The Foreign Service Journal, November 2020

10 NOVEMBER 2020 | THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL LETTERS Another Antiquated Rule I fully agree with Ted Craig (“Why ‘27 Years and Out’ Should Be Retired,” September FSJ ) that there are some antiquated rules on retirement from the Foreign Service that need to be updated. The Foreign Service Act of 1980 also established mandatory retirement from the Foreign Service at age 65. At the time of the law’s enactment, the typical age to receive full Social Security retirement benefits was also 65. That age has since increased, based on the year an individual is born. For example, an indi- vidual born in 1962 is now eligible for full Social Security retirement benefits at age 67, not 65. And yet, the general health and mental acuity of the U.S. population has improved since 1980. One-third of the U.S. working population intends to work until age 70 or older. Further, our current president is 74 years old; nearly half of U.S. senators are over 65; and approximately 150 of 435 members of the U.S. House of Representatives are also over 65. The forced retirement of able-bodied, medically cleared, highly qualified For- eign Service personnel at the “old” retire- ment age of 65 should be changed to align with current Social Security Administra- tion retirement age equivalents. Certainly, many in the Foreign Service will still want to retire after age 50 with 20 years of service. But many of us want to extend our professional careers a few years longer without the need to reestab- movement, and vital member of the United Nations (“Ralph J. Bunche, U.N. Architect,” September). My father, Amb as- sador Charles W. Yost, and Bunche worked together at the Dumbarton Oaks and San Francisco conferences prior tomeeting at the United Nations in the 1960s. There was, however, another ear- lier experience they shared. Both were accused of being communist sympathiz- ers and interrogated by loyalty boards during the 1950s. Both answered that they were indignant at having their service and loyalty to their country questioned; and though they were cleared, it was a humiliating and damaging experience that neither forgot. Tribute to a Foreign Service Childhood My father, Edward M. Cohen, a Foreign Service officer from 1959 until 1991, died two and a half years ago. I am grateful to him for the wonderful childhood his career in the Foreign Service gave me. Like other Foreign Service “brats,” my childhood was shaped by the various coun- tries we lived in. I wrote this poem as a tribute to the FS lifestyle and thought it might resonate with others whose childhoods were spent in a series of foreign lands. lish ourselves in the employment market at age 65. I hope AFSA will consider leading an effort to amend the Foreign Service Act of 1980 to extend the mandatory retire- ment age from 65 to 70 and amend the Time-in-Service years to something more appropriate. John R. Ezell USAID FSO Dar es Salaam, Tanzania Bunche and Yost: Colleagues, Friends I amdelighted that the Journal has drawn attention to Ralph Bunche, an often-forgotten pioneer of the civil rights Exotic strains of sitar plaintively insinuating the “otherness” of my early childhood in Bangladesh Followed by a strident Sousa march as I proclaim my rightful Americanness in the U.S. And then a cosmic DJ scratching my high school years in Ecuador: salsa and disco bible school and hitchhiking Straight As and my first beer College the twang of country music out of sync in an elite New England locale: country roads don’t take me home because there is no place I belong The musical theater of marriage and family and job the same story often told but unique because it is mine And now My jazz years No set rhythm It’s all improvisation, man. My Life as a Musical Medley —Wendy N. Cohen, Falls Church, Virginia