Retirement Services Program

Regular Army: Active Duty

Benefit Fact Sheet

Summary

The HQDA 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 Readiness Divisions and Mission 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.

Eligibility

Retirement planning 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 Reserve Component Soldiers not yet in receipt of retired pay.

Benefit Highlights

Major program components include: Retirement Planning

  • 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 SBP counseling and/or information 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 should be at least 60 days before the official retirement date. Click here to read the retirement planning 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. The Spouse’s concurrence must be dated on or after the date that the Soldier signed the election on the DD Form 2656 and prior to the Soldier’s retirement date. Without the Spouse's written notarized concurrence prior to date retired, the Soldier will receive the maximum level of Spouse 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 retirement planning/SBP briefing. Such special briefings should be conducted no later than the start of the Physical Evaluation Board (PEB) process.

  • Change of Mission Newsletter-The Army’s retirement planning newsletter, Change of Mission, is a quarterly, electronic newsletter sent to Soldiers in all three components with 17+ years of service. Change of Mission educates Soldiers about the retirement process, the decisions they and their families will make leading up to and immediately after their retirements, how their benefits will change when they retire, and why the Army wants them to be active Soldiers for Life in retirement.

Retirement Planning Briefing Policy 

  • It is mandatory that all Soldiers receive a retirement planning 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 retirement planning briefing or receive an individual retirement planning briefing from an RSO.

  • Provisions will 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 retirement planning/SBP briefing.

  • Upon notification, conduct the mandatory retirement planning briefing for severely wounded/injured Soldiers who may be medically retired no later than the start of the PEB process.

Post-retirement

  • Retiree Council Programs -The HQDA 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 commands. 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 office publishes the Army Echoes newsletter three times per year to keep Retired Soldiers and Spouses in touch with the Army and inform them of their rights, benefits, and responsibilities. Army Echoes is sent electronically to all Retired Soldiers and SBP annuitants with an email address associated with their myPay accounts with the Defense Finance and Accounting Service (DFAS). Only those without an email address in myPay will receive the hardcopy edition of Army Echoes.

  • Installation Retiree Newsletters are published by each major Army installation specific to their geographic area at least once per year.

Other

  • Upon retirement, all Soldiers, regardless of component, are entitled to receive the Army Retiring Soldier Commendation Program Package as of 15 May 2009. 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.

      • One DA Label 180 (exterior) and one DA label 180-1 (interior), "Soldier For Life" window stickers.

    • 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 websites in the "Additional Information" section below.

Additional Information

For more information, visit the website maintained by the Department of the Army Soldier for Life at:

https://soldierforlife.army.mil/retirement/home

Retirement Services Program Army Regulation 600-8-7:
https://armypubs.army.mil/epubs/DR_pubs/DR_a/pdf/web/AR600-8-7_Web_Final.pdf

Army Retirement Service Officers:
https://soldierforlife.army.mil/retirement/rso

For National Archives Military Records Request information:
https://www.archives.gov/veterans/military-service-records

Document Review Date: 17 October 2018