Retirement Services Program

Army National Guard: Federal 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 and ARNG RSOs are available to active duty ARNG Soldiers, surviving Spouses, and their Families.  Post-retirement program services are available to all Retired Soldiers and their Families. 

Benefit Highlights:

Major program components include:


  • Mandatory Pre-retirement Orientation-ARNG Soldiers with 20 years or more of active service must attend a pre-retirement briefing with an RSO between the time their retirement application is submitted and at least 120 days before their official retirement date (or the date of departure on transition leave). All Reserve Component (RC) Soldiers in Active Guard Reserve status should receive a pre-retirement briefing between 18-19 years of active service.
  • Mandatory Reserve Component Survivor Benefit Plan (RCSBP)and Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP) Counseling-Every ARNG Soldier who will retire with 20 or more years of Active Service (AS) and when applicable, their Spouse must receive counseling by a qualified RCSBP/SBP Counselor on available SBP options and the potential effects of participating or not participating in each of these options.  This counseling should take place after the retirement application is submitted and at least 60 days before the official retirement date.   Any previously elections made under RCSBP are nullified when the Soldier is retired with a Regular (active service) retirement.
  • Mandatory SBP Election- ARNG Soldiers with 20 years or more of active service must complete their SBP election on a DD Form 2656 no later than the day before their regular retirement with 20 years or more AS. 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 will be conducted during the Integrated Disability Evaluation System (IDES) process.

Pre-retirement briefing policy

  • It is mandatory that all Soldiers retiring with an active service retirement will receive a pre-retirement briefing between the retirement application submission date and 120 days before the retirement date (or start date of transition leave). 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 during the Integrated Disability Evaluation System (IDES) process.


  • Retiree Council Programs-HQDA Retirement Services administers the Chief of Staff, Army Retiree 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 retiree 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 retiree 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 with a myPay account at the Defense Finance and Accounting Service (DFAS). Each major Army installation also publishes a retiree newsletter specific to their geographic area at least once per year. The Army will no longer mail the hardcopy edition of Echoes to Soldiers who retire after January 1, 2012.


  • 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.

Additional Information:

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