Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Early Retirement Discussed During Congress' Break

As the National Defense Authorization Act is idle until September, when the Senate as a whole will take it up for business, there is still opportunity to help shape legislation. ROA met with other associations to discuss what approaches to take to obtain passage of early retirement. Bills such as H.R. 208 and S.831 have met resistance because of the cost of $2.1 billion over the next ten years.

Being discussed is a phased in approach which has worked for concurrent receipt of disabilities and reducing the offset of Dependency and Indemnity Compensation from those survivors who also had the Survivor Benefit Plan. A proposal is being studied to break the 2001 - 2007 time period into smaller blocks which will cost less. ROA continues to advocate that no individual who has served since Sept. 11 be left out, and phase-in be structured in such a way to encourage Congress to continue to pass legislation for the next groups.

ROA is not giving up on finding alternatives to expanding early retirement to an even broader population. The challenge increases as Congress looks ahead to the withdrawal of troops from Iraq and Afghanistan, as this will reduce the visibility of serving National Guard and Reserve members. Traditionally, though, it is the Active Duty component that is brought home, leaving the Guard and Reserve to do the peace keeping role.

58 comments:

LTC Ralph Mitchell, USAR (ret) said...

I highly support an Early Retirement for Reservists for the following ten (10)reasons:

1. Congress used to have to wait until age 60 before collecting any of their pension money, but changed those regs back in 1984 and removed "age" from being a factor of eligibility. Supposedly changing the retirement system for Reservists was to have been next; and as we all can see ... nothing ever happened.

2. The Personnel Management models that were put in place back in the 1950s when it came to managing Reservists became antiquated decades ago and it is time to finally get in step with modern standards and customs.

3. Guard & Reserve personnel are still the ONLY government employees (municipal, state or federal) that still have to wait until age 60 before ever getting paid one penny of the retirement money that has been earned and promised.

4. Returning Reservists often face discrimination in the civilian job markets and if you look at the unemployment figures specifically for returning Vets who still have an obiligation to the Reserves, the numbers are probably higher than any other segments within American society.

5. Our federal government is trying to improve the US economy by looking for ways to put money directly into the hands of a cash-strapped public. The best way in my opinion is by giving it directly to those citizens whom have faithfully served the American flag and who really deserve it the most!

6. In order for someone's military career in the Reserves to survive for 20 years and maintain a competitive stance, it will often entail assignments with a large volume of unpaid duty that is often mandatory. Allowing Early Retirement is just a form of restitution for all of that mandatory unpaid time that was performed "for the flag" with no military pay nor any expense reimbursements.

7. After a Reservist has honorably served 20 years, it presently takes an average of 10 years before finally becoming eligible for retirement pay. How many Congressional staff members would be willing to wait an extra 10 years before getting their retirement money? If they won't wait, then neither should we.

8. Income to replace Drill Pay after mustering out and going into the "Gray Area" is NOT easy to find; especially for somebody who was a senior NCO or a commissioned officer who has dignity and warrants more respect than some entry level job at a minimum wage that would be more suitable for teenagers.

9. If the "powers that be" claim that an Early Retirement would cost $2 Billion over ten years and would be too expensive ... then what about the $8 Billion that was given to the Afghan government that is "missing" and unaccounted for? How come the other billions of dollars handed over to Pakistan, Iraq, Afghanistan and other nations under the guise of foreign aid was never deemed as being too expensive?

10. By not approving Early Retirement, perhaps we should shed a "spotlight" on those elected officials that officially disapproved that legislation ... and let our members know so that themselves along with their friends and relatives can "disapprove" of those specific elected officials when it is time for their re-elections.

Just my two cents worth.

---Ralph Mitchell, LTC USAR (ret)

Anonymous said...

Ditto.

The ROA has been far less than attentive to Retirement Parity with the AD. In fact the ROA has failed us in this regard. Even the 40+ year old point systems was intended to design in parity, but not to the extent of waiting until age 60!

The ROA has failed for 40+ years to address the disparity for members. Instead the Organization faces declining membership and less support from those of us who were promised more and are "now" being told "The Charter" refocuses the Organization in a different direction than we were "sold" to get us to join. There should be no wonder as to why membership is low and declining - no wonder!

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
ReserveOfficer said...

It's a shame that folks who see the steps ROA has helped achieve toward parity for the Reserve is seen as total failure in our mission.

Quite the contrary, ROA has been a significant part of the debate and has helped improve a number of issues surrounding Early Retirement. First, in 2008, Early retirement was achieved. Unfortunately only for those who serve after 2008. We have been incredibly vocal about retroactively fixing that but are faced with a $2.1 billion bill to fund in order to do that. Those who reference other seemingly frivolous government spending do not fully understand the zero-sum game Congress plays. This bill must be paid out of the same pot of money it will come from. We can't just dip into other pots such as foreign aid.

This year, we highlighted the disparity incumbent with service that crosses the fiscal year and got that fixed. It's small steps forward like these each year that we must count as successes over a long term campaign because NOTHING in Congress is a flip of the switch.

For ROA members at the local level who feel ROA has failed, I turn the question to you: What have you done from a grass roots level to affect change? The National Staff can only achieve so much. Without your voice too, change will remain on the slow train.

airish said...

As someone who spent nearly 2 years downrange post 9-11, I would like to see this change happen and am interested in how the ROA plans to sell this. Unfortunately, it looks as if we will be swimming upstream against a very powerful current, given the strong push for major benefits reductions that are being discussed. I frankly wouldn't be surprised if DOD were pushing for a rise in the retirement age for all, including the RC. It would not shock me if Sec. Gates were to propose some sort of gray area for the AC retirees as well. Anyone who is following the discussions in Washington should be aware that the groundwork is being laid for major cuts in entitlements -- in particular retirement benefits across the board, including social security. This goes for military retirement benefits as well. For an interesting discussion, peruse the discussions as the latest Defense Business Board quarterly meeting at http://dbb.defense.gov/MeetingFiles/Delivered.pdf.

Ross said...

