JOINT BASE MYER–HENDERSON HALL, Va. — Former Sergeant Major of the Army Dan Dailey confided to friends today that he is excited to begin his lifelong dream of selling military prints at the local post exchange, or PX, while he completes his 1,270 days of terminal leave.
“There are really only a few options we sergeants major have when we retire,” Dailey said as he rang up a customer. “While the officers we advise go on to become board members in the defense industry and groom themselves for sweet senior executive service jobs, most of us go on to work at range control, off-post car dealerships, and payday lenders. Only the cream of the crop gets to sell these sweet Dietz prints at the PX. I consider myself lucky.”
Dailey, who is retiring from the Army after more than 30 years as the Army’s senior enlisted soldier, said it does not bother him that his retirement pay is lower than a major’s with less experience and responsibility.
“You know what I have that those guys don’t?” Dailey asked. “The satisfaction of having worked for a living.”
“And these sweet military prints that are currently half price,” he added, turning to a customer. “You know they will only go up in value. What unit were you with? 82nd? I’ve got just the one for you.”
As Sergeant Major of the Army, Dailey advocated for enlisted soldiers across the Army and advised the Army Chief of Staff on urgent issues such as black mold in military housing, the new Army Combat Fitness Test, and throwback uniforms from the last war the U.S. actually won.
“Advising commanders, taking care of countless soldiers, and improving the Army as an enterprise over the years truly helped prepare me for this new career in retail,” Daily said. “That and decades of worrying about grass, hair, and mustache length, am I right? But seriously, you have got to check out this Afghanistan print titled ‘Forever War.’ It’s set in 2050 and the artist really captures the collective despair of three generations of soldiers.”
The current Sergeant Major of the Army, Michael Grinston, succeeded Dailey last month in a time-honored private ceremony where they passed the Army colors, ritualistically sacrificed a newly commissioned second lieutenant from West Point, and drank his virgin blood.
Jack S. McQuack contributed to this article.