Participants in a recent online survey sponsored by the Fleet Reserve Association (FRA) strongly oppose proposals to “civilianize” the current military retirement system. More than 1,700 current and former service members offered their perspectives on recent recommendations posed by the Defense Business Board (DBB) to do away with the current military retirement program and implement a system similar to a 401(k) retirement benefit.
Current retirement benefits are available to military members who serve for 20 years or more, and nearly 95 percent of survey respondents said that’s the benefit that would have the most appeal if they were joining the service today. More than 80 percent of active duty and Reserve component respondents said they’d shorten their term of service if the retirement benefit were changed to reflect the recommendations made in the DBB’s “Modernizing the Military Retirement System” report.
Respondents from the active duty, Reserve, retiree and veteran communities overwhelmingly predict that, if implemented, the DBB proposals would be bad for military recruiting and retention. More than 83 percent of participants believed fewer people would join the military and serve shorter terms if a 401(k)-type benefit were instituted. More than 89 percent believed delaying retirement benefits to until age 60 or 65 would have a similar effect on recruiting and retention.
“Military service is unique, with inherently higher risks and required sacrifice than those borne by private-sector employees,” said Joe Barnes, FRA’s national executive director. “Military retirement benefits should reflect the enormous commitment shipmates and others make when they serve a career in the military and FRA strongly opposes the civilianization of military benefits. We believe the DBB plan would compromise the value of military retirement and negatively impact military recruiting, retention, morale and ultimately, readiness.”
FRA is urging lawmakers to examine the impact these proposed cuts would have on current and future service members. In a letter to the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction (the so-called “Super Committee”), FRA also asks committee members to honor commitments made to veterans and career personnel who served in the past.
“The responses to our survey show a real sense of frustration from the military community about these proposals,” Barnes said. “Even though these are just recommendations at this point, the White House is proposing a commission to consider changes to the military retirement program. The DBB’s ideas represent a real threat to the value of military retirement benefits.”
FRA is sharing survey results with members of the House Armed Services Personnel Subcommittee and its Senate counterpart, as well as with leaders within the Departments of Defense and Homeland Security – ensuring these key decision-makers understand the enlisted perspective. The Association also invites current and former service members and their families to share their concerns with their elected officials via FRA’s Action Center at www.fra.org/retire
Please visit www.fra.org/survey to participate in FRA’s current survey legislative priorities.
Back to main article