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Retirement Services

What is it?
The Army Retirement Services program prepares Soldiers and their Families for military retirement and then provides support to them after retirement. The Army Retirement Services Division, under the Army G-1 Human Resources Policy Directorate, sets and directs the policy for this program, coordinating its implementation through a network of Retirement Services Officers (RSOs) at major military installations worldwide.

What has the Army done?
In September 1955, the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Manpower and Personnel directed that all services look into establishing a Retired Activities Branch. On November 14, 1955, the Chief of Staff, Army (CSA) and the Army Deputy Chief of Staff for Personnel responded by creating a Retired Activities Unit as part of The Adjutant General's office. In March 1956, a message from the CSA, GEN Maxwell Taylor, to about 100,000 retired Soldiers was the lead article in the first issue of the Retired Army Personnel Bulletin (now Army Echoes). This publication serves as the vehicle to keep retired Soldiers posted on the Army and their retirement rights and benefits.

Over the years, the program expanded from one headquarters office to the network of installation RSOs. The Army is the only branch of Service that employs full-time RSOs. The RSOs brief retiring Soldiers and Families on the rights and benefits that they can expect in retirement as well as on the many decisions they will need to make as they prepare to retire. Key among these decisions is whether or not to enroll in the Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP), the only way that part of a Soldier's retired pay can continue to be paid to Family members after the death of the retiree. Also, spouses of Soldiers who die in the line of duty are counseled concerning the Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP) so that they can make the best election for their Families.

The Army has further reinforced the connection between retired Soldiers and the Army through the creation of retiree councils at Headquarters, Department of the Army (HQDA) and at various installations. The CSA Retiree Council and Installation Retiree Councils give retired Soldiers a formal venue for voicing their concerns to Army leaders, both at the headquarters and installation level. Installation Retiree Councils tackle local issues affecting retirees. They forward issues with Army-wide impact to the CSA Retiree Council to be taken up at their annual meeting at the Pentagon.

What continued efforts does Army have planned for the future?

In conjunction with the Installation Management Command (IMCOM), Army Retirement Services is working to ensure that RSOs can deliver common levels of support to all retiring and retired Soldiers and Families regardless of their location or their component.

Every retiring and retired Soldier is served by an RSO, regardless of their proximity to a major military installation or their status in the Active or Reserve Components. As the recommendations of the 2005 Base Realignment and Closure Commission are put into effect, Army Retirement Services, IMCOM, and RSOs will work together to realign responsibilities where necessary to ensure that all retiring and retired Soldiers and Families continue to receive the support due to them.

Army Retirement Services has also begun work with both the U.S. Army Reserve (USAR) and Army National Guard (ARNG) to ensure that these Soldiers receive the same retirement support as their Active Component counterparts. This mission is being carried on with the assignment of USAR and ARNG liaison officers to HQDA Retirement Services.

To further enhance communication with retiring and retired Soldiers, Army Retirement Services and installation RSOs publish retirement information and news online, through the G-1 Web site at and RSO sections of installation web sites.

Why is this important to the Army?
Retired Soldiers and their Families have given much to the Army—most have served more than twenty years. Some have been 'medically retired' because of injuries that prevent them from staying in the Army. The Army owes all Soldiers assistance in preparing for the retirement they have earned, as well as continued support during their retirement.

Retired Soldiers continue to tell the Army story, increasing support for the Army in their communities and encouraging those in the community to consider military service. The Army recognized the critical role of retired Soldiers in the recruiting mission when it declared them eligible for the $2,000 recruiting bonus. The connections that retired Soldiers establish as they settle in communities worldwide have, in effect, created Army strategic communication outposts, with a connection and commitment to both the Army and the community.

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