Retirement Services Program

Army National Guard: Drilling

Benefit Fact Sheet


The Headquarters, Department of the Army (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. 


Retirement planning services of local RSOs are available to active duty, ARNG, and USAR Soldiers and their Families.  Post-retirement program services are available to all Retired Soldiers, surviving Spouses, and their Families. 

Benefit Highlights

paratroopers hooked to static line

Major program components include:

Retirement Planning

  • Mandatory Reserve Component Survivor Benefit Plan (RCSBP) and Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP) Counseling - Reserve Component (RC) Soldiers who have received their Notification of Eligibility (NOE) for Retired Pay at Age 60 (the 15 or 20 year letter) will receive a mandatory RCSBP briefing and "gray area" benefits briefing upon receipt of their 15 or 20 year NOE. If the Soldier retires with a Regular (active service) retirement, the RCSBP election will be nullified and no payment will be required on RCSBP premiums.

  • Reserve Component Soldiers must complete their SBP election on a DD Form 2656-5 within 90 days of receipt of the NOE. If an RCSBP election is not made within 90 days of receipt of the NOE, the Soldier will receive automatic Option C full RCSBP coverage for the dependents (Spouse and/or Children) on the date of the NOE. If the Soldier is married, the Spouse must sign the form and have the signature verified by a notary to provide concurrence with the election when Soldier elects anything other than full Spouse coverage Option C. Without the Spouse's written notarized concurrence prior to date retired, the Soldier will receive the maximum level of coverage allowable under the law for Spouse SBP coverage. If the Soldier chooses option A (no RCSBP coverage choice), then Soldier can make an SBP election when they apply for non-regular retired pay at the age of Change of Mission newslettereligibility (usually age 60, unless eligible for reduced age retirement under T10 USC 12731), however no survivor benefit coverage will be provided if the Soldier dies prior to age 60. If the Soldier chooses Option B (deferred annuity until age 60) or Option C (immediate annuity), those choices automatically become the SBP election when Soldier applies for non-regular retired pay, at the age of eligibility. If Soldier retires with an Active Duty or regular retirement, any RCSBP election will be nullified and no RCSBP premiums will be due. Soldier can make a new SBP election at the time of their regular retirement on a DD Form 2656.

  • 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

  • Reserve Component (RC) Soldiers who have received their NOE will receive a mandatory RCSBP and "gray area" benefits briefing within 6 months of transitioning off active drilling status. All Reserve Component (RC) Soldiers should receive a retirement planning briefing between 18 and 19 years of qualifying service and if still in service will receive a retirement planning briefing between ages 58 and 59.

  • For RC Soldiers who will begin receiving retirement pay before age 60 under the provisions of Title 10 United States Code section 12731 (Reduced Age Eligibility); the pre-retirement briefings will be conducted prior to the adjusted retirement date. Click here to view the Reserve Component Retirement System

  • 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 during the Integrated Disability Evaluation System (IDES) process.


  • Retiree Council Programs - The HQDA Retirement Services office 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. The Army’s Retired Soldier Council Program consists of five elements:

    • The CSA Retired Soldier Council established by the CSA and chartered by HQDA.

    • Installation Retiree Councils established and chartered by individual installation or garrison commanders.

    • ASCC Retiree Councils established and chartered by ASCC commanders.

    • State Retiree Councils established and chartered by TAG of the States and Territories.

    • RD or MSC Retiree Councils established and chartered by RD or MSC commanders.

  • 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 dates are published in Army Echoes and in local installation newsletters sent to the retiree community in their area of operation.Army Echoes Newsletter

  • 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 their Spouses in touch with the Army and informed 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. Each major Army installation also publishes a retiree newsletter specific to their geographic area at least once per year. If you are a Gray Area Retired Soldier (in the Retired Reserve not yet collecting retired pay), make sure your information is correct in the Human Resources Command (HRC) database. You can update your information by logging into the HRC record portal at using your DS logon. Once signed in, select Reserve/Retiree/Veteran record and select edit in the contact information field to update, or you can contact the Reserve Retirements Branch at the US Army Human Resources Command to ensure they have your current mailing address by calling them at 1-888-276-9472. As a Gray Area Retired Soldier, if you would like electronic distribution of Army Echoes, you will need to add your email address to your contact information.


  • Effective 15 May 2009, all Soldiers, regardless of component, are entitled to receive the Army Retiring Soldier Commendation Program Package upon retirement. The package includes the following:

    • A personalized full-color letter signed by the Secretary of the Army, Chief of Staff of the Army, and Sergeant Major of the ArmySoldier For Life Insignia

    • 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.

  • 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:

Retirement Services Program Army Regulation 600-8-7:

Army Retirement Service Officers:

For National Archives Military Records Request information:

Document Review Date: 13 October 2020