small girl holds american flag at parade

Guest Blog: Recipe for a Retirement Ceremony

Blogger Biography: Cheryle is a 10-year military spouse who has lived away from her husband longer than they’ve been under the same roof. Now that they are transitioning into the retirement stage, a whole new adventure has begun. There will soon be more time to spend at the lake, with their three children and their first grandchild. Retirement doesn’t mean you leave the military family behind because once you are a part of the military family, you are always family. Her husband’s military civilian job will keep them close to the family long after retirement.

Guest Blogger Cheryle

In learning to cook, the first thing I grasped was the concept of following a recipe. If I mixed the right ingredients I could produce a tasty creation I was proud to share. However, this did not happen on my first attempt. It is the same concept for retirement. Each ingredient (step) of a career culminates to a final moment you are proud to share – the retirement ceremony.

For us, there was nothing conventional about our journey to retirement. Amidst all the twists and turns we experienced, you can still see the principal ingredients (steps) that helped create our journey’s end.

First came the decision of when to retire. While we were struggling with this decision and waiting for the promotion board results, my husband was asked to join a retirement ceremony in Texas, where he spent most of his career.

Typical of our luck, the promotion results were delayed and we had to decide about participating in the Texas ceremony. So, after nearly three decades of serving his country, my husband decided it was time to pass the torch to a new generation.

Next on our agenda was to coordinate flights and hotel rooms and head to Texas! The weekend celebration included visiting tourist attractions, attending a memorable ceremony and hosting a lovely reception. We couldn’t have asked for a better way to end his military career.

Now fade to black…open curtains to a new scene. We are back in Michigan with the retirement glow still on our cheeks and my husband is in his office when the phone rings. Shine the spotlight on him (audience goes silent).

His end of the phone conversation goes something like this…“No, I haven’t seen it…wait, let me open it” (he opens an email). “You have got to be kidding me …”

Ok, maybe I can’t print his exact words. The email contained the promotion board results, and my husband was asked if he would accept the promotion in lieu of retiring. Only a select group of people end their careers in this position. It was an easy decision.

For a brief moment I thought of the money spent on the retirement dinner, plane tickets and hotel rooms for what is now called “the retirement that didn’t stick.” None of that mattered; I was proud of him and glad to be back!!! I love being an integral part of the military life just as much as my husband. Did I mention they now call him the Favre of retirements?

After two more years of mentoring those who will follow his lead, my husband dropped his retirement papers…again…inspiring more jokes about whether it would actually happen.

Now that we were planning a second retirement ceremony, we wanted to find a way to keep the cost down and still create a totally different experience. The following tips helped us cut expenses and create a memorable experience:

  • Share your ceremony and reception with other service members.  This means you can divide the cost for huge savings.
  • Find a location that caters to the military and offers a discount. (The hall rental was discounted from the catering cost.)
  • Find a friend or service member to take photographs to alleviate hiring a professional.
  • Get creative.  My husband and his father made the shadow boxes. This saved money and they enjoyed being in the woodshop together.
  • Look for discount coupons to make a hard cover book of the retirement ceremony. I included many pictures and significant military poems. It was a great way to commemorate the occasion.
  • Gather pictures depicting a sample of each member’s military career and make a presentation to play during the reception.
  • Start traditions.  We had each military son pass the flag to his father. Getting a picture of son saluting father was priceless.

These are just a few suggestions to get you started, but a wealth of knowledge can be attained by speaking with current retirees or researching the Internet. Your ceremony can be customized to fit your budget.

I’m still in awe over every moment of this final ceremony. The elegant hall, the touching speeches and friends that gathered made THIS ceremony the perfect beginning of his retirement.

Now, if you think our final journey went without a hitch, think again. Later, we were informed that an incorrect date would delay his retirement an extra month. The jokes began again, saying Favre would never retire. Eventually, the date arrived and now our transition into the life of retirement has begun.

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1 Comment

  • Donna Sutton says:

    Thanks for sharing Cheryl! What an experience and what a life! We wish you both well as you journey down this long road of retirement. Dick and I have been retired for over 10 years, can’t believe it. I can say from experience I’m really not enchanted with this “thing” called retirement, I would prefer to still be I the work force. Hugs and Best Wishes, ds