Sadly I must disagree with many of my brother and sister officers over the reduced retirement age debate. Just as the rules of the game should never change for those in the game already, those who made the decision to "play" based upon their understanding of those rules, neither should rules be adopted retroactively in this regard for the same reasoning. This insidious theme of “me, me, me” on the part of ROA and much of the RC community has caused me to suspend active participation in the organization. During a recent 3 year active duty tour I saw this manifest many times, both stateside and in theater. ROA should, by its own charter, be so much more.
In a recent posting LTC Ralph Mitchell expressed what most accept to be legitimate argument in favor of early retirement, but a closer, more objective look is called for here. That congress did a self-serving thing regarding their retirement policies is neither surprising nor something to be copied by us. Two wrongs still do not make a right. We are, after all military officers, not mere congressmen/women. If policies in place in the 50s have become antiquated, other changes have occurred that argue against early retirement - longevity for one. The longest reach many make in the argument is comparing apples to watermelon, full time employment retirement policies with those of part time, often infrequent, but well compensated employment. That unemployed vets represent a higher number than they should is debatable, but, if true, may have little to do with their vet status. (As an aside, not all those so visible on some of our streets holding the cardboard sign indicating so are, indeed, vets.)
Returning vets may face discrimination in the job market, but they also benefit from preferences, both formal and informal. Many companies and local, state and federal governments accommodate military service by their employees. As far as reservists deserving additional or early money, why exactly? No one has forced today’s service member into uniform and who among us is in it for the money? “Unpaid time” is, again ultimately, a choice with the “restitution” being satisfaction, pride and/or promotion. Another argument made by LTC Mitchell and others deals with the loss of drill pay while in the gray area. We would do well to remember that most of our fellow countrymen and women must be content with or, at least, deal with the jobs they have full time or work second jobs, often without other benefits available to the gray area reserve component retiree. We can, too. That the government may waste millions elsewhere is, again, irrelevant. The answer is to correct that problem, not to use it as an excuse to further exacerbate our country’s strained financial situation.
Finally the issue concerning parity with the AD – I’ll just limit myself to the math (As imperfect as it may be, it is still instructive.) 365 (days a year) X 20 (years service) = 7300 …………………………. 50 (points per year) X 20 (“years” service) = 1000
Perhaps the active duty members should be required to serve longer , have a later MRD or higher age limit (as was done in the FAA with the Air Traffic Controller work force). But the ROA would do well to raise the bar, to be the folks who recognize problems related to our military and seek solutions, to be the conscience the AC often can’t give voice to. Generals and Admirals who have the guts should have another option before “falling on their swords” and the Army/Navy/Air Force Times shouldn’t be the ones to point out when the emperor has no clothes.


Gerald R. Flavel,
LTC USAR (ret)

Y Caruthers said...

I don't believe it is fair to say that ROA has failed/is failing. The folks on the hill have assertively advocated for the best interests of Reserve Officers, as they see it. If I didn't believe that, Ii wouldn't stay.

I believe that the membership is declining because the average Reserve Officer does not identify with ROA. The perception of the organization is that of older former O6+ silver hairs who can't put their uniform in their attic, or stop using their titles. The organization needs younger, vibrant, serving members in the public eye, while still effectively utilizing the experience of years. After all, the R doesn't stand for "Retired."

But for now, please let the old war dogs keep the pressure on our legislators. I am with you.

Y. Caruthers, USAR Ret.

john z said...

To make it more affordable, start with limiting the early retirement to those who actually served in the war zone (Iraq/Afghanistan Campaign Medal required) .......... then seek to expand it later.

Anonymous said...

As a 26 year career Army Reserve officer, I have one overriding point to make. Namely, the reserve contract I originally enlisted under and then became an officer was in what used to be the "strategic" reserve. The operationalization of the reserve components, coupled with frequent call-ups, required schooling for points only and no pay or reimbursement, years in grade verses our AD brothers for promotion purposes, and being away from our families, and civilian employers (read loss of promotion opportunities- the provisions of USERRA notwithstanding)have all added up to the fact that we are no longer just "weekend warriors" nor are we full time AD either. We are falling somewhere in between. However, I must disagree with LTC Flavel based on what I just wrote above. What on earth is wrong with with Congress simply allowing Reservists to draw their pensions based the current system at 55 rather than 60? Why is it that Congress sees no problem with adding billions or even trillions of dollars to social welfare programs, yet our own SECDEF calls for increased cuts in benefits for those of us who have served honorably and much more than the minimum 50 points per year all during a war with two fronts? Oh, yes, I forgot to mention that we still maintain an entire Army Division in South Korea for a war that is technically still going on-not to mention the Balkans and the many other places around the world we are deployed to. I am also in favor of allowing those reservists already retired but not yet 55 (assuming Congress will eventually change current law) to immediately begin receiving their retirement checks upon reaching age 55.

As to cost off-sets...again, I digress and go back to Congress. When will they demand cuts and savings to all the welfare programs that dwarf our annual defense budget??? Mmmmm?

Finally, it is important to note that many civilian employers of Reservists WILL use your military service against them regarding promtions and favorable job transfers in such a way that it is very difficult if not impossible to win in court to sue them or even get DOL-VETS to find in your favor.

Just food for thought.

LTC P, USAR

Anonymous said...

As a 26 year career Army Reserve officer, I have one overriding point to make. Namely, the reserve contract I originally enlisted under and then became an officer was in what used to be the "strategic" reserve. The operationalization of the reserve components, coupled with frequent call-ups, required schooling for points only and no pay or reimbursement, years in grade verses our AD brothers for promotion purposes, and being away from our families, and civilian employers (read loss of promotion opportunities- the provisions of USERRA notwithstanding)have all added up to the fact that we are no longer just "weekend warriors" nor are we full time AD either. We are falling somewhere in between. However, I must disagree with LTC Flavel based on what I just wrote above. What on earth is wrong with with Congress simply allowing Reservists to draw their pensions based the current system at 55 rather than 60? Why is it that Congress sees no problem with adding billions or even trillions of dollars to social welfare programs, yet our own SECDEF calls for increased cuts in benefits for those of us who have served honorably and much more than the minimum 50 points per year all during a war with two fronts? Oh, yes, I forgot to mention that we still maintain an entire Army Division in South Korea for a war that is technically still going on-not to mention the Balkans and the many other places around the world we are deployed to. I am also in favor of allowing those reservists already retired but not yet 55 (assuming Congress will eventually change current law) to immediately begin receiving their retirement checks upon reaching age 55.

