FORT BELVOIR, Va. – The 99th Regional Support Command hosted the largest Pre-Retirement Training Brief to date at the Wallace Theater here Jan. 26 as part of the Army Reserve’s Retirement Services pilot program.
Nearly 500 soldiers from the Army Reserve and National Guard, Coast Guardsmen and family members attended the one-day joint event to learn about the many benefits and options available to them upon retirement from the military.
“Our goal is to educate soldiers early,” explained Lt. Col. Twanda Young, Army Reserve Retirement Services policy integrator, “so that when they get that (retirement) packet from Human Resources Command, they’re well-informed to make good decisions and their family members understand the impact of those decisions.”
The Retirement Services pilot program was begun in February 2011 to assist Army Reserve soldiers with retirement issues specific to their service component.
“Since the inception of the program, we’ve touched about 16,000 soldiers,” Young said.
The program focuses primarily on Army Reserve soldiers, but information for other branches and components of service are included as well in the program’s Pre-Retirement Training Briefs, which are hosted by the Army Reserve’s four Regional Support Commands in cities across the country.
“We have four RSOs - retirement service officers - who are located at each Regional Support Command headquarters, and their job is to go out and educate soldiers, family members, survivors and retirees about their entitlements and benefits concerning retirement,” Young explained.
“There’s only one reason why RSCs exist, and that’s soldier support,” said Maj. Gen. William D. Razz Waff, commanding general of the 99th RSC, which covers a 13-state region from Maine to Virginia. “The folks here who are putting this on have a real passion for doing this and getting it right for you.”
Attendees at the brief spent the day gathering information from subject-matter experts on topics such as survivor benefits plans, Veterans Administration health care services, financial planning, TRICARE and Delta Dental, and retirement points and pay.
“This is the primary way to get the word out - in person, talking about retirement, clearing out the myths and legends so you understand what you have to do, what decisions you have to make, the right decisions for you and your family,” said Maj. Gen. Glenn J. Lesniak, deputy commanding general for support, U.S. Army Reserve Command. “This is more than just retirement; it’s a family transition to another phase of their life, so we want to make sure all the bases are covered as far as your pay and benefits.”
Additional Pre-Retirement Training Briefs are scheduled across the country, to include events hosted by the 99th RSC in Coraopolis, Pa., on March 23, at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J., on April 27, in Richmond, Va., on May 18, at Fort Hamilton or Fort Totten, N.Y., on June 22, in Harrisburg, Pa., on July 27, in Buffalo, N.Y., on Aug. 24, and again at Joint Base MDL on Sept. 21.
“I would challenge and encourage commanders to make sure that they don’t have a soldier who’s under their leadership who needs this information and is not receiving it,” Young said. “We owe this information to them.”