A comparative study of the life satisfaction of early retirement military officers



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Texas A&M University


This study compared the life satisfaction of early retirement military officers with several comparison groups on the basis of Retirement Descriptive Index (RDI) scale scores. The RDI is a self-report instrument that assesses life satisfaction across four scales: Activities, Finances, Health, and People (associations). ??Early?? retirement from the military, after as few as 15 years of service, was possible between 1993 and 1999 under the Temporary Early Retirement Authority Program (TERA), enacted by Section 4403 of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 1993 to reduce post-Cold War U.S. military personnel strength. This was a departure from the traditional 20 to 30 year military career length referred to in this study as ??regular?? military retirement. A total of 57,693 personnel from the five military service branches, including 12,790 officers, retired early under this legislation. Previous research has revealed that many military retirees experienced adjustment difficulties during their post-retirement midlife military-to-civilian transition. A long-existing problem has been the inability to predict or prevent these adjustment difficulties. To examine one aspect of the adjustment of military retirees, the RDI was electronically administered via the internet to 122 early retirement military officers and 824 regular retirement military officers with retirement dates from the same period. RDI scale scores for the early retirement military officers were compared to those of the regular retirees. Additionally, comparisons were made with the RDI scale scores of other groups, including regular retirement military officers from previous studies, and early retirement civilians from a previous study. Analysis of RDI scale scores, using inferential statistical procedures including One-Way Analysis of Variance, chi-square tests of independence, and independent-samples t tests, revealed that early retirement military officers experienced slightly lower measures of life satisfaction in general than all comparison groups, and specifically experienced lower levels of satisfaction with their financial situations. Qualitative (anecdotal) data was included to complement the statistical analysis. Recommendations for research and practice were made regarding early retirement military officers.