Retirement Services Program
Regular Army: Active Duty
Benefit Fact Sheet
The Army Soldier for Life Retirement Services Program provides assistance to Soldiers and their Families preparing for and transitioning to retirement, Families of Soldiers who die on active duty and Retired Soldiers, surviving Spouses and their Families. Through a network of Retirement Services Officers (RSOs) at major Army installations, National Guard State Headquarters, and Army Reserve Regional Support Commands worldwide, they: 1) provide counseling to these groups on their rights, benefits and entitlements, 2) assist with Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP) elections, 3) assist with Reserve Component Survivor Benefit Plan (RCSBP) elections and 4) keep the retiree population informed of law and benefit changes.
Pre-retirement services of installation RSOs are available to all active duty Soldiers and their Families. Post-retirement program services are available to all Retired Soldiers, surviving Spouses and their Families. Installation RSOs can provide information and referral to Reservists not yet in receipt of retired pay.
Major program components include:
- Mandatory Pre-retirement Orientation-Active duty Soldiers must attend a pre-retirement briefing with an RSO between the time their retirement application is submitted and at least 12 months before their official retirement date (or the date of departure on transition leave). In cases where a Soldier requests to retire in less than 12 months, the Soldier will attend the next group pre-retirement brief or receive an individual pre-retirement brief from an RSO.
- Mandatory Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP) Counseling-Every active duty Soldier and Spouse (if Soldier elects less than the maximum Spouse SBP coverage allowed by law) must receive counseling by a qualified SBP Counselor on available SBP options and the potential effects of participating or not participating in each of these options after the retirement application is submitted and at least 60 days before the official retirement date. Click here to read the pre-retirement Counseling Guide.
- Mandatory SBP Election-Active duty Soldiers should complete their SBP election no later than 60 days before their retirement. If the Soldier is married, the Spouse is notified of the Soldier's election when the Soldier elects less than the maximum Spouse SBP coverage allowed by the law. The Spouse must provide written notarized concurrence with the election when the Soldier elects less than the maximum Spouse SBP coverage allowed by the law. Without the spouse's written notarized concurrence prior to date retired, the Soldier will receive the maximum level of coverage allowable under the law.
- Special provisions will be made for medically retiring Soldiers who are so severely wounded/injured that neither the Soldier nor a Family member are able to attend a pre-retirement/SBP briefing. Such special briefings should be conducted no later than the start of the Physical Evaluation Board (PEB) process.
Pre-retirement briefing policy
- It is mandatory that all Soldiers receive a pre-retirement briefing at least 12 months before their official retirement date (or the date of departure on transition leave). In cases where a Soldier requests to retire in less than 12 months, the Soldier will attend the next group pre-retirement brief or receive an individual pre-retirement brief from an RSO.
- Provisions must be made to assist medically retiring Soldiers who may be so severely wounded/injured that neither the Soldier nor the Family members are able to attend a preretirement/SBP briefing.
- Upon notification, conduct the mandatory pre-retirement briefing for severely wounded/injured Soldiers who may be medically retired no later than the start of the PEB process.
- Retiree Council Programs-Soldier for Life Retirement Services Office administers the Chief of Staff, Army Retired Soldier Council; each installation RSO administers an Installation Retiree Council. The main objectives of the councils are to provide input to Army leadership on significant issues affecting the retired community and to help the Army communicate with the retired community across the Army.
- Retiree Appreciation Days (RADs)-RADs are conducted by installation and Reserve Component (RC) RSOs to keep retired Soldiers and their Families informed of rights, benefits, and privileges and to foster goodwill between the retired and active duty communities. RADs are conducted at least annually by major Army installations in CONUS and by garrisons in overseas command. Click here for current schedule. These will usually be publicized in Army Echoes and in local installation newsletters sent to the retired community in their area of operation.
- Army Echoes and Installation Retiree Newsletters-The Army Retirement Services Program publishes the Army Echoes bulletin three times per year to keep Retired Soldiers and Spouses in touch with the Army and informed of their rights, benefits, and responsibilities. Army Echoes is sent electronically to all retirees and SBP annuitants with a myPay account at the Defense Finance and Accounting Service (DFAS). The Army will no longer mail the hardcopy edition of Echoes to Soldiers who retire after January 1, 2012.
- Installation Retiree Newsletters are published by each major Army installation specific to their geographic area at least once per year.
- Upon retirement, all Soldiers, regardless of component, are entitled to receive the Army Retiring Soldier Commendation Program Package. The package includes the following:
- Full-color letter signed by the Secretary of the Army, Chief of Staff of the Army, and Sergeant Major of the Army.
- Full-color box carrier.
- U.S. Flag, measuring 3 feet by 5 feet, cotton outdoor.
- U.S. Army Retired Lapel Button.
- Two DA Label 180, "Soldier For Life" window decals.
- Uniformed Services Former Spouses' Protection Act (USFSPA)-RSOs assist the servicing legal assistance office in their area in counseling active and Retired Soldiers, Spouses and former Spouses on this legislation with regard to former Spouse SBP and division of retired pay.
- For more information about the services provided by the Army Retirement Services Program, please see the Web sites in the "Additional Information" section below.
For more information, visit the Web site maintained by the Department of the Army Soldier for Life at:
Retirement Services Program Army Regulation 600-8-7:
Army Retirement Service Officers:
For National Archives Military Records Request information:
Document Review Date: 29 February 2016