The DoD SkillBridge program provides an opportunity for Service members to gain valuable civilian work experience through specific industry training, apprenticeships, or internships during the last 180 days of service. SkillBridge connects Service members with industry partners in real-world job experiences.
For Service members SkillBridge provides an invaluable chance to work and learn in civilian career areas. For industry partners SkillBridge is an opportunity to access and leverage the world’s most highly trained and motivated workforce at no cost. Service members participating in SkillBridge receive their military compensation and benefits, and industry partners provide the training and work experience.
SkillBridge is an excellent benefit for installation and Unit Commanders who have members nearing military separation. SkillBridge can help Service members bridge the gap between the end of service and the beginning of their civilian careers. Commanders can greatly ease this transition to civilian life by supporting their reports’ interest in SkillBridge. When mission permits, Commanders who support SkillBridge participation are helping their personnel transition more seamlessly from service to a civilian career with a trusted employer.
Separating Service members can be granted up to 180 days of permissive duty to focus solely on training full-time with approved industry partners after unit commander (first O-4/Field Grade commander in chain of command) provides written authorization and approval. These industry partners offer real-world training and work experience in in-demand fields of work while having the opportunity to evaluate the Service member’s suitability for the work.
The link below will take you directly to the DOD SkillBridge webpage, which will provide you with additional information:
**NEW** Amazon is now officially a DoD SkillBridge provider, meaning they can take in active duty military members into Amazon for internship opportunities and upon successful completion they can extend them full time offers to become Amazonians! Military Affairs is launching internship opportunities this year in select operation sites. Service members can apply now for these opportunities by typing in “Amazon Military SkillBridge” on amazon.jobs and they are hosting a webinar today with more information about this cohort (flyer attached). Please spread the word to your active duty friends and family members. If they have any more questions about Amazon Military SkillBridge (AMSB), feel free to direct them to email@example.com.
A short video about this cohort:
Here’s a link to this on-line guide that covers Basic Pay, BAH, retirement, family support, VA loans, TRICARE, and educational benefits. It is a great resource if you have questions about how something works:
Anyone with an upcoming statutory retirement that would be interested in staying on active-duty should read the NAVADMIN below. Statutory retirements include retirements required by law for age, years of commissioned service, years of active service, or pursuant to twice failure of selection to the next higher grade.
This is not for people who are voluntarily retiring or separating and want to stick around for an extra 6-12 months, perhaps because you can’t travel to interview, you are not sure of the civilian job market, or you just want to continue to serve. That one can be read at this link.
PASS TO OFFICE CODES:
FM CNO WASHINGTON DC//N1//
INFO CNO WASHINGTON DC//N1//
MSGID/NAVADMIN/CNO WASHINGTON DC/N1/APR//
SUBJ/EXPANDED OPPORTUNITY FOR RETENTION ON ACTIVE-DUTY IN A RETIRED STATUS
FOR ACTIVE-DUTY OFFICERS WITH PENDING STATUTORY RETIREMENTS//
NARR/REF A IS NAVADMIN 080/20, NAVY MITIGATION MEASURES IN RESPONSE TO
CORONAVIRUS OUTBREAK UPDATE 3. REF B IS NAVADMIN 089/20, VOLUNTARY
EXTENSIONS FOR ACTIVE COMPONENT NAVY MEMBERS WITH APPROVED SEPARATION OR
RETIREMENT DATES. REF C IS MILPERSMAN 1811-010, RETENTION ON OR RECALL TO
ACTIVE-DUTY IN A RETIRED STATUS.//
RMKS/1. This NAVADMIN expands the deliberate path of the Navy to mitigate
the effects of COVID-19 as announced by references (a) and (b). Due to the
uncertainty regarding the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic and the need to
maintain operational, Sailor and family readiness, this NAVADMIN will help
provide additional stability to both the Navy and our families.
2. The Navy is accepting applications from active-duty and full- time
support (FTS) officers in the rank of captain or below with a statutory
retirement date between now and 1 December 2020 who desire to be retained on
active-duty in a retired status (often referred to as retire/retain).
Statutory retirements include retirements required by law for age, years of
commissioned service, years of active service, or pursuant to twice failure
of selection to the next higher grade. The period of retention, if granted,
would extend through 31 December 2020, or earlier if requested, and is only
applicable to retention at the current command of the officer.
Officers granted retire/retain are not eligible for permanent change of
station (PCS) orders.
