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Chris Sorrentino, a.k.a CombatCounselor, is a leader and expert in cognitive behavioral therapy. He combines 30 years of experience in psychology with the discipline from having served as a U.S. Air Force officer for 20 years, 4 of those in combat zones, retiring as a lieutenant colonel in 2005.

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Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Letter to the Editor, Air Force Times - HAGEL'S OPPORTUNITY (March 11, 2013)

I am assuming that an "editorial" is written by or for (in this case my guess would be Mr. Dorr) "the editor", Ms. Ianotta. In terms of JOINTNESS and BASE CLOSURES, I could not agree more. That is where our like-minded opinions end.
PEOPLE: Even though only 19% of the force stick around for retirement, I disagree with a strictly 401(k)-style retirement. We already have a 401(k)-style option in the Thrift Savings Plan, even if there are no matching contributions. A significant recruiting and retention tool is one of the few pensions still available in America today. Could there be a hybrid retirement, like the type proposed by several sources, where troops could qualify for reduced retirement at the ten year point, drawing the pension beginning at age 60? A combination of the two could help retention and provide a reasonable retirement for those who put their lives on the line for their country.
TOOTH TO TAIL RATIO: Are you assuming Afghanistan will end in 2014 and there will be no more war for the foreseeable future? Wishful thinking! A one-to-two ratio would never allow enough recovery time between deployments if at war, which between the instability in the Middle East, a nut at the helm in North Korea, and China spreading its wings and building aircraft carriers, is highly likely. Our forces are worn out and drastically reducing the force is a temporary solution to a long-term problem. We have seen the cycle over and over, so do not be naive.
EFFECTIVE USE OF THE NATIONAL GUARD AND RESERVE: Most would agree, particularly the Guard and Reserve, that they have been used VERY effectively over the past 20+ years. Probably TOO effectively. There is nothing more there to give if you think they are going to make up the difference for your "tooth to tale ratio". Bless you all!
HEALTHCARE: Is Air Force Times really going to go there? Are you seriously proposing that "those who can afford to pay more" pick-up the slack? We all made the same sacrifices and were promised the same benefits, so I think it is ABSURD to expect higher wage earners pay more for a benefit we were told was "free" and "for life" during recruitment. Maybe Ex-Secretary Panetta could pay back the $1 million in plane trips home during his SECDEF tenure (and only God knows how much he wasted BEFORE becoming Secretary). Maybe we could take all the money wasted on end-of-year "spend-downs" and plow it back into the budget EVERY YEAR. Maybe we could end government and contractor fraud, waste, and abuse instead of giving it lip service. I have seen enough money wasted on just one government contract (the contractor currently has a class action lawsuit also pending against them and an IG complaint from me) to fund Tricare for at least a few months ... ONE CONTRACT!
Air Force Times loses credibility with those kinds of shortsighted suggestions. Where is your loyalty? Who do you think pays your salary? Your readers, active-duty and retired military! Do you think your "suggestions" are popular with other readers?
Maybe you should stick to reporting the news rather than telling the new SECDEF how to run the show. I think he has much smarter, military-savy people on his staff than Military Times does.
Chris Sorrentino, LtCol, USAF (Ret) aka CombatCounselor

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