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Old-timers (including yours truly) can remember when San Diego was chock-full of retired military persons who learned how glorious the weather was when serving at one of the local bases. It's not so true now. In honor of Veterans Day tomorrow (November 11), WalletHub,a statistical aggregator that reports on metro areas and states, says San Diego ranks 24th among 100 metro areas as a good location for veterans.

It's easy to see why: cost of living is too high for average military retirement pay. WalletHub ranks the metro areas on "economic wellness." This includes housing affordability and cost of living, as well as percentage of military skill-related jobs, rate of veteran wage growth, percentage of veterans living below the poverty line, number of homeless veterans, and veteran-owned businesses per veteran population. By those metrics, San Diego ranks 72nd of the 100, offsetting its ranking of 7th in environment, health, and education.

Chula Vista comes in 15th overall, but, again, it's 57th in economic wellness.

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shirleyberan Nov. 10, 2014 @ 9:57 a.m.

Our Veterans get a lousy deal after how much they do for us.


Don Bauder Nov. 10, 2014 @ 10:18 a.m.

shirleyberan: Veterans get generous retirements after a relatively brief military career, but our care of injured military people is a disgrace. They are ours to take care of -- for life if necessary. But we are not following through. Best, Don Bauder


Anon92107 Nov. 10, 2014 @ 12:25 p.m.

Don, the greatest tragedy is that both republicans and democrats in Washington have betrayed those who risked their lives and bodies to protect American Democracy and the American Way of Life for far too many decades.

What we are really learning most of all from last week's election is that it really doesn't matter who won because all of the politicians in Washington have failed to protect American Democracy and the American Way of Life because of their imperious culture of greed and corruption.

No wonder the majority of We The People refuse to vote, it's really a revolution against Washington and they haven't figured it out yet.


CaptD Nov. 10, 2014 @ 1:43 p.m.

Anon92107 I agreed with most everything but the last part of your comment, I believe that the GOP, their Ultra Wealthy donors and their "owned" MSM have deliberately bored the majority of US voters so that only the dedicated GOP voters would take the time to vote.


Don Bauder Nov. 10, 2014 @ 3:03 p.m.

CaptD: According to the New York Times, 69 percent of the $216 million spent anonymously in the recent election went to Republicans. About 57 percent of the $51.4 million spent by super PACs, (those donors have to be disclosed), went to Democrats.

Generally, the disastrous Citizens United decision by the Supreme Court benefitted Republicans, as the court knew it would. Upshot: nothing can be done about this with Republicans in control. Best, Don Bauder


Don Bauder Nov. 10, 2014 @ 2:49 p.m.

Anon92107: I can't argue with your statement: both Republicans and Democrats have short-changed our military veterans -- particularly those who return injured. Best, Don Bauder


danfogel Nov. 10, 2014 @ 3:23 p.m.

don bauder, agree with the second part of your comment 100%. It is our responsibility to take care of our veterans, for as long as is necessary. Before I comment on the first part of your comment, T would like to ask you 2 questions. How do you define the term "generous retirement" and what do you consider a "relatively brief military career"?


Don Bauder Nov. 10, 2014 @ 8:11 p.m.

danfogel: Military personnel can retire after 20 years of duty. That means some can retire at 37 -- plenty of time to work another job for 30 years -- with skills learned in the military. Now, is the pay that generous? No, but the fringes (healthcare, use of low-cost military stores, etc.) are.

But a retired general has a much lower salary and less retirement pay and fringes than a Wall Street moneymaker or business CEO. The difference between a general's pay and the average military pay is far less wide than the difference between CEO pay and average worker pay (about 350 to 400 times). Best, Don Bauder


AlexClarke Nov. 11, 2014 @ 6:25 a.m.

Don, yes one can retire after 20 years but at 50% of base pay. If you stay for 30 the retirement goes to 90% of base pay. The retiree healthcare benefit is good but the retirement pay, at 20, is not a livable wage if you are an enlisted person. While on active duty there are many "add-ons" which disappear when you retire. Additionally, many companies who hire "after 20" retirees benefit from their experience, skill and training and also do not have to pay medical benefits.


Don Bauder Nov. 11, 2014 @ 8:13 a.m.

AlexClarke: When I served in the 1950s, several people I ran across had not been able to get a promotion to the next level, so they stepped down from officer to enlisted to serve out their 20 years and retire. I don't know if that is true any longer. Best, Don Bauder


danfogel Nov. 11, 2014 @ 8:15 a.m.

alexclarke, I believe it's 2.5 percent of pay per year of service, based on either your retirement pay grade or your highest 36 months of pay, depending upon when your enlistment date, so 30 yrs would be 75%.


Don Bauder Nov. 11, 2014 @ 11:56 a.m.

danfogel: Data on the amounts are available online. Best, Don Bauder


danfogel Nov. 11, 2014 @ 8:34 a.m.

don bauder, as I re-read your first comment, I realized that you are referring to total benefits, not just pay so. I agree, with the exception that 20 yrs is not a relatively brief military career, in terms of earning a pension.. BTW, the last stats I looked at, which were from 2012 I believe, showed that the average age of enlistment was right around 22 yrs and the average length of service was about 9 yrs for enlisted and 13 for officers. So yeah, in theory one could enlist, with parental approval, at 17 and earn a pension at 37.


