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Sunday, April 22, 2007

What’s Happening In Congress?

Reserve Retirement in the Senate

On Wednesday, April 18, 2007, the Senate Armed Services Subcommittees on Personnel, Readiness and Management held a joint hearing on the readiness impact of quality of life and family support programs to assist families of active duty, National Guard, and reserve military personnel.

During the course of this hearing, the committee discussed retirement benefits for members of the National Guard and Reserve and Senator Saxby Chambliss (R-GA) provided a statement on his bill, S.648, The National Guard and Reserve Modernization Act. During his statement, Senator Chambliss noted that “Since September 11, 2001, an annual average of about 60 million duty days have been performed by Reserve Component members – the equivalent of adding over 164,000 personnel to the active strength each year…this represents almost a five-fold increase since the 1990s…”

Referring to the cash bonuses now in place to enhance retention, Senator Chambliss said that, despite the effectiveness of these bonuses, he would “much rather motivate behavior over the long-term by providing an early retirement benefit based on continuous service and deployments.”

Given that “Guard and Reserve members are the only federal retirees who must wait until age 60 to collect retirement pay,” Senator Chambliss’ bill will reduce the age for receipt of retirement pay by three months for every 90 days a Guard member spends on active duty in support of a contingency operation or while responding to a national emergency since September 11, 2001.

Senator Chambliss said that the bill is the right thing to do because Guard members who are called away to duty are “sacrificing their civilian careers, including their retirement benefits.” Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) agreed, calling the bill “a great idea” and further stating that “now is the time to look at the retirement system of the Guard and Reserve.”

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