As to cost off-sets...again, I digress and go back to Congress. When will they demand cuts and savings to all the welfare programs that dwarf our annual defense budget??? Mmmmm?

Finally, it is important to note that many civilian employers of Reservists WILL use your military service against them regarding promtions and favorable job transfers in such a way that it is very difficult if not impossible to win in court to sue them or even get DOL-VETS to find in your favor.

Just food for thought.

LTC P, USAR

Anonymous said...

History is just repeating itself. Ten years ago ROA magazine had conflicting views submitted by members. Those who were age 60+ and already collecting their retirement money were opposed to any early retirement pay. Whereas those who were younger were all in favor of seeing a change where they would NOT have to wait until age 60.


But like the old saying, "The squeaky wheel gets the grease." I do believe that we all owe it to ourselves to become more confrontational to all of our elected Senators and Congressmem and urge them to support legislation that would eliminate the requirement of age 60 before becoming eligible for pay.

Where we have failed is by having a "self sacrificing" mentality and allowing the bean-counters in Washington to continuously cut our budgets with very little opposition. There is but so much money within our Federal Budget before DOD even gets its funding. We have been too quiet and too accepting of previous budget cuts and look where we are. Congress simply thought all was well and started doling out dollars elsewhere because our leadership remained silent and accepted what was given.

If I was the head of the ROA, I would confront DOD for a bigger budget which would include a revised retirement program that would take effect ASAP. And at that same time I would orchestrate a media campaign that would tell the American public just how under-funded the RC have been for so many years. It might embarass several people within the Pentagon; but maybe that is what it would take to finally get things done!

airish said...

For what it's worth, the defense pie will be shrinking, or at least not growing, for the foreseeable future, and that's going to result in an eye-gouging, crotch kicking fight. The major players, with the most resources, are the defense contractors -- those who build major weapons systems -- and those, such as BAH, who run much of the operations. These guys, you may notice, are ensconced in large buildings in Rosslyn and Crystal City and have huge amounts of money and political influence. The services (the USAF, anyone?) have gladly given up uniformed personnel authorizations in order to keep favored systems like the F-22 going. The services much prefer as large an active force as possible for current ops, in lieu of dealing problematic and difficult-to-access RC units and personnel.

Those who have been around for a while should recall that the services have a plan for your career, and it is highly likely not to be the plan you might prefer. Recall the RIFs after Vietnam and Desert Storm, for example -- I think another one is coming. Whether you think it's inequitable or not, Sec. Gates and the senior leadership have made it clear that personnel costs and generous benefits are on the chopping block. A recent military.com post contains this item: "I've heard a four-star military leader comment that DoD is turning into a benefits company that will occasionally kill a terrorist,' [Arnold] Punaro [who chairs a task force for the Defense Business Board] said in a phone interview Tuesday.

Anonymous said...

I am perplexed in the fact that the ROA National Level used the phrase/argument "It's small steps forward like these each year that we must count as successes over a long term campaign because NOTHING in Congress is a flip of the switch"

That is exactly the reason for the undeniable reference of 40+ years without efforts for reserve retirement change of any kind, let alone the appropriate drive to PARITY with the AD using the points system after 20 years of service. I don't consider 40+ years the flick of a switch.

Many of us have driven grass root discussions and even resolution proposals that have been stalled at the local levels. That is why we contacted the rOA National. Many of us have voiced our opinions to legislatures, both when and when not asked to do so by the ROA; even indicating at times disagreement with the feeble approach on the reserve retirement topic by our ROA, "who has chosen the path of least resistance" in representing members in this matter.

I respect the opinions and positions of my peers.

Others sold "Life Memberships" with false promises of ROA representation, which INCLUDED "benefits" can rest assured I have done my share of carrying the torch.

LTC Ralph Mitchell, USAR (ret) said...

Talk about controversy!!!!

I have enjoyed reading the comments recently posted; even those submitted by folks who do NOT agree with me.

But bottom line, I still feel as though we as an organization need to become more confrontational with DOD, the US Senate and the US House when it comes to the funding of our benefits. Remaining silent and just accepting more benefit cuts makes no sense at all. I for one would NOT accept any cuts in benefits unless EVERY federal agency to include Presidential Cabinets and Congress likewise had to take some dramatic cuts as well.

One of the previous posts mentioned deploying a media campaign that would focus on all of the inequities and embarass the Pentagon in front of the entire world into finally making some long overdue changes. I agree with this idea as well.

Talking amongst ourselves is like preaching to the choir. In order to really get the points across we need to expand our audience. Perhaps the next time that ROA is scheduled to meet with Congress, DOD or any other entity empowered to enact changes in regards to Retirement ... those of us who are the most vocal should be allowed to openly participate; be it in person or even by way of a telephone conference or perhaps a webinar. Given that geographic distances and travel costs might pose an obstacle for some, I would recommend doing so via a webinar first; followed by a face to face meeting if productive and deemed necessary.

I am already retired. Therefore I have absolutely nothing to lose by letting the truth be known. And I certainly have nothing to gain by sugar-coated lies to protect the incompetent. I do believe that we owe it to the younger members of ROA and those that will come after them to do all that we can to improve the system so that they do not have to endure some of the same old crap. This really needs to be done if we are to attract and retain young individuals who would be willing to step forth and become productive members of ROA.

Just my two cents worth

Anonymous said...

my two cents: Reservists have been doing the same job as active duty, plus juggling full-time jobs as well for many years. It is only fitting that Reservists get the same benefits that the AD gets. The AD retire when they are under 50, many barely past 40, and start a full-time second career, receiving military benefits immediately....So how is that fair? Reservists deserve their money for the same work the same way.

Ross said...

Ah! Recruitment and retention! There's a reason for early retirement for those entering the RC. I agree, Ralph. Many possibilities present, graduated retirement, deferred retirement annuity.

