News: Soldiers attend Joint Pre-Retirement Seminar
Story by Spc. True Thao
FORT SNELLING, Minn. - A joint Army Reserve/National Guard pre-retirement seminar was held on Fort Snelling, Minn., April 21, for 210 soldiers and their families. The event was hosted by U.S. Army Reserve Command, and it allowed soldiers who are near retirement age to learn more about available benefits and opportunities for Army retirees.
The goal is to give accurate information to soldiers who are planning their retirement, or have done their 20 years in the Army National Guard or Reserve, said Col. John Morris, state chaplain for the Minnesota National Guard. “We are here to ensure that they have access to all the benefits they have earned and the information that’s a needed to make a wise decision on how to handle that retirement.”
We want to provide them with timely and accurate information that introduces them to contacts, who can assist them in the future with retirement questions, said Lt. Col. Kathleen Couillard, Army Reserve Retirement Services officer. “Our objective is to educate soldiers and families.”
Not only does it educate soldiers on their benefits, but it also allows them to clear the air of any misleading information they might have received. Soldiers are often misinformed about the benefits of retirement and a seminar like this helps soldiers receive the correct information.
“We try to provide an overview at the seminar to rectify some of the misconceptions,” said Couillard “and then offer an opportunity for soldiers and families to set up follow-on meetings if needed.”
For any attendees who had not prepared for retirement, this seminar gave them a chance to be proactive about their situation and armed them with information that would better prepare them for retirement. Some of the topics included Reserve Component Survivor Benefit Plan, Employer Partnership Office, TriCare Medical, and the Transition Assistant Program.
“I’m here to gather as much information as I can to prepare for my retirement,” said Army Reserve soldier Lt. Col. Laura Powell, Army Sustainment Command, Rock Island, Ill. “I didn’t know how to apply for all of these benefits on my own so that’s why I’m here.”
Powell, who is also a teacher in her civilian career, says she is definitely interested in finding out more information about other employment opportunities with the government after retirement.
Having pre-retirement seminars are very beneficial to both soldiers who are preparing for retirement and those who are thinking about it, said Lt. Col. Twanda Young, Army Reserve Retirement Policy Integrator.
We want to let them know it is all their entitlements and benefits as they are getting ready either to go into retirement or as it is approaching, said Young. They deserve to get this information, and we need to provide venues and forums from this point forward to ensure that soldiers and their families are informed about their entitlements and benefits prior to retirement. We want to stop soldiers from getting to the gate of retirement ill-informed, which results in poor decision making that can potentially, negatively impact their lives.
The seminars are held bimonthly within the U.S. and will soon expand to Puerto Rico and overseas. For more information on upcoming seminars, contact Lt. Col. Kathleen Couillard at firstname.lastname@example.org.