Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Reserve retirement age reduction pending again

Army Times provides information on the renewed attempt by Congress to lower the Reserve Retirement age for Mobilized soldiers this week.

On the table: Early reservist retirement pay

By Rick Maze - Staff writer
Posted : Monday Mar 23, 2009 17:34:54 EDT

Retirement benefits for National Guard and reserve members, especially those mobilized for extended periods since Sept. 11, 2001, will be part of the focus of a Tuesday hearing when members of the Senate Armed Services Committee review reserve personnel issues.
Drawing attention will be House and Senate bills that would expand on a 2008 law by making retroactive a formula that allows a Guard or reserve member to receive a military retirement check 90 days earlier for every 90 days of active-duty service.
Sen. Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., is the chief sponsor of the Senate bill, S 644. Rep. Joe Wilson, R-S.C., is the chief sponsor of the House bill, HR 208.

This effort should be supported…it reflects a consideration for the increased reliance and sacrifice of reserve soldiers since the Global War on Terror (now called Overseas Contingency Operation by our current administration) began. The bill in its current form would make it possible for an earlier retirement pay date for Retired Reserve soldiers that have been mobilized since September 11th, 2001.

This is a reasonable accommodation for Reserve component soldiers that have sacrificed along side active component soldiers. The incentive in this is to offer Reserve soldiers something for the time away from civilian jobs, families, and pursuits. It has no immediate equal program for Active duty soldiers it is true, however Active component soldiers receive full retirement and Medical starting the day they retire rather than Grey area benefits given to Reserve Soldiers.

Grey Area Benefits are few…ability to shop at PX/Commissary, use Military facilities for Reserve Soldiers that are often no where near such facilities. No pay, medical benefits are provided.

I urge Reserve Soldiers past and present to drop a note to your Senators and Representative and ask them to support this bill. This effort is still being fought by the Pentagon (composed of Active Duty Soldiers) and we need to overcome that resistance.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Army’s efforts to prevent suicide

Recently in my civilian job I have seen the Army’s Suicide prevention training effort. This effort has been directed by the Secretary of the Army as a first phase of a campaign to reduce the number of suicides within the Army community.

As is my usual custom I offer some observations;

1. The training is good. For a change the training has decent production values and presents well to the audience. Although the training is centered to soldiers, the lessons translate effectively to civilians.

2. The issue of suicide prevention has always been of concern to Army Leadership. The matter of the reasons and causes of suicide are not clear to anyone…many under care of the expert’s still commit suicide reflecting our not complete understanding of the problem.

3. There are resources out there that are not performing screening, mental health service proactively to returning soldiers. In addition, soldiers that separate, retire after combat service are stuck with a dysfunctional and understaffed VA process. Those former soldiers are not counted in the statistics that are the catalyst for this effort by the Army.

Suicide prevention is being taken seriously by the Army. Now if treatment and support services by the VA could catch up.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

My Army Reserve Blogspot

Just discovered My Army Reserve Blog

This site provides Reserve Soldiers some inside information on the Partnering Effort the Army Reserve is doing.

The Army Reserve has signed partnership agreements with more than 200 employers in nearly every state. Opportunities exist with Fortune 500 companies, healthcare centers, law enforcement agencies, transportation companies, state and federal agencies and many more.

The Army Reserve has developed an EPI job bank Web site for Soldiers. career advisers are also available to help Soldiers achieve their career goals. Additionally, EPI field representatives are deployed across the country to connect Soldiers with employers who are eager to hire them.

Sounds good... every effort to employ our soldiers and recognize the partnership that Civilian and Military organizations must have is forward progress.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Army publishes first Reserve Retirement Guide

This article just hit my desk... looks like a pretty good guide to procedures and process for Retired Reserve soldiers. Covers about all major area and has actual links to useful sites related to Veteran's administration, etc... worth a browse...

WASHINGTON (Army News Service, March 4, 2009) -- The Army has created a Retirement Guide just for Army Reserve Soldiers and their families.

The 26-page Army Reserve Non-regular Retirement Information Guide was written specifically to cover the unique circumstances of Reserve retirement.

Publishing this guide will make it much easier for reserve-component Soldiers to understand the chronological steps they need to take before their actual retirement.

The Guide is in the process of being distributed through the Reserve. In the meantime, it's available online on both the Army G-1 Retirement Services homepage at http://www.armyg1.army.mil/retire, under the "What's New" tab and on the special Army Knowledge Online site for Army Retirees at https://www.us.army.mil/suite/page/559734

Who says this site cannot provide some useful information at times...

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Lisa Pagan VS the Army

Sometimes my Army gets it wrong… They are roughly treating a former Active Component soldier that has been ordered back to active Duty 4 years after departing the army. Lisa Pagan has been told that she will be discharged from the Army and the discharge may be something other than Honorable. This woman reported for Army duty with her two young children will be separated - The reason - is that she doesn't have, and cannot have, an adequate family care for her two young children.

She entered active duty in 2002, served three years on Active Duty and received an Honorable discharge upon her release in 2005. This soldier was put in the IRR after her service and in 2007 she was asked to come back on active duty. The Army called her up, she appealed, was denied, and she reported as ordered. She brought her children…. She couldn’t leave them alone at home. The Army has started screening and processing of her, then decided to provide a discharge.

I have to ask a couple questions at this point
1. How did the Army not use some common sense in dealing with this issue which required the former soldier to obtain legal counsel to resolve?
2. Is the potential of any soldier worth the poor PR that this fairly clear cut case will do for IRR program. Recruiting?
3. When does the Army permit a soldiers obligation to end…is IRR really useful with less than 50% returning to the ranks?
4. She is on duty as ordered…is there a stateside assignment in need of her skills with daycare available?

I have to say… sometimes the Army poorly handles its former employees… in this case, not recognizing that former soldiers are entitled to get on with their lives. This individual served… something 98% of this country’s youth does not do.

Time to let common sense prevail… She gets kudos for answering the call, now twice, rather than running to Canada. She reported as ordered in 2002 and again in 2008. She has filed her appeals which are well within her rights and still the Army insisted on her return to duty. It is time for the Army to resolve the issue and cut the Honorable discharge document.

Lisa – thanks for serving in the past and please don’t think the worse of my Army…I suspect it’s a few knotheads that allowed this to progress to this stage…we don’t all think the response is appropriate.