ReserveOfficer said...

There is an ongoing confusion of mixing up "benefits" with "incentives", and ignoring the facts that many "benefits" of retirees were deferred incentives to keep them in the force. The reason ROA is involved in the advocacy of incentive is that it recruits and retains the all-volunteer force which is a national security imperative. This concept will be further pursued in the November Officer Magazine.

As for the status of retirement, there is a current commission looking at all retirement issues, Reserve early retirement included. In conversation with senior DoD officials, there is less a penchant in DoD right now to lean toward a gray-area for the active component to create parity as there is toward a contribution-type retirement plan as most civilian employees have whereby DoD "matches" an employee contribution. Obviously there are repercussions all around and ROA will keep on monitoring the emerging situation.

LTC Ralph Mitchell, USAR (ret) said...

I do believe that you must be eluding to the Federal Thrift Savings Plan; which is how AD individuals can contribute towards their retirement just like federal GS Civiian employees. Under this scenario they have the option of setting aside Pre-tax dollars and investing that money in a number of "on the shelf" mutual fund style investments. The big advantages are that: (1) It reduces their annual income tax liability since their taxable income is reduced by whatever amount has been contributed each year. (2) In the event that their AD careers do NOT last for 20 years, they have money that can be rolled over into an IRA and taken with them when they leave.

But the Federal Thrift Savings Program is just for the folks on AD. What have RC folks got? Nothing!

Furthermore, I see NO INCENTIVE in making somebody wait an extra 10 years until they are 60 years old before paying them the money that they have earned and has been promised. How can there possibility be any retention incentives when MRD comes into play and you have no choice but to retire? Meanwhile our counterparts on AD retire at the average age of 40 and start collecting their loot and enjoying themselves just as soon as they muster out. There is no parity in comparison.

This whole system is flawed and is long overdue for a major overhaul.

I would love to speak before Congress or before the Senate and tell them just how flawed things really are; and likewise express some recommendations on how to fix things.

Anonymous said...

Monitoring is safe.

While the ROA monitors, members will continue to assess, plan, communicate, implement action plans, evaluate effectiveness and begin the process again.

Monitoring is safe.

ReserveOfficer said...

@LTC Mitchell: The ability for Reserve to contribute to TSP occurred a couple years ago. As a reservist, it is something I participate in.

DoD doesn't match TSP contributions for uniformed (AD or Reserve) as they do with Civilians. For DoD civilians, TSP is their only retirement plan.

What the retirement commission is looking at, as one option they may consider recommending, is that a TSP-like function with matching be the only retirement option for all uniformed.

There is significantly less likelihood that The Reserve will get more benefit out of the recommendations from this study than the AD change the way they earn retirement. Parity will be achieved, but it'll be at the cost of the AD, not to the benefit of the Reserve.

Ross said...

parity - 1. In general, a situation of equality. Parity can occur in many different contexts, but it always means that two things are equal.
AD service is not equal to RC service. If one wants AD pay and benefits one joins the active force. AC or RC, your friendly local recruiter ensures that all recruits are made very familiar with the advantages of a full time military career. If one sees no incentive in a guaranteed retirement annuity at age 60 in exchange for 20 years of part time employment (without having to work ‘til even close to that age - another way of looking at that "10 extra(?) years", perhaps?), well, one is just not looking closely enough! Let us not alienate our AD comrades. Fairness, yes. Parity...... not so much.

Anonymous said...

Back when they FIRST came out with the retirment plan for Reservists in the 1950s; it was when Reservists probably only performed once a month during a then typical Weekend Drill. This is documented in a book entitled "The Soldier and the State" by Samuel Huntington which was first published in 1957.

Huntington had served fulltime on AD and I believe he retired as a General. In his book he often referred to "unprofessional reservists" which reflects the lack of appreciation for Reservists of that era.

But these days when you look at the increased OPTEMPO associated with being in a unit assignment and add in all of the pressures of trying to maintain a civilian career with some semblence of a family life ... and on top of all of that, you still have to take and complete military correspondence courses which are mandatory, yet unpaid. Talk about stress!!!!

Just take the typical Drill Pay of a Reservist and divide it by ALL of the hours spent during a typical month performing something that is military related and mandatory (paid as well as unpaid) and the hourly rate is not much above minimum wage. And don't forget to minus out travel expenses, uniform empenses and everything else that is not reimbursed as well. Be prepared to even see a negative final number!

But if you take Active Duty pay for the same pay grade to include ALL allowances and Per Diems; divide that by a number that would account for a 50-hr work week;now convert that to an hourly rate.

Now multiply that hourly rate times the number of monthly hours that a Reservist is expected to perform ... the amount due would would more than five times what that underpaid Reservist has actually been receiving for Drill Pay.

And you STILL think that a Reservist should be denied access to his/her Retirement Money until age 60? An extra 20 years longer than when most AD people retire at age 40? Since most Reserve officer hit MRD around 50, that means a 10-year wait with a loss of income.

I would challenge anybody who thinks this is just and reasonable to just do this ...

DONATE every penny of your military retirement to the ROA or some other nonprofit organization for safekeeping for the next ten years! Enjoy what it is like to have a loss of income for ten years and just maybe you will have a change of heart.

And if you cannot put up ... then shut up!

ReserveOfficer said...

Thanks for the suggestion to donate your entire retirement income to ROA. We could certainly use it... But we'd feel guilty by taking the entire thing... just a little though to help keep our efforts alive on Capitol Hill on this issue would be appropriate if you are able. www.roa.org/donate.

Also, for those of you posting anon... to track the conversation, it would be great if you could post with a name/URL. You don't have to give us a real name or real URL, but it'd be nice to differentiate the opinions expressed on this blog.

Thanks for your continued engagement on this important topic though. Your comments are being taken in full stride by those on the staff.

Anonymous said...

My suggestion is to use that tactic as a position of argument.

Those who smugly oppose any Early Retirements (pre Age 60) for Reservists and who likewise believe that a 10-year loss of income is justified ... are the people who should be asked to put their money where their mouths are and to donate either a chunk of their existing paycheck if not retired; or their entire military paycheck if retired for ten consecutive years.

