Background: I spent almost 8 years in the US Navy as an Avionics Electronics Technician (Navy rate AT). Basically I worked on all the electrical systems on aircraft. I spent my first 4 years after basic training working on helicopters. I went on 4 deployments in those 4 years. My last 3.5 years I worked at a test and evaluation base. There I worked on all aircraft from helicopters to fighters. After seeing the retirement problems my supervisors were facing in those last 3.5 years, I decided to get out of the military. I was Honorably discharged in 2014, and have completed 1 year of school towards a STEM degree in Electrical Engineering.
Retirement: In my last 3.5 years, I watched as 7 sailors in my shop reached 16-17 years of service in the military (my shop consisted of about 100 sailors through that time, for reference). From this time frame they can sign the contract to enlist up to the 20 year mark. This as you know, guarantees a military pension. However, 5 of these 7 sailors were denied reenlistment through a program the Department of the Navy called "Perform to Serve" (PTS). This program would take sailors reenlisting in rates(jobs) that were over manned and evaluate them. The military spending cuts of 2013 were in full force and many were denied reenlistment. They were given the option to either change their job or be discharged and receive an involuntary severance package (usually a monetary sum around $15,000). Changing your job in the Navy requires a paygrade drop approximately 95% of the time. This can sometimes force a sailor out of service simply because they have limits on how many years of service you can have per rank and still stay in (called High Year Tenure). Also, since your retirement is based off your 3 highest years' pay, this loss of rank and pay often means the retirement you were expecting to receive will be lowered as well. A similar program was also instituted about 15 years ago, under a different name. The program back then compared your service record against everyone else in the same rate(job) and kicked out the lowest performing percent based on the government's needs. The new system however, Perform to Serve, compared all people requesting to reenlist in over manned jobs against all sailors who joined in the same year. For example, if I joined in 2006, I was compared to everyone else who joined in 2006. This could be a problem because if the Navy needed SEALS or Nuclear engineers badly in 2006, they would offer incentives to people to join in those fields. So if in 2006 they had 30% who were in these fields, then you would be automatically fall below these non-expendable assets. These 5 sailors who were denied to reenlist in their field had good records. 3 had just come back from Individual Augmentee service (temporary assignment working with the Army or Marines). This always looks good on a Navy record and often leads to an early promotion for sailors. The Perform to Serve program was started in 2013 and is no longer in effect, but expect that it will be implemented again when they need to cut military spending.
Summary: I understand it is a financially intelligent decision to cut off those close to retirement before you have to pay them for the rest of their lives. It spells huge savings for the government. But it also sucks seeing guys who have spent 16 years in the service get involuntarily separated. So if your clients are looking to join the military, I would advise them to go into the military as a non-expendable asset (special forces) or in a field that easily translates to the civilian workforce. (vehicle mechanic, welding, information technology, nuclear engineering, etc.) Thank you for your time. If you have any questions about Perform to Serve feel free to email me.
He also provides a link here detailing what he is talking about above.