Tuesday, March 29, 2011
USCG…Always Ready…Always There
United States Coast Guard (USCG) retirees are supported by the Commandant of the Coast Guard National Retiree Council (CCGNRC), a number of Regional Retiree Councils, and retiree offices on various active USCG installations, The source document for this support is USCG Commandant Instruction 1800.5F.
The National Council of Coast Guard Retirees was chartered in July 1982 and renamed the Commandant of the Coast Guard National Retiree Council in 2002. Its primary purpose is to maintain a positive line of communications between the Coast Guard and the Coast Guard retiree community.
Regional Retiree Councils (such as the Capitol Area Retiree Council in Washington, DC) are established to provide an active link between retired service members and active duty personnel. Regional Councils function on a more localized level to keep retirees abreast of available benefits, upcoming special events, and the latest happenings in the Coast Guard. Retirees can connect with their Regional Retiree Council and receive valuable, timely information by reading the Commandant’s National Retiree Council section of The Coast Guard/NOAA Retirees’ Newsletter. The newsletter is published by the USCG Pay and Personnel Center (PPC), Topeka. The archive link is:
I believe the USCG retiree community is now 11 regional councils strong, but they always want to add more. They are looking for retirees who are interested in starting up new regional councils in areas with a high Coast Guard retiree population such as Tampa, the Gulf Area, St. Louis, and New England. Currently, they are said to be looking at the possibility of reestablishing a Regional Retiree Council in Mobile, Alabama.
To augment the services provided by USCG Retiree Councils, a National Retiree Council (NRC) Help Desk is currently operated by members of the Capitol Area Retiree Council and other volunteers. Although space and resources have been provided in the Washington, DC Headquarters Building, there are not enough volunteer “watch standers” to have someone physically present at all times in the office. Help requests are received by way of either a voice mail or email account. A volunteer checks the voice mail and email periodically and answers each request in a timely manner.
Coast Guard retirees may submit help requests by:
Dialing the Help Desk local number: (202) 475-5381
Dialing the Help Desk toll free number: 1- 866-664-6245
Or sending an email to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Coast Guard retirees have another outstanding resource available in the form of Fred’s Place, a web site operated by CWO4 Fred Siegel, USCG (Retired). Coast Guard Human Resources provides an Internet link to Fred’s Place just as they show links to the Fleet Reserve Association and the Department of Veterans Affairs. The Co-Chairs of the Commandant’s National Retiree Council refer to Fred as the chair their “virtual” Retiree Council and add that you can access additional information about the National Retiree Council from his site, http://www.fredsplace.org/
Fred welcomes everyone to his site with:
Ahoy! Welcome Aboard
Then, he declares:
Fred's Place is THE PLACE to meet old shipmates. We serve all "Coasties" (Active, Retired, Reserve, Auxiliary, Veterans, or SPARS), our Civilian co-workers, and the Friends and Family of Coasties everywhere.
All Regional Retiree Councils need a few more volunteers to help fill out the Retiree Council teams. Retirees are invited to give a few hours of their time and help support their local council as well as other USCG retiree functions. In view of current budget cuts and the on-going requirement to support our combat forces (supporting our young warriors must always remain our top priority), the efforts of older volunteers are becoming more and more important.
Don’t forget to read the USCG retiree newsletters and visit Fred’s Place.
Friday, February 11, 2011
Today, we will explore the local Retirement Services Office found on each Army installation. Army Retirement Services is part of the Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff, G-1, Headquarters, Department of the Army (HQDA). Retirement Services provides information on benefits and entitlements to Army retirees (and their families) as well as active duty soldiers (and their families) who are preparing for retirement. Army Regulation (AR) 600-8-7 prescribes the policies governing the Army Retirement Services Program, the Survivor Benefit Plan, the Army retiree’s newsletter (Army Echoes), and the Chief of Staff’s Retiree Council.
