About 160 Army officers facing involuntary retirements got some good news before Christmas: They won’t be demoted in addition to being forced out of the military.
The change in policy spares career soldiers who had risked losing hundreds of dollars a month in their pensions because of a retirement standard that would have wiped out the perquisites they earned by getting promoted to officers after joining the Army as enlisted troops.
Secretary of the Army John McHugh on Dec. 18 announced that he would allow the soldiers to retire as officers. He faced pressure to make an exception to the Army’s retirement standard from a group of U.S. senators who wrote to him in November on behalf of officers in their home states.
McHugh this week wrote to those senators, including Washington Democratic Sen. Patty Murray, to announce that the officers would receive their full retirements.
“I have waived the minimum requirement for these officers, allowing them to retire as officers without regard to the number of years they have in active commissioned service,” he wrote.
Normally, soldiers who go through the painstaking process to become officers must serve eight years in uniform as officers to retire at the higher rank. Otherwise, they receive pensions based on their last enlisted rank.
The officers had planned to serve the required time to earn the higher pensions, but were caught in forced retirements by the Army’s rapid downsizing from its Iraq War peak.
Some of the officers who were chosen for early retirements last year had sought promotions when the Army was in need of junior-level officers to lead platoons and companies in Iraq and Afghanistan. “They answered the Army’s call to duty not just once, but twice,” Murray wrote in November.
McHugh waived the eight-year requirement for 120 officers who had been selected for early retirements. Another 44 will be allowed to stay in the Army long enough to earn officers’ pensions.