Reservists have longer life expectancy, study shows

You know the scenario: A sergeant major retires after 30-plus years’ active service and is dead within six months. We wonder, “The downside of retirement?”

There might be definitive findings in this area. DoD has determined some active duty retirees appear to have a significantly shorter life expectancy than their reserve counterparts.

As reported by Tom Philpott, DoD actuaries have found that for those over 60 years of age, the active duty enlisted retiree mortality rate is 20 to 25 percent higher than their reserve counterparts. Officers kick at a rate 10 percent greater when compared with their reserve counterparts. Though the differences have yet to be studied, defense officials speculate the stress associated with past wars, a lifetime of moves, the constant quest to stay in shape, repeated upheaval in health care, and pastimes like smoking and alcohol consumption are contributing factors.

The actual numbers themselves seem to be small, with spreads of two years or so, but according to the actuary crowd, those two years are a very big deal. Life expectancies are listed at the end of the 282-page report

These findings are so significant that the presidentially appointed DoD Retirement Board of Actuaries has recommended it use two mortality rates when determining retirement cost projections.

The actuaries looked at records from mid-1970s forward and accounted for gender differencesThey excluded disabled retirees. Defense officials are wondering if the operational stressors now experienced by reservists will impact their life expectancy after age 60.

Despite the bad news, officials also found, in general, all retired officers and retired reserve enlisted members outlive their civilian counterparts.

Take those findings to your next retirement party.

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