Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, accompanied by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, speaks during an event at the National Defense University in Washington, Tuesday, Aug. 16, 2011. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
WASHINGTON (AP) - It sounds like a pretty good deal: Retire at age 38 after 20 years of work and get a monthly pension of half your salary for the rest of your life. All you have to do is join the military.
As the nation tightens its budget belt, the century-old military retirement system has come under attack as unaffordable, unfair to some who serve and overly generous compared with civilian benefits.
That very notion, laid out in a Pentagon-ordered study, sent a wave of fear and anger through the ranks of current and retired military members when it was reported in the news media this month.
If pensions are to be cut, Congress should go first, one person said on the Internet.