3. Reference (c) provides many details regarding retire/retain.
However, the limit on the authorized number of retired officers retained in
an active status and the submission time requirements for a retire/retain
request are relaxed. Requests submitted per this NAVADMIN must be received
prior to the retirement date of the officer to enable review and adjudication
of the request before retirement, but not later than 1 July 2020.
Interested, eligible officers are encouraged to submit applications as soon
4. Requests for retention in a retired status are submitted by the officer
via their commanding officer to Navy Personnel Command, Officer Retirements
Branch (PERS-835) by e-mail to pers_835_retirements(at)navy.mil. The
retire/retain request shall include the following information:
a. Retirement date of the officer and a request for a retention duration
ending on 31 December 2020, or earlier if desired.
b. Justification and reason for request (cite this NAVADMIN).
c. E-mail address and phone number of the officer.
5. Requests will not be approved for officers who have approved retirement
as a result of:
b. Selection for early retirement by a selective early retirement board
c. Secretary of the Navy direction for misconduct.
6. Notification of approval or disapproval will be provided to officers via
their chain of command.
7. Questions regarding retire/retain should be referred to PERS-835 at
8. Released by Vice Admiral John B. Nowell, Jr, N1.//
Here’s a link to the article:
Provided below is a new NAVADMIN announcing the Navy is accepting applications from officers and enlisted personnel who desire to delay their separation or retirement. Service Members with an approved separation or retirement date before 1 April 2021 are eligible to submit a request to their Detailer to have their separation or retirement date delayed between 6 and 12 months (duration specified by Service Member). All Service Members interested in extending, are invited to apply, but priority for approval will be given to those Service Members filling sea duty and critical billets. Requests must be received by 1 July 2020. Please see below for more specifics and contact your Detailer with questions.
UNCLASSIFIED// ROUTINE R 261427Z MAR 20 MID110000525665U FM CNO WASHINGTON DC TO NAVADMIN INFO CNO WASHINGTON DC BT UNCLAS NAVADMIN 089/20 PASS TO OFFICE CODES: FM CNO WASHINGTON DC//N1// INFO CNO WASHINGTON DC//N1// MSGID/NAVADMIN/CNO WASHINGTON DC/N1/MAR// SUBJ/VOLUNTARY EXTENSIONS FOR ACTIVE COMPONENT NAVY MEMBERS WITH APPROVED SEPARATION OR RETIREMENT DATES// REF/A/NAVADMIN/OPNAV/212007ZMAR20// NARR/REF A IS NAVADMIN 080/20, NAVY MITIGATION MEASURES IN RESPONSE TO CORONAVIRUS OUTBREAK UPDATE 3.// RMKS/1. This NAVADMIN announces the deliberate path of the Navy to mitigate the effects of COVID-19 and maintain operational, Sailor and family readiness. Due to the uncertainty regarding the duration of the COVID-19 Pandemic, the mandated all stop on PCS travel and the resulting effect on the U.S. economy, the incentives and extensions in this NAVADMIN will help provide some stability to both the Navy and our families. 2. The Navy is accepting applications from officers and enlisted personnel who desire to delay their separation or retirement. Service Members with an approved separation or retirement date before 1 April 2021 are eligible to submit a request to their detailer to have their separation or retirement date delayed between 6 and 12 months (duration specified by Service Member). All Service Members interested in extending, are invited to apply, but priority for approval will be given to those Service Members filling sea duty and critical billets. Requests must be received by 1 July 2020. Command endorsed requests to delay a separation or retirement date should be initiated through the appropriate detailer. a. Service Members who are separating or retiring due to High Year Tenure (HYT) may apply for a waiver of their current HYT gate. HYT waivers will be considered for up to an additional 12 months for enlisted Sailors filling critical operational billets both at sea and shore. Requests will be approved on a case-by-case basis. Sailors will submit a command endorsed Form 1306/7 Enlisted Personnel Action Request (ePAR) to My Navy Career Center (MNCC) via MyNavy Portal or by emailing the ePAR request directly to askmncc(at)navy.mil. b. Service Members who are separating at their EAOS prior to 31 December 2020 due to Physical Fitness Assessment (PFA) failures may request an extension to their EAOS until 31 December 2020 to enable participation in the fall PFA cycle and potentially regain reenlistment eligibility. Extension requests under this guidance should be forwarded on a command endorsed Form 1306/7 to MNCC via MyNavy Portal or by emailing the ePAR request directly to askmncc(at)navy.mil. Officers should contact their detailers. c. Enlisted Sailors with an approved separation or retirement