There is not nor has there been a 15 year retirement option available in the military.
Im currently this week going through my transition briefing and its been a lot of information to take in, but its all very clearly presented. There is a slew of websites the VA runs that deal solely with all aspects of the switch to civilian life. This poor guy was probably burned out, true. But there are other options in his community in a support role that would have carried him over the 20year point.
He wasnt screwed as the article states. Being in for 16 years, he would have known what it took to get to a point where benefits would kick in, however meager they currently are. Its not an easy process leaving the military, regardless of what your role was...no way this guy was that naive. He did a truly heroic thing, but that type of mission was what he volunteered for. Sad, but to be singled out...no. Lots of folks leave after less than 20, happens every day.
As I said, Im enduring the retirement process now after 21 years and its scary, especially in this economic climate-I get to be unemployed in 6 mos. I feel for the guy-I really do, but given his skillset-he'll land on his feet. Probably soon too.