99th RSC briefs 7th MSC Soldiers on reserve retirement

Story and photo by Sgt. 1st Class Matthew Chlosta 7th Mission Support Command Public Affairs

Brig. Gen. Steven W. Ainsworth, commanding general for the 7th Mission Support Command (center), listens to a brief on military retiree Tricare benefits during the 99th Regional Support Command Retirement Services Office biannual preretirement brief hosted by the 7th MSC Feb. 4.

The 7th Mission Support Command hosted the 99th Regional Support Command Retirement Services Office biannual preretirement brief for 22 Soldiers and civilians Feb. 4 at Armstrong’s Club on Vogelweh Family Housing.

The 99th RSO briefs U.S. Army Reserve and National Guard military retirees and potential military retiree communities across Europe about their military retirement benefits and services twice a year with the 7th MSC providing support.

“Our goal was to provide Army Reserve retirement services in the 7th MSC footprint,” said Maj. Quana Wright, 99th Regional Support Command Retirement Services officer in charge.

The brief covered many topics, including the survivor benefit program, reserve retirement points, discharge vs. the retired reserve, final retired pay, Tricare medical benefits and Veterans Affairs’ benefits.

The goal is to reach as many USAR Soldiers in Europe as possible, which is the 99th RSO area of responsibility for retirement support services, said Philip Freeborn, strength manager for the G1, 7th Mission Support Command.

Soldiers approaching military retirement should update their DEERS and AKO contact information and also maintain a copy of their personnel and medical files, he added.

The brief is sponsored by The Army Soldier for Life Retirement Services Program, which provides assistance to Soldiers and their families preparing for, transitioning to or already in retirement.

“(The) 7th MSC drilling reservists, 7th MSC active guard reserve and Soldiers who have retired from USAR residing in Europe attend this brief,” said Freeborn.

Through a network of RSOs, the program provides counseling to these groups on their rights, benefits and entitlements, assists with Survivor Benefit Plan elections, assists with Reserve Component Survivor Benefit Plan elections and keeps the retiree population informed of law and benefit changes, Freeborn said.

One of the most common questions asked of Wright was, “How can I correct my retirement points worksheet and what supporting documentation should I provide.”

Sgt. 1st Class Stephen Warren, the 7th MSC senior human resources noncommissioned officer was onsite to help attendees with their current reserve retirement points.

“One tip is to start a continuity book to show when you get ready for retirement. Then you have a good snapshot of your military career, and then it is easier to prepare for your military retirement,” Wright said. “It makes all the difference in the world by maximizing your retirement pay.”

Wright recommended for Soldiers to check out the My Army Benefits website and the HRC website referencing retirement services as a way to research military retirement benefits.

The events are open to USAR Soldiers and spouses interested in receiving the latest information to assist in retirement or in preparation for retirement, with the 99th RSC RSO mostly gearing towards “Gray Area” retirees, who are USAR retirees before age 60, Freeborn said.

The purpose of the briefing is to make sure the knowledge and understanding of all the programs and opportunities are afforded to retirees so that they can make informed decisions as they plan for retirement, he added.

“It was excellent, and they need to come twice a year,” said Sgt. Maj. Cecil D. Blount, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, G1, 7th Civil Support Command before it became the 7th MSC, who is currently in the Individual Ready Reserve, awaiting retirement. “They should do radio and newspaper announcements and send out individual letters to the retirees. The main point that really helped me was about how to fill out the RCSBP election certificate form.”

Blount recommends future attendees come with a list of questions and do a one on one with the RSO team.

“I found it very useful and a lot of things I didn’t know and a lot of things I thought I knew, that were wrong, like the timing procedure for submitting for retirement,” said Col. Mona Jibril, chief, Civil Military Operations Center, 361st CA Brigade and a Ph.D. student in International Relations in Reading, England.

Freeborn said that it is the Soldiers’ responsibility to submit the paperwork for their benefits.

The briefings give the Reserve Soldiers and their loved ones the tools to make informed decisions that will have a lifelong impact and the retired Soldier continues to be a part of the Army family, Freeborn said.

“I recommend others to come, and with questions,” Jibril said. “There is plenty to absorb but I got a lot out of the questions.”

Editor’s Note: This brief is given biannually at alternating garrison locations in Stuttgart, Wiesbaden, Kaiserslautern, Vicenza and Grafenwoehr. The next brief is tentatively scheduled for the Vicenza area in the Fall of 2017. For more information contact Mr. Philip Freeborn at: philip.j.freeborn.civ@mail.mil.