Recently revised AR 600-8-7 describes significant changes for retiring soldiers, retired soldiers, and the Army Retirement Services. This revised regulation defines the expanded Retirement Services mission of serving all retiring and retired soldiers from the Active, Reserve and Guard components. For the first time, AR 600-8-7 includes chapters explaining Army National Guard and Army Reserve Retirement Services policy. It also now states that the opportunity to participate in a retirement ceremony should be provided to all soldiers, regardless of their component.
The Fort Hood Retirement Services Office (RSO) seems to be a good example of the way an installation-level retiree facility is positioned as part of the Army Career and Alumni Program (ACAP). The Fort Hood RSO serves retirees and families of retirees from all branches of military service. Some of their post-retirement services include:
- Counseling and assisting survivors of both retirees and service members who die on active duty.
- Publishing and distributing an annual retiree newsletter.
- Conducting an annual Retiree Appreciation Day.
- Providing information and annuity-filing assistance to certain military surviving spouses.
- Providing information and assistance regarding the Uniformed Services Former Spouse’s Protection Act.
- Assisting and advising retirees concerning Combat-Related Special Compensation (CRSC).
- Providing information on Concurrent Retirement and Disability Payments (CRDP).
- Assisting retirees and family members who wish to obtain new military ID Cards; reissues of military awards; or copies of lost documents such as DD Form 214, retirement orders, and medical records.
- Providing retirees and their families with information and referrals related to a myriad of other benefits and entitlements including Veterans Affairs (VA); TRICARE medical and dental; Social Security and Medicare benefits; and many others.
At the Fort Hood Retirement Services Office, pre-retirement activities Include:
- Conducting detailed quarterly Pre-Retirement Orientations.
- Conducting Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP) group briefings for all retiring Soldiers and their spouses.
- Counseling soldiers and family members concerning retirement rights, benefits, and privileges.
- Conducting one-on-one Pre-Retirement briefings and SBP briefings as needed.
- Assisting retiring Soldiers and family members with completion of the DD Form 2656 (Data for Payment of Retired Personnel).
- Providing CSB/REDUX retirement pay option counseling.
If retirees have questions regarding benefits, SBP, Retiree Appreciation Days or anything else retirement-related, they should contact the RSO serving their area or go to the Army Retirement Services website at:
Each issue of Army Echoes has a current RSO Directory arranged by state and territory. For states or territories without an Army installation, the directory identifies the RSO serving that area.
In closing, please allow me to stress that each Retirement Services Office needs a few more volunteers to help staff the office and fill out the RSO team. Each Retirement Services Officer invites retirees and their adult family members living near the post to give a few hours of their time and help support their local RSO as well as other base functions. In view of current budget cuts and the on-going requirement to support our combat forces (supporting our young warriors must always remain our top priority), the efforts of older volunteers are becoming more and more important.
Tuesday, January 18, 2011
As mentioned in a previous blog post, each branch of military service operates a form of retiree service tailored to the specific needs of their retirees. I plan to discuss each one briefly and we may as well take the services in alphabetical order. The Air Force Retiree Activities Program is authorized by AF Instruction 36-3106. Headquarters U.S. Air Force established the program to serve military retirees (along with their spouses, widows and widowers) while unifying the retired and active duty communities.
At base level, the Retiree Activities Office (RAO) or Satellite Retiree Activities Office (SRAO) is the focal point of the Air Force Retiree Activities Program, and its success depends on the support of the Installation Commander. The Commander appoints an RAO or SRAO Director and designates the installation Vice Commander as the installation RAO/SRAO Coordinator. The Coordinator maintains regular contact with the RAO Director and provides liaison between the active duty staff and the Director.
Retiree Activities Offices are manned by volunteers from all services plus any surviving spouses who wish to volunteer. Each office operates through command channels and helps retirees find answers to questions concerning survivor benefits, Veterans Administration services, Tricare and other health-related issues, base services, referrals for legal assistance, military pay, personnel actions, space-available travel, and many other subjects. They also work with various base agencies to set up Retiree Appreciation Day events and, on some bases, assist the staff of the Transition Assistance Program (TAP) office. The TAP office assists and advises active-duty Airmen nearing retirement.
