Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Because Navy Life Isn't Stressful Enough...

My husband and I have a subscription to the Navy Times. I get it once a week so between that and my membership to the Submarine Wives Club, I stay relatively informed. With all of the spending cuts going around in this country I figured that the defense department needed to trim some of their spending. They take up a huge, if not the biggest, portion of our budget and I absolutely agree that cuts need to be made. I wasn't expecting that the first thing they would go after was our retirement. Let me first start out by stating that the DOD (Department of Defense for those civilians who read this and are not familiar with the bizillion acronyms that the military uses) have come up with this proposal; it is not a Democrat or Republican thing. Basically, they are proposing an immediate overhaul to military retirement and will only partially grandfather those who are serving now into the old system. My husband is at the 12-year point in his career. Under the current retirement system we would get half of his base pay/month for the rest of his life if he retires at 20 years. If you serve beyond 20 years you get a small percentage increase every to your retirement every year beyond twenty. What they are now proposing is that someone who has served 10-15 years like my husband, and stays in until 20 years will receive 25% of the old retirement plan. The military would also place money into a TSP (thrift savings plan-we already have one of's like a 401k/IRA) that we wouldn't be able to draw on until age 60-ish.

Um...what? This was my first reaction, shortly followed by tears and rage. How dare they compare us to the private sector! My husband has served his country for the past 12 years and the only reason we stayed in past the 10-year mark was for retirement benefits. Every year, when things get rough (which happens often), we always look at each other and say that we only have x amount of years left and then things will get better. Then we can truly live our lives together. We have plans. We plan to build a dream house someday and to have a comfortable life. I feel like those plans are going to unravel.

This lifestyle cannot be compared to anything in the civilian sector (except for maybe contractors that work in war zones). My husband is gone often. Last year, I think he was home for a total of three months...most likely less. I have to worry about him chasing after Russian submarines and knowing that if something goes wrong under the ocean, they can't exactly swim to the surface. I can't imagine what other military wives feel whose husbands are on the front lines.

Speaking of military wives, our husbands' retirement is our retirement too. Many of us sacrifice having careers, getting an education, etc. because we move so often and become single parents. I'm lucky that my husband's second sea tour is five years long. Had he been promoted or if things change, we could have easily had to move. I worry all the time about moving and if I can find a teaching position because no one likes to hire someone that moves every few years.

There are so many other places in the defense department where cuts can be made. We can bring our troops home and stop getting involved in wars that are draining our coffers. The government can start making its own parts needed by the military. That would create civilian jobs and save them money. I hear, all the time, from my brother (Air Force) and husband that the private companies who make the parts that the military uses charge an insane amount of money. Parts that cost about $4 to make are being sold for over $100. There are plenty of other places to save money in the military. I implore our leaders to look there first before attacking retirement.

If this proposal passes, which I'm not entirely sure that it will, current service members should be grandfathered in to what they were promised. Anything else would be completely unfair and a breach of contract. I'm pretty sure that some high profile lawyers would love to take on a case like this pro bono. Write to your elected officials and tell them how you feel. If that doesn't work, I'll be more than happy to drive a bunch of angry military wives down to D.C. :)

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Here We Go Again

So I know that I suck at life and never update. I kind of feel like I don't need to when most of the people who regularly check in on here are also my friends on facebook. Nevertheless, with my husband gone for the first time in almost 8 months, I think it's time to start going at it again. I attempted to give my blog a makeover, but finding/creating blog templates is not easy. Alas, this was the best that I could do. I tried to format the header so a picture of us would be in the frame, but blogger was being pissy and wouldn't let me upload it.
Things are moving along in the West household. We had a wonderful summer, full of adventures! After missing our favorite music event for the past 3 years, we finally made it back to Mountain Jam. It was four, fun-filled days of music, camping and meeting new people. We even got to zipline down the mountain :)
Since the boat cannot adhere to any sort of schedule, my plan to take Jimmy to a concert at Red Rocks was cancelled. Instead, we went to Ireland! We spent a week driving around and seeing whatever our little hearts desired :) It was definitely a wonderful vacation and will be hard to top.
We are still trying to conceive a child. I started seeing a reproductive endocrinologist at Yale Fertility Center. He has me on 50 mg of clomid (even though I ovulate on my own). It didn't work last month so this month I decided to be a little more aggressive and had two IUIs (intra-uterine insemination). We weren't sure if Jimmy would be home for ovulation this cycle so we had his swimmers frozen. I then went in and had them stick a catheter into my uterus and inject his thawed little dudes. I'm grateful that it didn't hurt, but am not happy that we shelled out $1400 for it. The wonderful military insurance known as Tricare does not pay for artificial insemination. It's really expensive and if we do in-vitro, we are looking at shelling out around 12k. I can't do that until I'm done student teaching so we are looking at around January if I don't get pregnant before then.
It's exhausting. I see people all around me get pregnant at the drop of a hat and I can't. There is no medical reason why I shouldn't get pregnant, which makes it that much more frustrating. The absolute worst is having people tell you to just relax. I have one friend who I can't talk to about it anymore because she repeatedly tells me to stop stressing about it. I'm not in school, just got back from a great vacation and have had my husband home for 8 months. How much more relaxed am I supposed to be?
On a better note I'm 40 lbs. lighter than I was in February and I start student teaching in a few weeks. I'm really excited that this is the last thing that I have to do before I can start my teaching career. I can't wait to work...seriously.
I'm going to try my best to post more often, but don't hold your breath!