If they do not think their househould budgets can sustain such a reduction in income, then obviously a Reservist should NOT have to wait an average of 10 years before collecting his/her Reserve Retirement money. It is too economically devasting!

airish said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
airish said...

I see the likely outcome of any retirement commission meeting a couple of perceived needs on the part of the leadership. One is to keep the benefits train from overwhelming the resources available to keep it moving. The second is the ability to “tailor” the force to meet current requirements, especially as the reserve force continues to become more operational. In both cases, a defined contribution plan works. Frankly, as a recently retired O-6, it was my experience that 90% of all O-6s are pretty much unwelcome guests at the party. By and large, colonels aren’t wanted downrange at all, so they sit in the rear, even though many would like to contribute. On the other hand, O-6s have every incentive to stay in the system to maximize their retirements while finally collecting a nice drill check. The leadership, on the other hand, would like to entice more CPTs and maybe MAJs, along with their mid-grade NCO counterparts, to stay in instead of punching out to pursue their civilian careers, since they, unlike senior officers, are prime deployment assets. How then do you incentivize those 30-somthings as you are simultaneously reducing slots for senior officers, thus sending the message to the 30-somethings that retirement and a long career is not in the cards for most? The answer will be more finely monetary incentives and/or employer contributions to TSP or a similar plan that are designed to keep in the 30-somethings and push out the 50 somethings. I have always been perplexed by the notion offered by some that the system should be designed to keep senior people in longer, when it is very clear that those are precisely the (more expensive and thought to be less flexible) people the system would like to see pack up and leave. The CAR, in particular, makes it very clear in public comments, decisions on personnel, force structure, etc., that for most senior officers, they should take care not to let the door strike them in the posterior.

Albert F. Priselac II said...

I had one of the earlier posts...I'm the 26 year Reservist. Other reasons why I think Reservists ought to draw their pensions at age 55 are (as opposed to our AD brethern): we spend more years in grade before being considered for promotion; we must meet the same military and civilian education requirements for promotion; we attend many required schools for points only with no per diem (I attended CGSOC and NWC-5 out of 6 years for points only (I was only paid for two 15 day ADTs for the Legacy Phases II/IV at Fort Dix); we are shortchanged on CONUS per diem rates (CO-ADOS tours net us only 55% of the max. daily rate...our AD counterparts get 100% everywhere they go TDY); we have to attempt (the provisions of USERRA notwithstanding) to hold down a full-time civilian job while "playing Operational Reserve" hoping that we can somehow REALLY compete with our peers for workplace promotions; our AD counterparts get to take their families with them for all CONUS PCS's and most OCONUS PCS's while we are ordered to go on an AD tour of one to two years either CONUS or OCONUS with orders that say "Unaccompanied" (try telling a regular Army soldier that he can't take his family with him on a PCS in a non-hostile/combat zone!); and finally....at the LTC or COL rank in the Reserve world, good luch actually finding an DIMA or TPU position that is within reasonable commuting distance of your home of record!

Albert F. Priselac II, USAR
LTC, CA

LTC Albert F. Priselac II, USAR said...

In case no one noticed, many DIMA positions (by the thousands) have been deleted by the US Army Reserve Command or only partially funded for 12 days of AT and no drills. Most of the positions I've looked at are too far from my home of record...and when you call to ask about a position, a good many of those DIMA slots will pay for your round trip airline fare, and 12 nights of lodging and meals, but if you're going that route and the commander will also allow you to do all 24 days of paid drills, YOU must pay for 24 nights of lodging out of you own wallet! How's that for parity! I've been in long enough to see many advertising and sales pitch slogans such as "Army of One" and all the others. Additionally, we tend to be older than our AD counterparts and we are still must do PT for more years and must take an APFT for record two times a year (for TPU folks...IMA and IRR take it only once per year while on AT). I don't know about everybody else, but I'll soon be 44 year old. Given that my AD brothers are usually retired well before that age (either as E-8's, W04's, or 0-5's), the body just starts to break down after so long. Parity? Well, I guess if we're talking about unlimited PX/Commissary/MWR, etc., there sure is parity. However, when I first came in (1985) Reservists could only use the PX- one time during annual training, but didn't have any access to the commissary unless we were on AD for more than 30 consecutive days...and then we not only had to show our ID card, but a copy of our orders as well just to get in!

LTC Albert F. Priselac II, USAR said...

Finally, since 9/11, I've been in three DIMA slots and have been mobilized three times (drills/AT/military schools not counted in)for a total of nearly three years. And, no, my employer is not one bit happy about it! I've said enough. Sometimes the world of the Reserves must be put into proper perspective. I'm not asking Congress or the Pentagon for retirement parity, but something else has to be put into place. We have earned much more than what we're getting. As a side note, a very good (now deceased friend of mine) retired from the Army Reserve after having served 32 year of enlisted/officer. He told me he waited nearly 20 year before he turned 60. God rest his soul- he died at the age of 93. But fact remains and the point is well made- it is a shame that we have to wait so long in the "gray" years just to get the first check. It's not about parity or equality, it's about getting what we should be receiving in light of the "Operationalization" or the Reserves. We are fighting our nation's wars on the cheap...using Reservists more while Congress and the Pentagon refuse to increase the size of our AD military. The result has been the overuse of the Reserves. Okay, enough said...just my two cents worth. Sorry if I'm preaching to the choir!

airish said...

LTC Priselac, don't really want to quarrel with your math, but if your friend served 32 years beginning at age 17 (the earliest realistic point in time), he would have retired when he was 49. That's hardly nearly 20 years. But anyway, regardless of equities here, the real problem will be keeping what you have now, not trying to get more. I'm happy to be in the gray zone, b/c it's less likely that I am going to be screwed out of my retired pay than if I were a 40 YO MAJ at this point. Just the way it is. Don't get me started on how we are going to be means tested out of our SS either on the premise that we can't afford to pay what the baby boomers were promised over the years. It's going to be the biggest issue over the next 5 years or so.

LTC Ralph Mitchell, USAR (ret) said...

