or public, employers simply do what is legal. They are not interested in doing what is right. That is a pathetically low bar to jump over.
It is interesting that 30 years ago, public service paid nothing. Our meager retirement is about all we had going for us. The Feds threw in health care for their employees. Today government jobs are the most attractive. Who knew that our retirement and health care would be so valuable? I couldn't have predicted that in 1982.
So what is minimally legal is often wrong. That's what pisses me off the most. The ethical and moral standards of this country, doing what is right, are no longer important. What can we get away with or what does the law allow...is the only standard that remains.
What would be wrong with offering pilots with 15 years service a couple of options? Buy out packages, pro-rated and reduced retirements, or allowing them to opt in for the remainder of time to get fully vested? Becoming instructors. Changing the rules for new recruits. There are all kinds of options.
For pilots, those were the original rules and the pretenses that induced them to sign up and then stay- If you liked the military you could retire in 20 years...well...unless they change the rules sometime in between.
Time and time again, it seems that the people who suffer the most are always the ones who do the work. The upper echelons of the military or politicians always seem to escape similar cuts but are more than willing and happy to apply them to subordinates.
You ever see a politician lose their legs? Nah me neither.