FORT BELVOIR, Va. – A new transition assistance initiative unveiled this week will help retiring colonels decide which Civil War battle they should study to ease the sting of being passed over for brigadier general, and to fill the void of no longer working 80 hours a week.
The program, dubbed Colonel for Life, individually matches retiring senior field-grade officers with a specific Civil War battle based on their interests, background, and how they treated subordinates over the course of their careers.
“I thought for sure I would make the [brigadier general] list,” said retired Army Col. Jack Moore, who was staring at a battle map from 1862 and clearly holding back tears. “I mean, I did everything you are supposed to – I attended the War College, I commanded a brigade, and my subordinates never once left the office before 1900. Oh, my results are in.”
“It looks like they assigned me Cold Harbor. I wonder why they gave me a battle that was just a fruitless waste of human life.”
A Pentagon spokesperson said Colonel for Life started after a massive write-in petition from thousands of retired officers’ wives, who have been forced to spend time with their husbands for the first time in more than 30 years. Sources say the petition asked the Department of Defense to take their husbands back on active service, help them find a way to stay occupied, or euthanize them for the sake of everyone involved.
“My husband was a colossal ‘you-know-what,’” former Marine spouse, Rosie Thornton, said as she massaged her temples and sipped from a glass of what appeared to be iced tea.
“We had a good thing going until he retired. Then he started trying to order me around like one of his majors. I have self-respect, you know. Then I had watch him eat, listen to his nose whistle when he breathed, and try not to fantasize too much about the day it would stop.”
“Thankfully, he’s fully engrossed in Gettysburg now, so I barely see him again.”
The program’s director, Dr. Michael Ratliff, told reporters that while the program has reduced the number of murder-suicide crimes committed by spouses of retired officers, that was just a happy externality.
“These retiring colonels naturally trend toward studying some Civil War battle or another,” Ratliff said. “But the process can take months or years before they are really adept at regaling unsuspecting friends and loved ones with detailed, unsolicited, and often needlessly relitigated analysis.
“We’re just helping nature take its course.”
Ratliff also told reporters that the program is COVID-19 compliant as it socially distances at-risk colonels from pretty much everybody.