SITREP 006 - Getting ready for retirement

SITREP 006 - Getting ready for retirement

18 Series Bag Company                      SITREP 006             17 December 2021

Retirement isn’t the goal of every person in the military, hence the move towards a blended retirement system. Even if you are getting out after a five-year enlistment, you should consider executing an exfil plan while your canopy moves towards the point of impact. For those of you with a retirement glide path, save this and use it as your pathway to Margaritaville. Being methodical and planning your exfil from the military is important, with serious implications to your long game.

Transition Assistance Program (TAP)

The Congressionally mandated program that you must complete before leaving the military, consists of five classes. It’s easy and you can knock it out within your last 18 months. I did all the classes online.  I also chose to sit in on the VA benefits brief to better understand my VA claim.

Bottom line: Do it.

VA Claim Vs Disability
              Let me clear something up.  Your VA claim isn’t a disability claim. I think that guys and gals think poorly about the VA claim process because either they have seen people abuse it OR they don’t feel that they have a disability. Folks in the military get roughed up, there isn’t a question about that. The VA claim process is the mechanism that identifies injuries, or medical issues, that occurred during your military service. You WANT to document every single injury, no matter how insignificant, because in ten years when you go see your doctor about that nagging pain in your ankles, the cost of the medical treatment will be picked up by the VA (referred to as Service Connected) if you had it documented while you were in. You got roughed up while in the military, so get it documented because in twenty years when we’re all coughing up burn-pits, we all might need an inhaler. 

Bottom line: Call it what it is, a VA claim.

Retirement Seminars and Life Insurance

You might have noticed a lot of retirement seminars attempting to teach everyone about retirement (recent examples: OASIS, JANUS). I recently sat in the JANUS class, taught by LTC Paul Toolan.  I learned from JANUS that you must get started early, and for good reason (Toolan also said that you must embrace your inner E-4, which was incredibly easy for me to accept). Paul encouraged the class to immediately get term-life insurance before beginning their VA claim.  This is because if you’ve begun documenting your injuries, life insurance companies can see that you’ve documented the 2009 incident where you tripped at the Ballad North Defac, side-stepping the goofball whose M-9 was pointed at you from his shoulder holster. The other reason for life insurance is that my retirement benefits are, for the most part, only good if I am alive. I owe it to my wife to provide for her, even in death. Paul’s class was outstanding and if you get a chance to attend a JANUS seminar, take advantage of it and go!

 Bottom line: Absorb as much as you can from these groups, they are intended to help you.

I immediately inquired about life insurance from a reputable military provider, the American Armed Forces Mutual Aid Association (AAFMAA.COM). Problem is, I took a sleep study a couple of years ago simply to increase the quality of my sleep. Unbeknownst to me, being prescribed an APAP/CPAP could be a disqualifier.  Why didn’t anyone tell me that? I didn’t know that doing a sleep study and being prescribed an (APAP or CPAP) would disqualify me from getting term life insurance.

The counselor, that everyone says is risk-free, could indicate that a few of you have PTSD. Life insurance companies don’t want to take the risk on a guy who has an APAP and/or PTSD, each being a disqualifier. I just figured out that being proactive might impact my ability to get life insurance. 

Bottom Line: Get life insurance at least 2-3 years out.


Get a pre-clear memo signed by an O-4 or above.  A pre-clear memo allows you to schedule an early turn-in with CIF to get that useless mandatory issue gone, freeing up valuable time before just getting out. I should have done this when I PCS’d to Carson, six years ago. 

Career Skills Program (CSP)

Commonly referred to as the ‘internship’, the CSP is a command-approved, unpaid internship with a company of your choice. It’s on you to find the company and convince them that your barrel chest would be a great fit for their company. I recently signed on with Beyond SOF (, run by a fellow SF brother. I’m thankful that he took me on, but also for his ongoing commitment to helping guys transition from the Military. I pledge to do the same when 18 Series Bag Company is on its feet.    

Bottom Line: Plan the hell out of this.

Total and permanent and Chapter 35
              My generation of buddy’s average between five and twelve combat rotations.  Tying injuries from Iraq and Afghanistan to your VA claim goes a long way to making your VA claim combat-related. This could make most of your retirement tax-free. Did you know that if your claim is approved at total and permanent, your children can go to a state college tuition-free? Don’t just take my word for it, google Chapter 35 VA benefits. Guys I know think it’s a pride or ego issue because folks have called it a disability claim, it’s not, it’s a VA rating. Don’t let that guy who puts a sign on his lawn, asking others to be considerate and keep loud noises down during July 4th  fireworks, dictate what you think about your future VA claim.   

              I chose to do a paid service before choosing a free Veteran VSO. VSOs are filled with great Americans doing great things. What I’ve learned from twenty years in the military is that if it’s free, it’s probably not that good like anything in the military. I hired someone who makes most Type A’s look like Beta’s. I’m happy to pay. I’ve met with my rep, Tennille Wren, multiple times to chart out my path towards retirement. As per SOP, Tennille spoke slowly and wrote in big letters for me, describing in detail my exact steps. Like most of you reading this, I am a terrible advocate for myself. That’s why I have Tennille. I know a couple of you reading this are working with Tennille, I know that you feel the same. 
              It is a necessity that I retire correctly. I’ve deployed more than most, but not as much as others. My family has shouldered the burden of me being gone. I feel that it is simply out of respect for them that I will get this process right. This is what we do, we pass on lessons learned so that you can get it right too. This is the long game.  Merry Christmas everyone! 

To the Regiment’s latest recipient of the Medal of Honor, and great dude, congrats Earl.

Always forward - Matt

Next SITREP - The digital environment has changed our way of life. 

1 comment

  • Gary C

    Great info, couldn’t agree with you more on documenting everything when it comes to medical it saves a whole lot of headaches and issues when it comes to filing a claim. If something already happened and you didn’t get it documented reach out to someone that was there when it happened. They can write a “buddy statement” that is considered lay evidence and will help your cause whether it is an initial rating or an increase. Glad you mentioned CH35 benefits, not many people are aware of this and the only thing I would add is to look into state benefits. Colorado gives you a property tax break if you are 100% P&T just need to file a few forms with your county assessor.
    Great info Matt keep it up!

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