Maybe the ONLY way we can keep from getting screwed out of our benefits is by taking either of the two following courses of action:

COA-1: Become a whole lot more confrontational when it comes to DoD, Congress and the Senate. Make it a point to identify those who do NOT support an Early Retirement for Reservists and let our members and their familes that reside in their districts KNOW that if not for "those" elected officials, there would have been more $$$ coming into their family budgets. How they decide to vote would be completely confidential. But I know that if I was in their place and I knew that some Politician had refused legislation that would have put some immedate $$$$ in my hands ... I would vote to put him/her out of office just as quick as I could. Wouldn't you?

COA-2: Contact the AFL/CIO and look at forming a Union of some sort. This way there would be labor negotiations and written contracts that would prevent cuts in benefits. As an "old-timer", I remember about 15 years ago when CHAMPUS ceased to exist and military retirees suddenly found themselves having to buy Medicare Supplements to cover what Tricare would not. There had been a whole lot of controversy and there was even a Class Action Law Suit filed against DoD by some retired Generals who claimed that back in the day when they first came in there had been the promise of life time healthcare for retirees. But unfortunatley there had never been any written contracts, no federal legislation and they lost in court. Had there been a Labor Union with written contracts already in place ... they would have won!

As a note of comparison, just look at the Law Enforcement agencies at the state level and within every major urban area. The benefits of police officers are protected by written contracts that came from labor negotiations. Many of them only work 4 days a week without overtime pay; and can retire after 20 years and get a retiree check just like AD military. Although they have to pay union dues, it is very well worth the money when you look at their paychecks and see that a police captain equivalent to a field grade military officer in terms of age, foraml education, unit responsibility and professional training is paid nearly three times what an active duty O6 in the military gets; not to mention very lucrative "golden parachutes" if they ever have to face a force reduction. What do we get? Screwed!

Perhaps Hollywood Director Michael Moore (the same guy who produced films such as Fahrenheit 911, Roger & Me, Sicko) is looking for a new documentary idea and would consider doing an expose on how Uncle Sam has been fighting these two wars "on the cheap" by over-using Guard & Reserve troops that have never gotten the resources (ie: funding) that has been given to AD personnel. He could easily focus on the lack of parity between Active Duty Personnel and those who serve in the Guard & Reserves. There would indeed be a LOT of materials for him to show in a movie and maybe it would embarass the "powers that be" within the Pentagon into quickly addressing some of these problems.

If I was to establish contact with Michael Moore, would any of you out there be interested in speaking with him? Just let me know!

Anonymous said...

Parity was supposed to be through the points system...less points for reserve service (4)than the ave. (3) for AD multiplied times the qualified rate for grade equals retirement pay.

Where the ROA and others have left us short in representation is in the differentiation in equitable time to the retirment pay. AD = post 20 years service. Reserve/Guard = post age 60 with 20 years of service.

While respective of peer feedback and the AD, any attempts to validate the reserve/guard retirement as fair and equitable will fall on deaf ears and blind eyes; while the stench will continue to irritate and permeate both the mucous membranes and the pocket books of those of us who have faithfully served.

Anonymous said...

The above post has incorrect number for reference. It should read.....

Parity was supposed to be afforded through the points system...less points per month are generally applied for reserve/guard service (4 per month) than the ave. (30 per month) for AD multiplied with cummulative points times the qualified rate for grade equals retirement pay.

Where the ROA and others have left us short in representation is in the differentiation in equitable time to the retirment pay.

AD = post 20 years service with no age requirement.

Reserve/Guard = post age 60 with 20 years of service.

Anonymous said...

I wish that there was parity with the active component. I was required to take CGSC by unpaid weekends on my dime. I was to drive 50 miles to the training on my dime. In order to be promotted to LTC I had to complete the training on my dime over a two years time and not on drill status. Where is the parity?

MAJ SG USAR (ret)

Anonymous said...

Maj SG:

If only the ROA would listen to members and represent these views for PARITY, instead they turn the other cheek and a deaf ear.

There should be PARITY. Instead there is INEQUITY and DISSATISFACTION.

How can we encourage other officers to join the ROA when they leave us far less than optimally represented on topics like this?

Anonymous said...

Y'all folks who are whining about how you had it so hard in the Reserve and then bitch about wanting parity in retirement are on crack. Why not recognize all the stuff ROA has done for us? I'm a young reservist today and I don't have to deal with the bull that you people had to deal with like not being reimbursed for IDT travel and being allowed more points per year and being paid to go to school. ROA did all those things for me because your generation voiced concern, so thank you for that. I've deployed twice. I've pulled my fair share of extended Active duty and now, Congress through early retirement recognizes my service. Even though some of it was before 2008, I'm not going to complain about not getting that counted for retirement. You knew the age-60 caveat when you signed on the dotted line. If you didn't like it, then you should have resigned. Why on earth you think you should get the same retirement as somebody who spends 24/7 ON DUTY is beyond me. You're a reservist. This is not your primary job. Get your own 401K. If we keep collectively bitching for benefits, we are going to price ourselves out of a job. The spitting ATM machine called DOD has run out of money. Read the writing on the wall, shut up and color.

Anonymous said...

I echo the person above, although there is still some work to be done on the things you mention ROA has done for us. But its a start.

Anonymous said...

QUIT CRYING. I don't know about the rest of you, but when I affiliated with the Reserve the rules were AGE 60. Now. Sure, it would be nice to get the pension before then, but the contract I signed was for 60. The contract did not say, "unless recalled" because it was always understood recall was part of the deal. So...whaddyaknow, we end up in a war and get recalled. So now we're supposed to get our butts kissed? Not! Some of you may have joined the Reserve for money. I came back because I missed the challenge, mission, and people. I am proud of that. So, if early retirement happens, great, but if not, then AGE 60 WAS THE ORIGINAL ARRANGEMENT. I don't need any sympathy, attention or dispensation. I can therefore say my service was exactly that: service to the nation. Those of you claiming discrimination and all the other cop-out buzzwords are operating under a different set of morals than me...selfish ones! If you didn't like the Age 60 provison when you affiliated, then you shouldn't have signed the contract. You are getting EXACTLY WHAT YOU SIGNED UP FOR. QUIT CRYING. (this comment written by an Iraq, Afghan, Pakistan, Kosovo, and Bosnia voluntarily recalled reservist, from 2001 - 2009).

