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More prior-enlisted officers eligible for 15-year retirements

Jul. 7, 2014 - 06:00AM   |  
Army Secretary John McHugh has granted early retirements to prior-enlisted officers with eight years or more commissioned service. Previously this voluntary separation was only available to prior-enlisted officers with at least 10 years of commissioned service.
Army Secretary John McHugh has granted early retirements to prior-enlisted officers with eight years or more commissioned service. Previously this voluntary separation was only available to prior-enlisted officers with at least 10 years of commissioned service. (Army)
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In an expanded effort to slim down the force, the Army is offering more 15-year retirements to officers with prior-enlisted service.

Army Secretary John McHugh, in a June 17 directive, authorized early retirements to prior-enlisted officers with eight years or more active-duty commissioned service. Previously, this voluntary separation was only available to prior-enlisted officers with at least 10 years of commissioned service. Warrant officers are not eligible.

These officers are only retirement eligible if they have 15 years of total active-duty service by their retirement date.

As of May 30, there were 256 active-duty officers with eight years of commissioned service who qualify for the early retirements, and 176 with nine years who could potentially qualify for early retirement.

The 15-year retirement option is officially called the Temporary Early Retirement Authority. Congress authorized its use in 2011 as a force management program to be used through Sept. 30, 2018.

McHugh OK’d it for the Army in 2012, as the service prepared to launch a series of retention screening boards for officers and senior noncommissioned officers of the Regular Army and Reserve components serving in the Active Guard Reserve Program.

The use of TERA is restricted to soldiers identified for separation by involuntary release boards and those who have been passed over for promotion.

The special program allows soldiers with at least 15 but fewer than 20 years of active-duty service to receive the same benefits as those who retire with 20 or more years of service, except that their retirement pay is reduced accordingly.

Before McHugh’s June 17 directive, it was possible for prior-enlisted officers to retire with only eight years commissioned service, but it required a waiver. The new rules are effective through Congress’ 2018 deadline.

Soldiers who have 18 to 20 years of service, and who are in the retirement lock-in category of federal law, may not be discharged unless recommended by a court-martial convening authority, and approved by the assistant secretary of the Army for manpower and reserve affairs.

The Army has Congressional authority to ease the time in grade requirements for retirement in grades of colonel and lieutenant coloneland considers waivers on a case-by-case basis for extreme hardship or exceptional or unusual circumstances.

The Army recently increased the retirement lock-in for promotion to the senior NCO ranks from two to three years.

Staff writer Jim Tice contributed to this report.

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