The Air Force Retiree Services Web site maintains an RAO locator application that lists contact information for all Air Force RAOs. They offer an assortment of good material on their “RAO” page. You can follow this link to find your nearest Air Force RAO or identify offices in any other areas of interest to you:
Most of the larger Air Force installations maintain a very good Web site and provide at least one page for use by their local RAO. I like the RAO presentation on the Joint Base Andrews site. Apparently, there is an exceptional RAO located on Andrews. Please take a moment (after reading this post of course) and follow our next link to the Joint Base Andrews RAO page:
When funding is available, an RAO usually publishes a newsletter that is both mailed to area retirees and linked to on the RAO Web page. I didn't find a link for an Andrews RAO newsletter; however, there is a newsletter link leading to nearby Bowling AFB. The Andrews RAO director apparently chooses to use another method of communication. He writes a weekly column for the base newspaper, the Capitol Flyer. I checked, and the director’s column is consistently filled with timely material of interest to retirees. Links to a number of columns are listed in the “News” section of the Andrews Web site, and a good collection of archived articles by the director is available on the Capitol Flyer site.
As a side-note, the entire Joint Base Andrews Web site is well worth some browsing time. For example, their Space-A Travel pages should be of interest to many retirees. Andrews hosts a major MAC Passenger Terminal, and I've heard some good comments about their staff and facilities. I also enjoyed the collection of “Aircraft Fact Sheets” in the “Library” section.
As a closing thought, I have noticed that regardless of the location or size of an Air Force Base, each Retiree Activities Office needs a few more volunteers to help staff the office and fill out the RAO team. Some retiree functions staff one central office and have one or more volunteers working each duty day. On larger bases, the RAO may conduct its business from a main office plus one or more smaller locations such as medical clinic, pharmacy, or community center satellite offices. Without fail, the director of each RAO invites any retiree or adult family member who lives near the base to give a few hours of their time and help support their local RAO. If possible, please consider volunteering to help your local RAO and other base functions.
Tuesday, January 4, 2011
Each branch of military service (Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard) publishes a retiree newsletter. Anyone with access to a computer and the internet may read the electronic edition of any of these newsletters. Both the most recent editions and a reasonable number of archived editions are usually available. Each of these newsletters is worth a read.
Air Force "Afterburner"
When funding permits, the Afterburner (News for USAF Retired Personnel) is printed three times a year by the Air Force Personnel Center, Public Affairs. An online version of the Afterburner, the e-Afterburner, is also produced three times a year. Whereas the printed version is sent only to retired Air Force members and surviving spouses eligible to receive pay and compensation, anyone with computer and Internet access may read or subscribe to the e-Afterburner online. (Information taken from Air Force Personnel Center site)
The purpose of Army Echoes (one of my personal favorites) is to keep Army retired soldiers and family members abreast of their rights and privileges, inform them of developments in the modern Army, and to inspire goodwill and a desire to support the Army in the civilian community. It is published three times a year and mailed to more than 900,000 retired soldiers and SBP annuitants. The correspondence address that the retiree has on file at the Defense Finance and Accounting Service-Cleveland Center (DFAS-CL) is used to mail Army Echoes. (Information taken from Army G-1 site)
Coast Guard/NOAA "Retiree's Newsletter"
The Coast Guard/ NOAA Retirees’ Newsletter is a publication containing news of general interest, suggestions, and information to keep Coast Guard and NOAA retirees and their family members informed of recent developments. It is published four times a year. The publication shall not be considered authority and it is non-record material. (Information taken from USCG Pay and Personnel Center site)
Navy "Shift Colors"
Shift Colors (The Newsletter for Navy Retirees) provides retirees and their family members with up-to-date information pertaining to their pay and benefits. It includes continual updates from TRICARE; Defense Finance and Accounting Service; Morale, Welfare and Recreation; and Navy Personnel Command’s Retired Activities Office.