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

Hey, downtrodden unemployed homeless bums: have you not been following the news? DoD has been directed to cut $100 billion. That's a 25% budget cut. Put the wine bottle down, drag your ass up out of the gutter, stop harassing and begging people passing you on the street, AND GET A LIFE. I sure hope I didn't serve with some of you whiners because if I did I would OFFICIALLY DISOWN YOU.

Anonymous said...

Agree with some of the other comments regarding LIMITING early retirement to those who earned the Camapaign Medal. I know of too many reservists taking full advantage of the 'mobilization loop hole' by serving in stateside billets and reaping early retirement credit. Let's stop the insanity!

ReserveOfficer said...

A reminder to posters: please refrain from personal put-downs; we had to delete one anonymous comment. Thanks

Anonymous said...

ROA used to be so much more than a "lobbying group" whose sole purpose is to get more, more, and even more.

It's easy to sit up there at 1 Constitution Ave, NE and lobby for more benefits, more money, more of everything when you don't have to pay the bill.

I have an idea, why doesn't ROA write the Government a check for $2B and all us Reservist's can have more?

Now I know why I don't participate in ROA events anymore. Although I am a life member.

Anonymous said...

The ROA was never 'more than'. They have been 'less than' for years and that is why there is more of a demand for the ROA as a lobbying organization.

Retirement parity after 20 years is just one example of a failure to represent members and to make equitable strides for over 40 years.

How many of my fellow members and potential members truthfully believe that "The ROA Charter" motivates existing or potential members. The Charter the ROA is hanging its outdated hat on is what we reservists, guardsmen, or retirees should be already afforded by the employer-government; not an agency to which we 'must pay' to less than effectively represent us.

ReserveOfficer said...

To the Aug. 25 anonymous poster: it is unfortunate you feel ROA has become an irresponsible lobbying group whose "sole purpose" is to grab more and more money. That simply is not the case. Advocacy is a critical aspect of ROA's national security mandate, and we follow that mandate and work hard to represent the interests of our members and all service men and women here in Washington (see advocacy successes at ROA's website). To suggest we don't have to pay the bill is inaccurate - we are all taxpayers. Furthermore, ROA recognizes, and has educated about the threat of the federal deficit to national security. ROA, like other organizations in Washington, isn't demanding more spending, it's demanding wiser spending, and although it's impossible to reach a consensus on how to spend every taxpayer dollar, ROA will continue to be involved in the decision-making process.

Anonymous said...

ROA:

Do you not believe that wiser spending would, at the absolute minimum, give equal retirement credit back to 9/11/2001, let alone the true measure of equity - PARITY with AD?

You are misusing your skewed definition of advocacy as an excuse for your poor performance.

The ROA is not demanding wiser spending if it is not demanding fairness for the ROA members.

ROA membership losses and low enrollment numbers represent (better - reflect) the lost faith in the advocacy and value of the ROA.

The opportunity costs of continuing to support a less than effective organization have proven to be too burdensome for many existing and former members, making it impossible to recommend the ROA or advocate for the ROA to potential members.

I know that this is a painful message, but so too have been the painful results and false promises we have experienced with respect to reserve/guard retirement.

ReserveOfficer said...

ROA's lower enrollment numbers reflect a lower overall strength of the Reserve component. We've always had the same percentage of available membership to actual members. It also reflects the fact we are finally being judicious in researching member deaths. The last thing our lower membership reflects is a lack of action at the grass roots level. Retention occurs at the chapter level and the membership needs to do more for itself in that regard. Out recruiting numbers, however are steady.


Overall, the legislative actions of the national staff reflect the direction the membership has set. Absolute reserve retirement parity as you have suggested is Not one of those priorities. Our reserve retirement focus today regards getting the 9/11 reservists credit for early retirement by backdating the 2008 NDAA ruling. We have made slow and steady progress since 2006 when we first recognized this necessity. First in 2008 with the ruling of equal time subtracted from age 60 for service after 2008 for every 90 consecutive days of service. And then this year correcting the law to not break those 90 days if they cross fiscal years.


Any criticism of our efforts to the contrary are misinformed and do not reflect an understanding of the realities facing Congress, DoD or how things operate in the real world on the hill.


At the national staff, we call Those who provide such frequent criticism on single issue items that are out to benefit themselves versus the entire reserve "frequent flyers." We welcome your interaction and we recognize we will never be able to convince you of the truth. Therefore, let's cease this debate in this forum for now.

Anonymous said...

All of the comments relating to early retirement are justified. Look at how many reservists were called up on multiple deployments orsupport activities after 9-11. Think of the numerous military personnel who walked the halls of our airportsand got nothing. The othere side of this is the grey area retirements that have personnel trying to replace income lost.

The biggest shocker I found was after being told by my service that I must retire, I found that my family healthcare costs escalated from approximately $200 a month to over (GET THIS!!!), $1000.00 per month.. Sure I earned my healthcare and a hit on the head with a baseball bat. Of course should we be thankful we get healthcare in the grey area? I guess but, thre price is sure high. We needto wake up Congress and the Congressional Budget Office. Hey Mr. President what about the military retirees who have served well..

I will place my support behind MOAA to make a change..NOTE a big change!

LtColonel forced to retire and feel the hurt of the costs...

OldTom said...

Regarding number 8 (in LTC Ralph Mitchell's first comment):

"8. Income to replace Drill Pay after mustering out and going into the "Gray Area" is NOT easy to find; especially for somebody who was a senior NCO or a commissioned officer who has dignity and warrants more respect than some entry level job at a minimum wage that would be more suitable for teenagers."

I may not now be nor have ever been a commissioned officer or a senior NCO, but I certainly feel that my 24 years of service in the National Guard warrants more dignity and respect than your comment implies. Commissioned officers and senior NCO's are not more equal pigs. Each and every human who has served in the uniform deserves dignity and respect. I realize that this is a Reserve OFFICER web site, but make not that mistake many have made and assume we are all chattel. I'm willing to believe this is just an oversight on your part rather than some institutionally ingrained sense of entitlement.