date who are in billets that are eligible for Sea Duty Incentive Pay (SDIP) and who are approved for a voluntary extension as described above will receive SDIP for those extensions. Exceptions to the timeline to request SDIP and to the length of extension for SDIP have been approved to accommodate these requests. The latest SDIP eligibility chart can be found at https://www.mnp.navy.mil/group/pay-and-benefits. This chart is updated periodically so check for recent additions. For Sailors who are in an SDIP eligible billet, a Form 1306/7 ePAR should be submitted to MNCC at askmncc(at)navy.mil and your detailer. d. While all Service Members are encouraged to apply, the following will not be approved: (1) Service Members pending mandatory separation or retirement for age. (2) Service Members approved for disability separation or retirement. (3) Officers who twice fail to select for promotion and whose separation or retirement is required by law. (4) Service Members being separated for misconduct. 3. In addition to extensions for Service Members with approved separations and retirements, the Navy is opening up opportunity for separated Service Members to come back to Active-Duty. Specifically, Service Members who have recently separated and are interested in reentry are encouraged to contact their local prior enlisted or officer recruiter. 4. Questions regarding delaying a Service Members separation or retirement date should be referred to the appropriate detailer, community manager or by contacting MNCC. The point of contact for questions regarding SDIP is Mr. Keith Tucker, PERS-40DD, 1-901-874-3545 or Keith.Tucker(at)Navy.mil.// 5. Released by Vice Admiral John B. Nowell, Jr, N1.// BT #0001 NNNN UNCLASSIFIED//
WASHINGTON (NNS) — The Navy has suspended all in-person Transition Assistance Program classes due to social distancing rules now in place to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
But the Navy is not eliminating the training requirement and instead is authorizing all separating and retiring sailors to complete this requirement online, allowing them to separate on time.
Here’s what you need to know:
“Commanders must continue to ensure transitioning Service Members are prepared to reintegrate into the civilian community, especially in the challenging times we face. Vice Adm. John B. Nowell, the Navy’ top uniformed personnel official said in NAVADMIN 082/20.
Active-Duty Sailors retiring or separating are exempt from the stop movement, which means that separations and retirements will go on as scheduled, unless Sailors request and are approved to reenlist or extend
The course completion requirement is also still in place for Reserve Sailors on active-duty orders for more than 179 days as well as mobilized reservists within 60 days of redeployment and demobilization.
For those with enough time left on the books, the message recommends they simply reschedule for a later date.
Those inside their 365-days prior to separation start time or 90-days prior to separation Capstone requirement must complete their training through the Joint Knowledge Online Website. Details on the TAP virtual curriculum to include links to the training available on the Department of Defense Transition Assistance Program Website.
What’s not changed is the requirement for initial Self-Assessment Counseling, Pre-Separation counseling and Capstone sessions. These can still be done in-person using proper social-distancing protocol or telephonically by command career counselors or TAP managers.
TAP related questions can be directed to Mr. Tom Albert, OPNAV N170C, at (901)-874-4254, DSN 882 or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more news from Chief of Naval Personnel, visit www.navy.mil/local/cnp/.
In the recently released Winter Medical Corps Newsletter, I noticed this paragraph in the “Readiness in the Reserves” article:
I have just returned from PERS-9 (Reserves), reviewing important administrative processes. Here is the gouge…
HPSP Credit: Jeanitta Edwards verifies that the member was a HPSP participant and that the member is in a critical wartime skill (defined by DOD each year). Once she verifies this information, she sends it to another individual to load in the points for the year as credit towards retirement. The instruction requires a full year of service to receive credit for 1 year and caps the credit at 4 years. Unfortunately, because many medical schools start in July and graduate in May, the 4th year does not qualify. Some may have earned other points that year which can carry over for credit towards a good year. The 15 gratuity points are allocated on a pro rata basis so you will only get half those points for a half a year of participation. We will post the guiding documents to the Medical Corps Homepage. Please note that the actual HPSP policy is currently being rewritten.
A reader asked, “What are the official critical wartime specialties?”