Don Bauder Nov. 11, 2014 @ 11:57 a.m.

danfogel: I got the 37 off the web. Best, Don Bauder


danfogel Nov. 11, 2014 @ 1:11 p.m.

don bauder The minimum age for enlistment in the military is 17, with parental consent. With 20 yrs of service to earn a pension, as I said, in theory one could enlist at 17 and earn a pension at 37. Most of the information I use on military stats comes from the annual Demographics report, which is compiled and published by the DoD. I believe the most recent one available is for 2012.


Don Bauder Nov. 11, 2014 @ 2:48 p.m.

danfogel: It is very hard to compare military pay and benefits with non-military pay and benefits. Some of the military people are in danger most of their careers. So what should they be paid? On the other hand, I was a clerk-typist. Had I stayed 20 years as a clerk-typist far out of harm's way, I wouldn't have deserved anything. But I would have gotten it. Best, Don Bauder


danfogel Nov. 11, 2014 @ 6:36 p.m.

don bauder, Agreed. One of my neighbors in San Clemente is a perfect example. He's a few yrs older than I am, in his early 60's. He put in 30 in the Corps and retired around 2000. He was a GySgt, 1ST Marine Division out of Pendleton. In talking to him, he served in combat in pretty much every military conflict from Vietnam thru Desert Storm. I don't know what his exact pension is, but based on the charts available now, he would around $3500 a month. Not nearly enough for someone who did what he did, omho.


Don Bauder Nov. 11, 2014 @ 7:48 p.m.

danfogel: Yes, I would say he deserves more than $42,000 a year. Best, Don Bauder


jnojr Nov. 10, 2014 @ 1:10 p.m.


Anyone who cannot afford to live in San Diego should move. They'll be far better off where the cost of living is lower. I'm sorry, but there is no "right" or conferred benefit to live at the beach. Everyone wants to live here, and there is only so much buildable land... and only so much water. Low supply + high demand = high prices.

What, exactly, is the point of this article? All military pensions should double? Or only for retirees who live here but aren't happy? What happens when more decide to move here for the "San Diego bonus"? Who should pay? Me? Why, when I can't afford a lot of houses here either? I make a pretty good salary, but after taxes, saving, and meeting obligations I'm not living the high life. And I still have to show up to work every day for the next 25 years or more.


CaptD Nov. 10, 2014 @ 1:38 p.m.

jnojr Maybe you did not consider that if the COL in SD was lower for Vets (and everyone else), you too would also enjoy a better quality of life, living here!


Don Bauder Nov. 10, 2014 @ 2:54 p.m.

jnojr: Neither this article nor WalletHub said anything about raising military pensions. Retirees (except for the wealthy ones) would be better off living somewhere with a lower cost of living. The fact that you are not living the high life is probably one reason you can afford San Diego. Best, Don Bauder


Don Bauder Nov. 10, 2014 @ 3:52 p.m.

SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION TO TELL MILITARY PERSONNEL HOW TO AVOID GETTING SCAMMED. At 1 p.m. on November 19, at the Lowry Base Theater in Coronado, the federal Securities and Exchange Commission will put on a free seminar for military personnel and their families. Subjects: "Best practices for investing, potential predatory tactics to beware of, and resources that investors can utilize to keep them informed and aware."

The day before, November 18, the securities regulator will put on similar seminars at Camp Pendleton Theater, from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. to 2 p.m.

These are not open to the public, but during the week before Thanksgiving there will be similar seminars for seniors and minority communities in the San Diego area. Best, Don Bauder


Visduh Nov. 10, 2014 @ 5:11 p.m.

Despite these high costs, the county (especially the northern part) is loaded with military retirees. They take federal and state jobs as second careers that would otherwise go to younger people. While there may be cheaper places to live that are close to military bases, this area has it all for the servicemembers retiring from the Navy and Marines. Since many are getting paid well in their new civilian jobs and are receiving nice, inflation-adjusted retirement checks and free medical care, they ain't hurtin'. A retiree who depends upon the military retirement check for a steady income, having retired to some place like the peanut fields near Fort Rucker, Alabama, costs are far lower, but so are post-retirement salaries or wages.

San Diego County will be a very popular spot for retired military for the foreseeable future. It isn't as good a spot as it was thirty, forty or more years ago, but its allure is enough to keep a supply of folks retiring here and buying homes (and taking jobs.)


Don Bauder Nov. 10, 2014 @ 8:20 p.m.

Visduh: I didn't mean to say there are few retired military in the county. Of course, there are many -- but fewer on a percentage basis than there 40 or 50 years ago. Many military people retired 30 or 40 years ago and bought a house they are still living in. Their cost of living is not so high. The COL really hits the younger people who emerge from college loaded with debt and can't afford a home in San Diego.

I think it would be very difficult now for a young person to leave the military after 5 years at a middle or low-level rank, and have enough money to live a good life in San Diego. Best, Don Bauder


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