And surely you're not suggesting that those who were not commissioned officers or senior NCOs are only fit for "some entry level job at a minimum wage that would be more suitable for teenagers."


Regarding Ross's "concerning parity with the AD – I’ll just limit myself to the math..."

(I'm imperfect, but hope to be constructive...)

365 (days a year) X 20 (years service) = 7300

This roughly equals 50% of your base pay in retirement. Serve 20 AC years, get 50%. I earned 3800 points in 24+ years, doing the math that's roughly around 10.5260273 years of active duty. It's not a stretch to think I should receive 25% of my base pay. Yet I realize the issues are far more complex than my playground math.


Now, my beefs having been aired, pray continue the good fight on this issue. Your efforts can benefit far more than your membership. And that's what serving was all about, wasn't it?

At the end of the day, (or at least this comment) some extra money earlier than I was promised would be icing on my cake. If not, well there's always some teenager's minimum wage job I can take.....

Anonymous said...

This ROA stereotyped "Frequent Flyer" also "Life Member" agrees wiith Old Tom and his math for PARITY, but after 20 years. ROA, hopefully someday you will understand how disconnected you have been all these years. This Frequent Flyer will continue to point out your poor results in the area of reserve retirement at every available opportunity and as "Frequently" as possible. It is nice to know that our membership dollars have been used for back office meetings deciding upon names to call members. Thank you for revealing your true colors. Your members are far more educated than you may choose to believe!

Anonymous said...

Just reading some of the comments and I agree that the ROA has let us down. I do not believe there should be any compromise on early retirement. The only thing we should settle on is 55 period or nothing a all. We reservists have settled for handouts far to long from benifits to training and equipment. We have always gotten whats left over.

Anonymous said...

Well, for all of you who were complaining about not having parity with the AD folk, you may get your wish. The draft of the Deficit Commission report is out, and it recommends, among other things, reforming (i.e., lowering) COLA payments for civilian & military retirees and changing military retirement system to vest after 10 years (not 20), but deferring. collection until age 60. If you are interested in reading it, go to http://www.fiscalcommission.gov/sites/fiscalcommission.gov/files/documents/CoChair_Draft.pdf

Anonymous said...

Let us pray that the ROA doesn't suggest any additional changes to reserve retirement or get involved in this debate.

With their poor efforts, all we have experienced is a disturbing negligible change to earlier retirement, disrespectful and still leaving out those who served after 9/11/2001.

Does anyone hear the ROA rattling the sabers about inequities?

ReserveOfficer said...

ROA is glad that this contribution to the blog highlights these recommendations. ROA has been tracking suggested changes to Active Duty as well as Reserve Retirement since 2003, when a similar plan was first suggested. In October 2005 on page 15 of The Officer magazine, CAPT Hanson, ROA Legislative Director published an article entitled “Why DoD doesn’t want Age-55 retirement,” which details then Secretary Rumsfeld’s plans to change the Active Duty retirement. Plans such as this and the Deficit Commissions recommendations date back to a 1998 RAND study.

Before any change can be made it must be approved by Congress, and is very unlikely to be retroactive to those currently serving. Unfortunately, such dramatic change would create two generations with retirement benefits, with a younger group earning less retirement than an older cadre.

airish said...

The recommendations of the Fiscal Commission (technically, those of the co-chairs) are not surprising -- in fact, I predicted something much like this in my previous posts from August. The reality is that we have not only an unsustainable deficit, but an accelerating deficit gap. There are no easy fixes for this, as the fiscal commission notes.

Unfortunately, one of the major drivers of our fiscal problems at all levels of government is the cost of retirement. This is true for DOD as well, where pay and benefits for retirees will increasingly crowd out operations, RDE, and weapons systems. There is undoubtedly some fat that can be cut in procurement and on the contractor side, but those savings are to some extent already claimed by Sec. Gates.

The reality is that just like it’s not fiscally sustainable for municipalities to fund large pensions for retired police officers, etc., for 30 or 40 years, DOD can’t afford to have perfectly healthy retired O-5s and above drawing substantial military pensions from their early 40s in many cases. We all know people who have double and even triple dipped during their careers – even more so since the bar to retired regular officers taking government positions was lifted. It’s great for them, but we can’t really afford it. I’m not sure why the retired pay system was set up the way it is, but I assume the idea was that it was to take care of “old soldiers” who were completely broken down from hard manual labor (long marches, digging trenches, etc.) Hardly the case with officers (and NCOs) who spend most of their careers in front of a computer screen. All in all, that was low-hanging fruit for the commission. Perhaps not “fair,” but we are not going to be able to deal with our fiscal problems without taking steps that some, or even many, will consider unfair.

airish said...

To follow up my earlier post, I note that the Co-chair recommendations also include vesting military retired pay after 10 years vs. the current 20. If implemented, this may have big implications for both the AC and RC, and may also make feasible the oft-touted concept of making the wall between the components more permeable. A 10 year vesting period will undoubtedly incent more people to consider a career that might take them through O-3, which is where the military still wants you (vs. O-6, where you are often made to feel somewhat unwelcome).

This, in conjunction with a gray area for both AC and RC, means there may be no incentive to hang in there in what may have become an unfulfilling career just to get your "20.” Similarly, one outcome may be less careerism in the military, which is probably a good thing. It might also make an RC career nearly as attractive as an AC career to most people, given that it makes the incentives very much the same (assuming no changes in the current RC system). All in all, things may be moving closer to parity, but not in the direction most of the posters seem to have wanted.

PHIL REEL USAR RET said...

Any comment suggesting the ROA has not done enough does not go far enough. I was mobbed at the pentagon before going to CENTCOM and Afghanistan and the ROA is considered a joke by the National Guard bureau. Their main concern is Active duty retirement and keeping military commissary open. The idea that the ROA has done anything to support the Army Reserve and the men and women that serve is a joke. I only regret that I supported the organization for 10 years with my dues.
LTC Phil Reel USAR RET

Anonymous said...

Thank you LTC Reed. I holistically agree with your perspective.