FORT HUACHUCA, Ariz. -- Earl Nightingale, motivational speaker and author, said, “As in all successful ventures, the foundation of a good retirement is planning.” When preparing for military retirement, these words cannot ring more true.

Although a Soldier cannot submit a retirement request before serving 19 years of service, planning for a military retirement should begin at least a year before the intended retirement date, but no later than nine months before, according to Fort Huachuca's retirement out-processing timeline.

Retirement guidelines are covered in Army Regulation 635-200 for enlisted Soldiers and AR 600-8-24 for officers, but the best source of retirement guidance on the fort is the Retirement Services Office, Whitside Hall (building 41330), room 6.

“We want our retiring Soldiers to come see us first, before doing anything, said Rosalie Monge, Retirement Services officer. “That way, we can dispel any rumors and set them on the right path.”

Upon visiting the RSO, retiring Soldiers will receive a retirement out-processing timeline and a helping hand.

“We'll give them the pre-retirement information and an example packet, and then we pretty much hold their hand throughout the entire retirement process,” she said. “They need to know not to cut themselves short. They need to give themselves plenty of time for preplanning and planning.”

The Army's official pre-retirement website ( recommends attending a retirement briefing as early as 24 months before separation. “It makes the transition much smoother on them,” she agreed, and she should know because she also helped her husband through the military retirement process.

The formal, concrete steps are laid before a transitioning Soldier via regulations and the RSO, but what about the psychological impact of retiring from military service? Rafael Monge, criminal analyst, Criminal Investigative Division, here, and a retired sergeant first class, offered a few observations following his own retirement.

“You are no longer anticipating a PCS [permanent change of station] move every couple of years, which provides stability with other family members,” he said. “But, at the same time, when you get close to that 3-year mark, you start to feel that need to move " it's in your lifestyle.”

The emotional and psychological impact of transitioning to the civilian workforce can be more stressful or demeaning for senior leaders who are essentially starting a new career in a new environment according to Monge. “When you retire as an E-7 or below, you [might not] feel the impact as much,” said Monge. “But the higher ranking Soldiers suddenly find that their rank means nothing. It can be really difficult for them to handle.”

Retiring from the military can be a daunting task, but it does not have to be. Begin early; visit the RSO;
talk to retirees and other veterans; and make an appointment with a counselor to help you through one of the most important transitions of your life. With all the resources available here, no one has to go it alone.