The term Gray Area Retiree does not apply to the gray hair some Army Retirees may accumulate while in service. Although I certainly have a few as I’m often reminded by my kids ( I think they caused them). This term is used as Army Official lingo to describe the Army Reserve or Guard soldier that have transferred to the Retired Reserve after 20 Years of service but have not yet reached age 60.
Typically a Gray Area Retiree soldier in the Guard or Reserve will serve 20-30 years and complete the transfer from Active Reserve service to the Retired Reserve. Still subject to call up if needed, the former soldier is classified as a gray area retiree until he/she reaches age 60 when they are entitle to the same retirement benefits as those that retire from Active duty. For many Reserve soldiers this means that if you no longer participate in drills or remain in a drill status you file for transfer (when stop loss is not in effect) – typically you may range in age from 37- 60 years old.
Now that I’m one of those Gray Area Retirees, I’m a little struck with the disposal of so many former soldiers to absolute obscurity – Gray Area Retirees could be used to augment overworked Reserve Staffs to train, complete administrative tasks, provide audit or logistical functions, maintain training unit libraries, prepare unit training plans, assist planning and execution. I wonder if something more can be made of their talents.
Typical of this Blog I had a few ideas:
Gray Area Retirees cannot drill for points under current rules, a tremendous disincentive for offering any real effort to assist Guard or Reserve units. Offering Retirement points for a senior retired Reserve NCO or Officer costs the Army little money (one point equals 30-60 cents a month when the reservist starts receiving retirement pay at age 60).
Gray Area Retirees have skills honed over years of service – basic military skills like administration, logistics, training, etc can be completed by Gray Area Retirees replacing the need for in house unit allocation of resources which need to train.
Gray Area Retirees have a wide host of skills. Many have deployed, done many Annual Trainings and intimately know the workings in a Reserve unit.
Gray Area Retirees have access to military Facilities as a benefit thus enabling assistance that requires access to installation support agencies even during most heightened security periods.
Gray Area Retirees can be used to augment Family Readiness Groups during unit deployments. Remember many of them know the Army Bureaucracy and processes.
Training of non-deployable or entry level soldiers in basic skills, annual mandatory training, PMI, and other training could be provided by GAR teams to regions to relieve local commands from resourcing active reserve soldiers to the mission.
How would I implement?
Gray Area Retirees would request and be accepted formally to support a local unit
Only Retired Reserve or Guard soldiers would be considered.
Gray Area Retirees would not wear uniforms or rank – Civilian Clothes - Treated as Civilian Volunteers.
Gray Area Retirees would only be used for classroom and at the Reserve Center training, planning and administrative tasks. No field or hazardous training events.
Gray Area Retirees would serve without regard for rank – therefore a retired LTC / CSM could support a Company Command team doing what the Co Cdr required or requested.
Gray Area Retirees would serve at the convenience of the Reserve unit. The Reserve unit would verify hours of service and support provided using 1380 form.
Retirement points would accrue as done now for IRR soldiers. ARPERCEN would document and add to Retired Reservist account.
What does this give us? – a program that continues to harvest the volunteer spirit and years of experience for recently retired Reserve and Guard soldiers. It is low cost and would potentially provide extra hands to Reserve and Guard units from the most qualified individuals available in local communities. It provides a mutual event that keeps Gray Area Retirees in touch with Reserve and Guard units instead of obscure and detached former soldiers. Is it worth considering?