The Foreign Service Journal, November 2022

12 NOVEMBER 2022 | THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL Retirement for the Rest of Us I enjoyed reading your May 2022 fea- ture by Donna Gorman, “The Last Assign- ment: Moving into Retirement, ” about the retirement realities for some Foreign Service officers. But I was disappointed that the infor- mation seemed to be aimed at a very specific kind of retirement— namely, one that involves the original (and far more generous) Foreign Service Pension System (FSPS), two spouses, and a career that runs right up to the mandatory retirement age. The truth is, many FSOs I speak to need to plan for a very different kind of retirement. First, according to a March 2021 cable from the Bureau of Global Talent Management, 27 percent of the Foreign Service is single, whether through death, divorce, or never marrying. How does retirement planning look when there is only one person, but also only one salary? I didn’t see anything in the article about retiring while single, despite it being the reality for a large and growing number of FSOs. In fact, there’s even a line that reads, “She [Carolyn Connell] recommends that both spouses make separate lists of every- thing that is important in a new town,” which assumes there’s always a spouse. In 2022, that approach is quite simply a relic. Next, I wonder if the State Department realizes how many FSOs who will have retirement eligibility at age 50 (or earlier) plan to take that option. With fewer ben- efits, fewer resources, and more demands fromWashington, retirement at earliest eligibility is a wish for many. What does a 40-something FSO look- ing at retirement in five to 10 years need to consider to make it work for them? There are more of those “retirees” out there than the Foreign Service might be expecting. Last, we know that the FSPS, itself less generous than the system that preceded it, becomes even less generous over time. My pension will not be as useful as the pension of someone who joined in 1985, and someone who joined in 2018 will have a pension even less useful than mine. With this reality facing future retirees, do we need to make other consider- ations, such as additional investments, to realize our retirement plans? What about those who might not feel they can rely on their pension at all, and aren’t figuring it into their plans? Retirement is no longer something that happens at 65 with a spouse and a generous pension. Many FSOs are plan- ning for a very different kind of retire- ment. I’d like to see the Journal provide information that can inform these officers, as well. Tanya R. Brothen FSO Arlington, Virginia Oxford Comma Editor’s Note: Thank you to everyone who wrote in with praise for the adoption of the Oxford comma. We heard from no naysayers. A few examples of the com- ments: I’m so pleased that FSJ style will now include the Oxford comma (September 2022 FSJ Letter from the Editor) . I’ve been a supporter of it forever. Maybe the popu- larity of AP style—no Oxford comma— is waning along with printed newspapers? No need to save on all those commas when publishing digitally, right? Clarity really is improved with the Oxford comma. Regards from a former FSJ Editorial Board member. Julie Gianelloni Connor SFSO, retired Publisher, Bayou City Press Houston, Texas Speaking of commas, do you know the difference between a cat and a comma? One has claws at the end of its paws; the other is a pause at the end of a clause. John Limbert Ambassador, retired New York, New York Thrilled by your Oxford comma deci- sion. Really wise move. Margery Thompson Publishing Director, ADST Arlington, Virginia Congratulations on the adoption of the Oxford comma, which is wise, help- ful, and overdue. Harvey Leifert FSO, retired Bethesda, Maryland n Share your thoughts about this month’s issue. Submit letters to the editor: