I don’t like the term “expert” although many federal employees have told me that I am. I’ve worked in retirement & benefits for a long time. I’ve been a federal employee myself.

I prefer the title
“The People’s Retirement Counselor”

I teach people how to make informed decisions about their
retirement and financial future without trying to sell them investments or financial counseling.

I am not a certified financial planner or broker like so many in this field. Nothing on this website should be considered financial counseling or advice.

I AM 100% an instructor.

My extensive knowledge of the federal benefits systems and my ability to explain difficult concepts in an easy to understand manner provides clients quality information upon which they can make informed decisions. I work with everyone from the WG-1 to the SES; from traditional employees to special provisions; from CSRS through FERS-FRAE.

I can do this because I have been a federal employee myself. I have been employed by, and worked with, the federal government for more than 24 years.

First of all, let’s get the “boring” technical stuff out of the way, because there’s something really important I want to share with you about what I’ve been through and how it relates to you and your freedom in retirement:

  • I’ve taught Organizational Leadership, Behavioral Assessment, Change Management, Foundations of Supervision, and Supervisory Soft Skills. Today, I focus on Retirement, Federal Benefits, Social Security,
  • I have been a federal employee myself. I worked in employee relations, labor relations, alternative dispute resolution, awards, long term care, retirement & benefits specialist within the Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs.
  • I am the author of numerous retirement/benefits articles and the Finally Understand series. I co-authored the federal retirement chapters, LRP Federal Publications, Federal Manager’s Guide 2008-2014.
  • I hold a Master of Science degree in Organizational Leadership from Norwich University
  • I am a lifetime member of the National Association of Retired & Active Federal Employees, and a Professional member of the Society for Human Resources Management.  I am registered and approved as a federal government services provider through GSA.
  • While I do not sell annuities or information, I am licensed in both through the State of Virginia. I completed that curriculum and intense licensure process specifically for training purposes to supplement my knowledge of the topics I teach.
Click here to read my professional retirement bio

“What’s up with the moose?”

Many people have asked this question once they see my logo. It’s been a good conversation starter since 2004.

First, it's simply that I really like moose. I'm from Maine originally and created my company when I lived in Montana. The moose reminds me of my roots.

More than that though, the moose totem is an indicator of strength knowing exactly who you are. "You have integrity and always stay true to yourself in decisions and life choices. Friends and peers look up to your knowledge and innate wisdom. You see life for what it is – a long journey with short stops to enjoy the spoils along the way. You move through life with pride and authority because you know and understand that you – and only you – have the authority to make your own choices in life."

The moose has been part of Pinnacle Personnel Services from day one.  He’s staying!

That’s not the most important thing I want you to know…

Technical expertise and credentials are important, which is why I’ve listed several…but what is really important is the WHY, and what any of this means to your own life.

My husband has been in the military for over 20 years. 

I, too, have a fully funded retirement. 

We have saved money to purchase our retirement home without having to go into debt.

In our 50s we are taking dive vacations, and able to collect our children and grandchildren from widespread corners of the country for a reunion every couple of years.

It looks like we have it made, but it wasn’t always so…

We have done a very good job of preparing for retirement. We should be self-reliant well into old age.

None of this was given to us, though. None of this just happened overnight.

Growing up in small towns in Maine, our families did not have a lot of money; necessities were covered but little extra.

I shared not only a room, but a bed, with my two sisters.

When we met, Brent was eating Chef-Boy-Ardee pizza and Ramen. I had been a single mother raising two children and a foster child on just over $400 a month – welfare and food stamps. That’s where we started.

Brent got his degree by putting himself through college. He worked from 9 pm until 7 am, and went to school during the day. I began bettering my situation by taking a job on rotating shifts. I would work 7 am to 3 pm for a few days and then 11 pm to 7 am and then 3 pm to 11 pm. I took a second job cleaning houses.

We worked hard, just like you do day in and day out…and let me tell you, it’s not easy to be changing hours all the time.

Our employers didn’t have a 401k but they did offer payroll deduction for savings bonds. 

I could only afford to buy one $50 savings bond per month.  Not much. My husband did the same.  We wanted to be able to provide for ourselves, and the children, over the long term though so this was a step that needed to be taken. 

Together we agreed that Brent would go back into the military. Not easy. We had to leave life-long family and friends. When we got on the plane that first day, headed to Japan, it was our family of four against – and out into – the world. We were investing in our future. This was a step that needed to be taken.

I couldn’t find work when we arrived on Okinawa so I volunteered. I wasn’t being paid, and I knew nothing about the military (nothing!!!), yet I took a job working 50-60 hours a week in a very fast-paced military customs and courtesies office…and after a year of volunteering, a paid position became available.

At that point, I also started going to school. I had never completed college and realized I wouldn’t be competitive for promotion without a degree. Life became 40-60 hours of work per week, plus college classes, homework, and raising children. These were steps that needed to be taken.

Once I earned my Bachelor’s, I had an opportunity to change careers. I moved into human resources: an area I knew absolutely nothing about. I sat in my office and did nothing but read regulations for 8 hours a day. Every single day. Not fun at all…but totally necessary.

As a military family, we moved, we moved, and we moved again…I ultimately started my own company where I have an opportunity to utilize my years of human resources experience by helping others.

Why do I tell you this story? Because I get it…

I really do.

I know how hard it is to make changes, when it may be years before you ever reap any reward.

I know retirement can seem like a distant dream.  You can’t afford to worry about or fund it today.  You have other commitments.  You’ll start planning for retirement later.

I also know that time has a way of slipping away from us.  It’s critical you start now.  You can’t wait to plan for retirement until you are eligible.

Preparing for retirement requires a consistent series of small of sometimes difficult and/or boring steps. Dr. Stephen Covey talks about “the law of the harvest”. You cannot plant seeds today, and reap a harvest from your garden tomorrow. You have to prep the land, plant the seeds; weed, and nourish the seedlings; make sure they get enough sun and water, but not too much. You have to repeatedly chase the damn squirrels and deer off!! You have to wait for the plants to mature before you get vegetables.

Simplistic? Maybe. That’s the beauty of it though. We all understand that.

Why, then, do we just expect OUR plans to be concepts today and reality by the end of the week?

I teach retirement because I am passionate about helping people plan for their future NOW.

I’ve seen some very sad things happen. 

People losing everything they’ve worked for. 

People trying to live only on Social Security with nothing else saved for retirement. 

People finding themselves unable to retire because they never planned for it. 

I want you to have the knowledge necessary to put together a financially secure future, for yourself and I want you to be aware of how you can provide for your family after you die.

I want to alleviate the fear of being desolate in old age; of not being able to provide for our families when we die.

I teach every single class, I write every book, with my mother in mind. She was an incredibly hard worker. She didn’t have a college degree. If she were learning from me, would she understand it?

I’m tired of experts making the topics too complex. I tired of gurus spouting off with technical terminology and jargon.  I’m tired of people saying, “just go to OPM’s website and research the topic”.  Yes, you can most definitely do that.  Yes, that is the source of all federal retirement information.  No, it’s not user-friendly nor easy to understand.

We are a military family.  My husband has served in the Marine Corps and Air Force.  My son, the Army.  My daughter is prior Air Force and my daughter in law prior Army.  I have spent many years working for the Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs as a federal civilian.

Our sense of family and service are strong.

Our passion is in helping.

Our training is for everyone from the person starting their career, and earning minimum wage – to the Director / SES at the top of our organizations.

Pinnacle Personnel Services, LLC., prides itself on providing simple solutions to complex topics.  Our experts have provided hundreds of training sessions, world-wide in an easy-to-understand manner.

We are passionate about ensuring YOU learn what you need about these topics.

Are you ready to learn more about your federal financial benefits?  To learn about planning your own financial freedom and legacy for retirement and beyond? Click here to learn more about how you can work with me.

To your secure retirement!
Debbie Hatch,
Pinnacle Personnel Services, LLC

P.S. All of the training I provide is for everyone!  From the person who started work yesterday to the person who has completed 30 years of federal service. It’s for the WG-1 through the SES.  I teach based upon my firmly held believe that every single person should understand his/her retirement benefits. Click here to get started!