Maj. Lance Lewis, a pilot with Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 251, climbs into the cockpit of an F/A-18 Hornet aboard the aircraft carrier Enterprise in April 2011. Hornet pilots will be eligible for several early out incentives next year. (Lance Cpl. Courtney White / Marine Corps)
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Expanding officer early out incentives
The number of officer military occupational specialties eligible for Temporary Early Retirement Authority or Voluntary Separation Pay in fiscal 2014 will more than double. Majors and major selects in the following MOSs are eligible for VSP. Captains, majors and lieutenant colonels in these MOSs are also eligible for TERA:
02XX: Any intelligence MOS
0302: Infantry officer
0402: Logistics officer
0602: Communications officer
0802: Field artillery officer
1302: Infantry officer
1802: Tank officer
1803: Assault amphibious vehicle officer
3002: Ground supply officer
3404: Financial management officer
4302: Public affairs officer
4402: Judge advocate
5803: Military police officer
6002: Aircraft maintenance officer
6602: Aviation supply officer
72XX: Any air control, air support, anti-air warfare or air traffic control MOS
7509: Pilot VMA, AV-8B qualified
7523: Pilot VMFA, F/A-18 qualified
7525: Weapons systems officer, F/A-18D qualified
7543: Pilot VMAQ/VMFP, EA-6B qualified
7556: Pilot VMGR, KC-130 co-pilot
7557: Pilot VMGR, KC-130 aircraft commander
7562: Pilot HMH/M/L/A, CH-46 qualified
7563: Pilot HMH/M/L/A, UH-1 qualified
7564: Pilot HMH/M/L/A, CH-53 A/D qualified
7566: Pilot HMH/M/L/A, CH-53E qualified
7565: Pilot HMH/M/L/A, AH-1 qualified
7588: Electronic Warfare Officer, EA-6B qualified
Enlisted early outs
Although the most recent announcements about early out incentives apply exclusively to officers, enlisted Marines hoping for an early retirement or a cash payout to leave the service shouldn’t fret, according to manpower officials.
Details for enlisted Temporary Early Retirement Authority and Voluntary Separation Pay eligibility are expected sometime this summer, according to Maj. Shawn Haney, a Manpower and Reserve Affairs spokeswoman at Marine Corps Base Quantico, Va.
It is difficult to predict exactly which enlisted ranks and military occupational specialties will be eligible for TERA and VSP in the coming year since the incentive is regularly adjusted to meet ever-changing manpower levels.
Release of enlisted details via Marine administrative message is planned well before Oct. 1, the start of fiscal 2014, so enlisted Marines will have time to weigh their options and apply.
Officers in about twice as many military occupational specialties this year will be eligible for separation cash or early retirement benefits in fiscal 2014, according to newly released details for two early out programs.
The number of military occupational specialties eligible for either Voluntary Separation Pay or the Temporary Early Retirement Authority program will increase from 13 in fiscal 2013 to 29 in fiscal 2014, which begins Oct. 1, according to Marine administrative messages 155/13 and 156/13, signed March 25.
The biggest jump is in the TERA program. In fiscal 2013, officers in just nine MOSs were eligible for TERA. In ’14 that number increases to 29. Officers in just 12 MOSs were eligible for VSP. That number will also hit 29 specialties in ’14.
The two programs are the primary voluntary force shaping tools available to manpower officials as they trim the force to 182,100 Marines by 2017. Manpower officials began offering the carefully targeted incentives in 2013 not only to help manpower officials hit annual manning targets, but also to help them clear overpopulated MOSs at specific ranks. Those logjams have had a negative effect on career advancement for many Marines and made the wait to pin on rank frustratingly long, with some waiting more than a year or two after being selected for promotion.
Separation incentives for enlisted members will be announced later this year.
The expansion of the program is not the result of more overpopulated MOSs, according to manpower officials, but instead reflects manpower officials’ growing confidence that they can be used more broadly without gutting specialties.
“Now that HQMC has six months of data and can observe the current trends, the determination was made that additional MOSs could be made eligible while still drawing down in a healthy manner,” according to Maj. Shawn Haney, a Manpower and Reserve Affairs spokeswoman. “There [are] not necessarily more overpopulated MOSs in FY14, just more MOSs that were determined healthy enough to offer TERA/VSP.”
Manpower officials expect between 70 and 100 officers to take advantage of TERA, and another 15 to 30 to take the cash incentive to leave service, in fiscal 2014. So far this fiscal year, 78 have opted for early retirement and 31 have taken the payout.
VSP offers majors and major selects who have served between six and 20 years a lump sum buyout to leave uniform. The incentives, which are based on a Marine’s pay and years of service, often break six figures. To calculate VSP, a Marine should multiply their annual basic pay by 0.2, and multiply that by their years of service. A major with 12 years of service who earns $80,860 in base pay each year, for example, would receive $194,064, before taxes, according to MARADMIN 156/13.
In addition to being a major or major select, to be eligible for VSP a Marine must:
Not be subject to pending disciplinary action or to administrative separation or mandatory discharge.
Not be pending a disability discharge.
For full eligibility details, refer to MARADMIN 156/13.
TERA offers captains, majors and lieutenant colonels who have served between 15 and 20 years the opportunity to leave the Corps short of 20 years while retaining retirement benefits at a slightly reduced rate. A major with 16 years of service, for example, would receive about $30,250 per year after leaving the service, according to the MARADMIN 155/13. The same major would receive about $41,172 a year if he stayed for the full 20 years, according to a Defense Department retirement calculator.
The TERA retirement is calculated by multiplying years of service by 0.025, which provides a percentage rate — in this case 40 percent. That must then be reduced by 1 percentage point for each year under 20 years of service, giving a major who has served 16 years a retirement annuity that is 36 percent of his average annual pay during the three years when his pay was highest, typically the last three years of service.
In addition to being a captain, major or lieutenant colonel, to be eligible for TERA a Marine must:
Retire by Sept. 1, 2014.
Not have pending legal action, administrative separation or disability separation.
While manpower officials did not provide exact caps on the number of Marines who will be offered TERA or VSP before the incentives are withdrawn for the year, eligible Marines who plan to leave the service should apply as quickly as possible.