FORT RUCKER, Ala. -- The Department of Defense will introduce a new, enterprise-wide retirement system in 2018 and an upcoming seminar will arm Soldiers with the knowledge they need to make the best choice for their futures.

Soldiers joining the Army on Jan. 1 and beyond will be enrolled into the blended retirement system, which was instituted by the 2016 National Defense Authorization Act, and some current service members will have the option to opt into the new system, according to an Army press release.

Soldiers with less than 12 years of active duty service, and National Guard and Reserve members with less than 4,320 points, will have until Dec. 31, 2018, to either remain in the current system or opt into the blended retirement system, according to the release.

"The Blended Retirement Seminar will be a useful resource for Soldiers who are eligible to opt in, as well as leaders and families. [Topics discusses will include] how retirement pay is calculated, continuation pay, and [Thrift Savings Plan] matching contributions," Jo Anne Close, Army Community Service financial counselor, said. "[People can expect to gain] a better understanding of what the BRS has to offer compared to the Legacy (High-3) System."

The seminar takes places Feb. 22 from 6-7 p.m. at the Soldier Service Center, Bldg. 5700, Rm. 282.

Attendees will take part in a discussion of the significant aspects of BRS including how retirement pay is calculated, continuation pay and the TSP with matching contributions.

"The BRS is the new retirement system the military is moving toward," Close said. "With this new system, there are some significant changes when compared to the Legacy (High-3) Retirement System. BRS has the potential to create a level playing field when compared to the civilian market.

"An individual can work for a civilian company and, after a few short years, walk away with some retirement savings," she added. "Whereas, with the Legacy System, only 19 percent of active duty forces complete the 20 years [required] for retirement. The main component changes for the BRS compared to the Legacy are the pension, the matching opportunity for TSP, continuation pay and the lump sum options."

The discussion will be facilitated by accredited ACS financial counselors. Space is not limited for this free seminar and free child care is available with registration.

"Eligible Soldiers should attend the seminar, even if they do not think they will switch," Close said. "For 2017, this is the education year so that Soldiers can make a well-informed decision in 2018. In addition, every service member, even if they are not eligible, should attend. This is because, as a leader, there will be Soldiers that ask you about the BRS. By attending the seminar, leaders will be better prepared to answer Soldiers' questions."

BRS seminars will be held monthly, including March 22 and April 19 from 6-7 p.m. at Bldg. 5700, Rm. 282.

"Over the last six months, new information pertaining to the BRS has been released every couple of months," Close said. "This is an opportunity for Soldiers to ask questions or sort out information they have already learned or heard about -- to separate fact from fiction. Because every person has different learning styles, this seminar is an opportunity to present the information in (an individual's) language, and provide an opportunity for questions because not everyone speaks the financial language.

"Soldiers are encouraged to take the opt-in course at Joint Knowledge Online," she added. "Leaders are encouraged to take the Leadership Course on JKO."

For more information or to register, call 255-3765 or 255-9631 or visit https://rucker.armymwr.com/us/rucker/programs/army-community-service/.