You’ve likely seen the Military.com story quoting the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff’s comments on putting military pay and benefits “on the table” in discussing lowering costs for the military. This is really nothing new, but in light of a recent agreement in Congress to increase Tricare enrollment fees for military retirees, signs that the end might be near in combat operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, and reductions in military spending ahead, political leaders may be inclined to go along with his recommendations.
If you’ve served in the last 30 years you’ve seen suggestions like this before. In the mid-80’s the REDUX retirement plan was introduced, and the end of the “Final Pay” retirement calculation in favor of the “High 3 Average.”
You are likely to see several measures considered over the next three to five years.
- The end of the immediate collection retirement for new enlistees: Military retirees would collect their retirements similar to reservists. After a minimum of 20 years of service, the member would become eligible to collect their retirement when they turn 60.
- Earlier vesting with TSP matching: The military could begin matching member TSP contributions (which they are now permitted by law to do), perhaps connected to a second enlistment, or extended active-duty service commitment. If this measure were combined with deletion of high-year tenure measures (which would allow service members to serve 40-years or more), this might replace the current retirement system.
- Continued increases in Tricare enrollment fees.
- Requiring military retirees with access to health insurance from another source to use it.
- Reductions in access to Commissaries (or closing military commissaries all together).
- Ending or significantly reducing educational benefits for officers.
- Ending spouse benefits for education or job training.
While these suggestions are alarming for those currently serving, it is unlikely that they would be adopted for them. Instead, we’re likely to see a more gradual shift that effects those entering the service over the next decade. If that is not the case, we’ll join with organizations like the American Legion, VFW, MOAA, and others who fight for us in Congress.