WASHINGTON— In an effort to provide timely benefits information to retiring and retired Soldiers, surviving spouses and their Families, the Army Reserve recently dedicated Retirement Services Offices within each Regional Support Command.
“The Army is committed to providing men and women who have selflessly served our great Nation with the resources and support necessary to posture themselves for a seamless transition to civilian life,” said retired general and former vice chief of staff of the Army Peter W. Chiarelli.
“Retirement Services Offices provide crucial retirement counseling and pre-retirement services to Soldiers and Families to aid them in making timely and informed decisions regarding their entitlements and benefits,” said Lt. Col. Kathleen Couillard, RSO pilot action officer for the United States Army Readiness Command.
RSO personnel are trained to provide quality pre-retirement services counseling to all retiring and Retired Soldiers, surviving spouses and their Families.In addition to counseling, RSOs provide post-retirement services to retired Soldiers and surviving spouses.
A decade ago Army research indicated that as Soldiers approached 18 years of service they needed more education about retirement. The Army Reserve also lacked practical systems for providing pre and post retirement services compared to their active duty and National Guard counterparts. In 2002 an Army Family Action Plan Committee recommended placement of Retirement Services Officers in each RSC to address the disparity in the Army Reserve.
“Educating these Soldiers about their retirement benefits is critical to ensuring they are able to make good decisions when they reach 20 “good” years and have to make a Reserve Component Survivor Benefit Plan election,” said Lt. Col. Twanda E. Young, RSO Policy Integrator.
The Army Reserve guides pre-retirement seminars in each RSC region and conducts a minimum of four regional seminars annually. “The program continues to make progress in permanently placing civilian staff within each RSC to ensure Soldiers receive the support they deserve during the transition process,” said Lt. Col. Young.
“The transition of all Soldiers, not just those retiring, is a process, not an event and the sooner Soldiers begin the transition process, the more successful they will be,” said Mr. John W. Radke, Chief Army Retirement Service Office.
“The establishment of Army Reserve Retirement Services offices is just one component of the Army’s unprecedented effort to ensure the resources and support provided is the very best,” said Lt. Col. Young.
To date, the Army Reserve has conducted nine pre-retirement seminars exclusively for reservists and three Joint pre-retirement seminars in conjunction with the National Guard. Over 4,100 Soldiers have received retirement services assistance since the initiation of the RSO Pilot Program.
Recent initiatives to assist Soldiers transition include a distance learning module developed between the Army National Guard and Army Reserve to prepare Soldiers for retirement.