The Navy Personnel Command (NPC) Communications Office is responsible for publishing Shift Colors three times per year while ensuring the information being passed on to readers is accurate and up-to-date with the latest changes in retiree benefits. At the same time, it provides a fact-filled reference source to help family members better understand their benefits and responsibilities. The Shift Colors Web Page provides the latest issue of Shift Colors, back issues dating from 2002, reunion listings, information updates, ready reference contact information, and retiree seminar postings. (Information taken from Navy.mil posts)
Marine Corps "Semper Fidelis"
The Semper Fidelis, Memorandum for Retired Marines is published with appropriated funds on a quarterly basis by Headquarters Marine Corps (MMSR-6). It is designed solely to inform retired Marines and their family members about items of interest concerning their rights, benefits and privileges. Semper Fidelis accepts a limited amount of unsolicited material for publication in regular columns such as Second Career and Reunions, but reserves the right to reject any unsolicited material deemed inappropriate or illegible for publication. (Information taken from USMC, MMSR-6 site).
Please Note: Some combinations of browsers and security settings might cause difficulties when linking directly to the Semper Fidelis Web page. As an alternative to using the direct link shown above, you may:
First, access the Marine Corps Manpower and Reserve Affairs Home page at:
And then, click the “Semper Fidelis Online” link under the “News and Features” heading (located near the center of the page).
Friday, December 31, 2010
All branches of military service use the Internet to present information of interest to their retirees. In our first blog entry, I am posting links to each of these excellent online assets. Many of the resources on each site are specifically keyed to one service; however, some information is of general interest to most retirees. It is often wise to browse through more than just one site.
To reach any of the sites discussed here, readers may simply click on the active link shown below the title of each site. For those who are reluctant to click on links posted by unfamiliar sources (sources such as this blog), you can enter a phrase such as “Army Retirement Services” or “Air Force Retiree Services” in any good search engine.
Air Force Retiree Services
The Air Force Retiree Services Section manages the Air Force Retiree Activities Program, supports the Air Force Retiree Council, and advises the Air Force retirement community. Their site covers material such as: survivor benefits, a listing of base-level Retiree Activities Offices, several editions of the Afterburner (the Air Force retiree newsletter), current Air Force Retiree Council news, and links to many additional publications and resources of interest to retirees.
Army G1 Retirement Services
Army Retirement Services provides information on benefits and entitlements to retired soldiers and families (as well as active duty soldiers and families preparing for retirement) through Army installation Retirement Services Officers. Subjects covered on the Army Retirement Services site include: Retirement Services Officers (RSO), Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP), Army Benefits Tool (ABT), Army Chief of Staff's Retiree Council, Army Echoes Retiree Newsletter, Army values, mentorship, and retiree recall
Navy Personnel Command, Retired Activities Branch
The mission of Retired Activities Branch is to keep the retired community apprised of their benefits and provide customer services to the Navy retirees and their families. The staff at the Retired Activities Branch assists all Navy Retirees by manning a toll-free phone line (1-866-827-5672) from 0800 - 1600 (Central Time) on Monday through Friday and by responding to inquiries received through the mail, BUPERS bulletin board, and their website.
Marine Corps Community Services (MCCS), Retiree Life
Marine Corps Community Services is focused on providing the Retiree community with the valued goods and service that they have earned with their many years of dedicated service. MCCS has established Retiree Affairs Programs that offer information about issues of interest to retirees at each of the USMC bases and stations.
The Retiree Life Home Page links to information concerning topics such as: retiree pay and tax information, VA benefits, health benefits, veteran retirement homes, Retiree Activity Offices, ID cards, survivor benefits, tickets & travel, and the Buddy Locator program.
Coast Guard Pay and Personnel Center (PPC), Retiree & Annuitant Services Branch
This site provides information and links of interest to US Coast Guard retirees and annuitants. It includes a link to the Commandant’s National Retiree Council and various Regional Retiree Councils.