Transition success! This retiring Colonel started a career flipping bases
"Where did they get all this taupe paint?"
It’s a fixer-upper
FORT LIBERTY, N.C.—Colonel Howard Ratner is retiring soon, following a successful Infantry career leading units from platoon to brigade level. His greatest challenge, however, is still ahead of him. Ratner is building a business buying, rehabilitating, and selling neglected DOD garrisons for profit.
As a retired Colonel, with 30 years of service, a 100% disability rating, and a 100% Combat-Related Special Compensation award, Ratner has a post-tax annual income of $142,473.48. His budget is $33 million.
Ratner says, “I was inspired by Tyler Perry’s purchase of Fort McPherson. Sure he’s insanely wealthy from playing an old lady and I have a defined benefit annuity based on inhaling burn pits and getting blown up outside of Mosul, but some of these military transition programs are just giving away money.”
“We already have our first project, an old MOUT facility we converted to lofts, close to completion. It will soon be ready for viewing and purchase offers,” Ratner told Duffel Blog. “But we’re thinking bigger. Why settle for a fourteen-hundred-square-foot ranch-style on three acres, when you can have a bunch of ‘potentially salvageable’ homes on one hundred acres of Superfund site? Worst case, I probably have some tax write-offs that will somehow actually end up making me money. I heard about that from a 1st Sgt. I was talking to in the sauna at the gym the other day. He seemed both confused and very certain.”
Properties Ratner has plans to offer to potential buyers include Fort Gillem near Atlanta, Fort Holabird near Baltimore, Naval Station Galveston, and Mather Air Base outside Sacramento. Improvements to the installations include asbestos elimination, clearance of unexploded ordnance, and removing evidence of names of people who are now considered problematic. But Ratner doesn't stop at simple safety and cultural concerns.
“We really focus on critical aspects like crown molding, open concept floor plans, a kitchen island, and a man cave where guys can really focus on the important things, like huge TVs and sports memorabilia,” Ratner said.
Asked where he got the idea, Ratner explained, “The idea just came to me after I had spent the day at a ‘Boots 2 Business’ entrepreneurship course as part of TAP [the Transition Assistance Program]. That night I was watching ‘Flip or Flop’ with my third ex-wife, Density, and it just hit me, tons of old bases are just lying around, waiting for someone to come in and fix them up.”
Despite a lack of experience in construction, real estate financing or marketing, or business management, Ratner was undaunted.
"Who the [expletive] needs daunts? I’m dealing with the government here, and I’m a retired Colonel. That’s the frickin’ keys to the castle. I’m just trying to figure out how to make this a GS-15 job and double-dip a pension. Make Uncle Sam pay me to pay me, hooah?" Ratner asked.
“After all,” he told Duffel Blog while giving a guided tour of the soon-to-be refurbished LBJ Atomic Waste Interment Disposal Station just outside Chicago, “literally any officer can do literally any job. And if that weren’t true, we wouldn’t have aviation guys commanding infantry divisions, artillerymen running Force Protection units, and a low-ranking Navy Intelligence officer and former mayor of a 3500-person hamlet now in charge of the entire US Department of Transportation.
At press time, the Department of the Treasury was loading a truck with pallets of cash for movement to Ratner’s garage in Southern Pines.
Dick Scuttlebutt is an advocate for shiplap and cool pastels.