Issue: The seismic shift from a strategic to an operational reserve has profound implications for reservists' civilian compensation and retirement. They are now expected to spend 20-25% of their prime working years on full-time active duty. To offset inevitable declines in their civilian compensation package and to encourage the best and brightest to pursue a reserve career, the reserve retirement system must be reformed to reflect today's service conditions.
Background: When established in 1948, National Guard and Reserve (G-R) servicemembers were presumed to have full-time civilian careers and liable for activation only in the event of a world war type emergency. The reserve retirement system was built to supplement a normal civilian career promotion and retirement program. For the next five decades, G-R forces were called up infrequently and only for short tours of duty.
However, since 9/11, over 900,000 Guard and Reserve members have served on operational active duty; more than 300,000 have served multiple active duty tours.
Reserve mission increases and a smaller force structure mean G-R members are devoting a far greater share of their working lives to military service than was envisioned by reserve retirement system architects in 1948. National policy today requires G-R members to expect to be mobilized for 12 months every five or six years. This policy has dramatically changed the rules for G-R members, their employers, and families.
G-R members stand ready to support the nation, but should not have to suffer future civilian retirement income loss because of frequent call-ups that remove them from their civilian careers, often costing them promotions and sometimes their very jobs. The government has a clear obligation, in return for demanding this extra service and sacrifice, to help offset their civilian retirement losses by updating the reserve retirement system to reflect the realities of 21st century G-R service.
The FY 2008 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) (P.L. 110-181) took an important first step by reducing the age at which a member of the Ready Reserve can draw retired pay (normally 60) by 3 months for every aggregate 90 days of active duty performed after January 27, 2008. The FY 2015 NDAA (P.L. 113-291) authorizes the crediting of each 90 days’ active service over two successive fiscal years. The authority, however, does not include eligibility for TRICARE, which is deferred to age 60.