Readers sounded off after we rated False a George P. Bush claim that he’s a "retired" Navy officer. Bush, seeking a second term as Texas land commissioner, served 10 years in the Navy Reserve. He left the service without qualifying for retirement.
Let’s open our mailbag.
Lee Spieckerman, a spokesman for Bush’s campaign, emailed: "Ridiculous. A pure click-bait headline. Of zero value to voters. Surely your time can be better spent. Get serious."
Another reader similarly objected: "Replace ‘retired’ with ‘former’ or ‘ex…’ and it's no big deal. What piddly office is this for? Who could possibly care?! Change the last name to Jones and this is a non-story."
One reader wrote: "I am NOT a Bush fan and probably would vote for his Marine opponent if I was a resident of Texas, but this was simply a case of the wrong word used. He (Bush) IS a veteran and that’s what they should have said. However, the majority of the population doesn’t know the difference between retired and veteran. Of course the Marine that is running against him does and I as the mother of Marine do, but most do not. I don’t think this warranted a False. It’s like saying you took a shower when you actually took a bath."
Another reader suggested our story lacked "important context. Many veterans in public life who are not receiving a pension use the term ‘retired’ to describe their separation from military service."
The reader also took note that we’d looked into Bush’s status after a challenger, veteran Jerry Patterson, questioned Bush’s "retired" claim.
The reader said: "One man’s opinion, a politician rival to Bush no less, does not speak for all veterans in terms of how we interpret the use of this term nor is his interpretation of regulations correct."A more accurate way to describe the issue, the reader elaborated, "would be to say that 30 years of service entitles a service member to a traditional ‘pension’ but the title of ‘retired’ is not an official title conferred upon an officer regardless of his eligibility. In fact, a commission in the United States armed forces is technically for life and an officer like George P. Bush can be reactivated."
Another reader wrote: "It is possible to retire way before 20 years. I served just under 4 year in the United States Army and I am retired. Medical retirement is a thing and you get a pension and all retirement benefits."
Another reader thanked us, writing: "I served 6 years of active duty in the U.S. Air Force, then resigned my regular commission to go to graduate school. I never say that I ‘retired’ from the Air Force. I resigned, and so did Bush."
Truth-O-Meter article, "George P. Bush falsely describes himself as 'retired' Navy officer," PolitiFact Texas, Feb. 16, 2018