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Using Rank on Retirement

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Using Rank on Retirement

Old 20th Jan 2021, 11:50
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Using Rank on Retirement

From Sir Humphrey - should start an interesting thread......


Ranking It in? Should the Military Retain Their Rank Titles on Retirement?

....The risk is that the public understanding of defence becomes linked to images of middle aged men with funny job titles and a certain florid complexion getting angry about things they don’t understand, and wondering what on earth the MOD is playing at. It runs the risk of inadvertently politicising the military by dragging them in when it is not entirely clear to the audience that your interviewee no longer has credible access or relevance.

There is a fundamental question about the act of letting go, and moving on with life. The wearing of uniform is a powerful part of ones life and can shape behaviours and actions for decades afterwards. Many people do find it hard to let go, used to holding a certain status in life and then seeing it snatched from them, they cling to their titles in a way that is both sad, but understandable.

Where this becomes uncomfortable is when you see people wearing their rank in civvy street – be it working as a civil servant and expecting people to brace up because you were formerly a full colonel, or by those in uniform assuming that those who have left don’t lose their position in the system. The author was once verbally bollocked by a serving individual for ‘failing to brace up’ as the then First Sea Lord walked past him while he was deep in conversation with someone.

He pointed out that he was actually a civilian, to which the response was ‘yes well you’re ex-military so you should know better’.Apparently his retort of ‘well I’m an ex-boy scout, but you don’t see me going dib dib dib, dob, dob, dob all the time’ wasn’t considered helpful......

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Old 20th Jan 2021, 12:02
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I insist that people don't call me Sarge. I'm one of the little guys now.

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Old 20th Jan 2021, 12:30
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Quite evidently the author is underemployed and overcompensated if he can afford to spend time and effort writing about this.

Oh, he is a civil servant!
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Old 20th Jan 2021, 12:41
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I might suggest that 'rank' is a title for which one has worked hard to attain and, hopefully, fully merit and is/was conferred by dint of your Commission granted to you by the Monarch. Upon leaving the Services, there is a hint that you are no longer serving by the addition (in written form) of 'retd' after your rank.

Would you expect a doctor to rescind his hard-earned title upon retirement? I think not.

If your drinking pals down at the local hostelry like to shout 'Evening Colonel' when you walk in - what harm is there in that? Expectation that the entire room to comes to attention is another matter which might need counseling to moderate.

It might also come down to personal standards and respect. Some 40 plus years after leaving school, there is no way I could return to a school reunion and not call any of the surviving teachers by their christian names.
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Old 20th Jan 2021, 13:00
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Of course retired Officers using their (old) rank to leverage "Business Development" opportunities, or pontificating on stuff they have no idea about is perfectly fine...

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Old 20th Jan 2021, 13:21
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Ignoring the VSOs in business angle it does seem to be a peculiarly army thing - going into the pub and asking is the Squadron Leader here? would be met with blank looks.

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Old 20th Jan 2021, 13:23
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After a couple of decades of RAF service I decided that was enough and took my option to leave. Some years later I was persuaded to become an RAF VR(T) Officer to fly cadets at an air experience unit. However, it took so long to get into the system that when I was called forward Id just experienced a major change in personal employment circumstances and soon realised I could no longer guarantee time off to fulfil my RAF duties. I was working on a very demanding flying roster with infinite changes and had to withdraw my services from the RAF (resulting in a bit of a fallout with the squadron boss). So I might be one of a small minority who has, in effect, resigned from RAF service twice.

I have most definitely never used my previous military rank in civvy street.....from what Ive seen since Im glad because it often just makes one look rather silly.
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Old 20th Jan 2021, 13:42
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Originally Posted by ShyTorque View Post

....from what Ive seen since Im glad because it often just makes one look rather silly.
Open goal Shy, open goal!

CG (Sarge retd.)
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Old 20th Jan 2021, 13:43
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Interesting topic. It has always been a mystery to me why senior officers, ie Sqn Ldr, Major or Lt Cdr retain their rank on retirement, whilst ranks below do not. Mind you, there are some well know people who break that rule. I do have a business card with my rank and post-numerals on; not for show, but it opens a few doors occasionally; especially in the aviation world. After all, I am not an ex CCF cadet (well actually I am). But a very long time ago it did cause a bit of trouble. I was a director of a prestigious car club/Ltd company and renewed by business card when I ran out. A fellow director, who was in charge of office staff, discovered my cards in my slot and ordered them to all be destroyed. Why? well he was an ex Able Seaman and hated officers, especially RAF ones Silly little man.
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Old 20th Jan 2021, 13:50
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I retired from the RAF "retaining the rank of wg cdr" and got a job as an SEO/SBL/Grade C1 - level civil servant where I served the RAF for another 16 years.

I was never tempted to use my rank - would have been embarrassing since most of my bosses were sqn ldrs.
Most knew my background so would occasionally ask my opinion but I never ever thought of using the rank to my advantage.
(The advantage for the RAF was that occasionally when my boss's post was gapped, they would ask me to run things for a while)

After full retirement the only letter I get to "Wg Cdr Radar101" is my RAFA subs letter.

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Old 20th Jan 2021, 13:58
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Would you expect a doctor to rescind his hard-earned title upon retirement? I think not.
Doctor is generally a qualification. As in PhD. Corporal, Lieutenant, Admiral etc is an appointment. Once you retire you no longer hold that appointment.

People who cling to such things, having lived most of their lives through their rank just look sad.

Though I accept my view may be influenced by my time in the Royal Air Force where many NCO techies could be better qualified than a fair few officers.
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Old 20th Jan 2021, 14:07
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I think it's more important to retain your aircrew position on retirement. After all it wouldn't do to be mistaken for a Navigator, or even worse a Bluntie ;-)
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Old 20th Jan 2021, 14:11
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Personally, I think the only people that keep their rank are those that have an inflated ego and cant let go.

Exactly the same with doctors, once you longer treat patients you are not a doctor. No different to someone who used to be a teacher, dustbin man, policeman, florist or any other occupation.

I have never understood it... You don't hear of ex VPs being called Mr President....
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Old 20th Jan 2021, 14:12
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Still a valid question why they should retain the title decades after ceasing to practice.
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Old 20th Jan 2021, 14:14
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Gone are the days when you titulated people by their profession, education, ranks etc.

I remember my grandmother used to put a lot into it.... Now we only use it whenever we're looking for a job.

I personally don't see why we should revert to it?
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Old 20th Jan 2021, 14:19
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Originally Posted by ShotOne View Post
Still a valid question why they should retain the title decades after ceasing to practice.
Doctors are a funny one, they have a BSc yet are called doctor. It's a tough job, but it is just a job that millions do.
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Old 20th Jan 2021, 14:55
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I've worked with/knew three RAF AVM's and none of them used their old rank outside a reunion.
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Old 20th Jan 2021, 15:20
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Morning General..Trade Assistant Qty 1... just does not have a ring to it...
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Old 20th Jan 2021, 15:21
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There's a golf club Bath/Chippenham way, that has a board showing past club captains etc. One such entry is Sqn Ldr xxxxxx - quite odd really.
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Old 20th Jan 2021, 15:43
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This is going back a bit, but my school was full of them; mostly Army, but I remember a few Navy too. One always had to refer to them as Major xxx, Commander yyy, Capt zzz etc. Even at the time it seemed a bit weird; one teacher I never got on with insisted on being called Lieutenant xxxx, which said a lot in hindsight.
I have a number of good friends with PhDs, never once heard any of them referred to as Dr xxxx, even in a professional capacity.
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