Here is the portion of the document that lists them:
So what do those mysterious codes mean? They are defined in the Promo Prep, but since I’m such a nice guy here is the translation. The CWS include:
- General Surgery (15C)
- Neurosurgery (15D)
- Orthopedics (15H)
- Radiology (16Y)
- Anesthesia (15B)
- Internal Medicine Subspecialties (16R1)
- Emergency Medicine (16P)
- Flight Surgery (15A)
- OB/GYN (15E)
- GMO (15F)
- Family Medicine (16Q)
- General Internal Medicine (16R)
- UMO (16U)
- Psychiatry (16X)
Update just prior to publication – My wife (a Reservist) was sent this chart in the Health Professions Officer Special and Incentive Pay Plan, and the specialties under “USNR” match the list above:
If you are in one of these specialties, you can get retirement credit for your time in HPSP (or at least 3 years of the 4). In addition to the info above, here is what else I could find about this program:
I’m a huge fam of Jim Lange. He’s a noted expert in financial management, saving for retirement, and estate planning. He’s written a number of books, some of which you can get for free on this page. If I ever move back to Pennsylvania, I’ll probably have him do my estate planning so that I don’t have to worry about anything in retirement.
He sends out a monthly newsletter that I get via snail mail, and it usually has a useful article in it. If you want it, you can get it here.
A previous edition had a section called “Jim’s Point-by-Point Summary of the Whole Retirement & Estate Planning Process.” It was simple but extremely useful. Below in bold are each of the points he lists for people who are still working, which is most of my readership. Let’s take each bolded point and militarize it for you so it is specific to those of us in the military.
Contribute at least the amount to your retirement plan that your employer is willing to match or partially match.
For those under the legacy retirement plan, this is not an option. For those under the new Blended Retirement System (BRS), you need to contribute 5% of your basic pay to the Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) to get the pull 5% DoD match:
You also need to make sure you contribute 5% every month and don’t fill the TSP too early. If you max it out in October, you won’t get a match in November or December.
If you can afford to, contribute the maximum allowed to your retirement plan even if your employer does not match.
This is $19,500 in 2020. You can do an extra $6,500 if you are 50 or over. You can even do more if you are in a combat zone.
Once you have maximized contributions to your plan at work, contribute the maximum you can to an IRA, even if you cannot take a tax deduction on it.
If you are able to fill your TSP account, next you’ll need to open an IRA at an investment firm. Vanguard is the obvious choice due to their across the board low investment fees and unique non-profit structure, but you can do this anywhere (Schwab, Fidelity, etc.).
If you make too much to contribute to a Roth IRA, you just use the back door Roth IRA option.
Consider your personal tax bracket when trying to decide if you should contribute to a Roth or a traditional IRA/retirement plan.
With a traditional plan, you take a tax deduction now and pay taxes later when you take the money out. With a Roth plan you pay the taxes now and the withdrawals are completely tax free.
The general principle is that if you are in a lower tax bracket now than when you are retired, you do the Roth. If you are in a higher tax bracket now, you use the traditional.
No one really knows what the future holds, though, making this decision tough. Here are some resources for you to check out when making this decision:
Do not take loans against your retirement plan. Allow the tax-deferred or tax-free status of the account to maximize the growth of your money.
While the TSP allows loans, I refuse to link to any information about it. Once you put money away for retirement, you don’t borrow from it unless it is an ABSOLUTE EMERGENCY.
The Bottom Line
Here are the point-by-point summary of steps Jim Lange suggests you take if you are saving for retirement:
- Contribute at least the amount to your retirement plan that your employer is willing to match or partially match, which is 5% of basic pay in the BRS.
- If you can afford to, contribute the maximum allowed to your retirement plan even if your employer does not match, which is $19,500 in the TSP ($26,000 if you’re 50+).
- Once you have maximized contributions to your plan at work, contribute the maximum you can to an IRA, even if you cannot take a tax deduction on it. Use a back door Roth IRA if you need to.
- Consider your personal tax bracket when trying to decide if you should contribute to a Roth or a traditional IRA/retirement plan.
- Do not take loans against your retirement plan. Allow the tax-deferred or tax-free status of the account to maximize the growth of your money.
From Chief of Naval Personnel Public Affairs
WASHINGTON (NNS) — Navy announced improvements to the Transition Assistance Program (TAP) in NAVADMIN 223/19, released Sept. 30.
The message outlines five key elements of the changes effective Oct. 1:
- Mandatory initial counseling/self-assessment to be completed 365 days or more prior to release from active duty.
- Assign Sailors to at least one of three pathways (Tier I, Tier II, & Tier III)
- Mandatory pre-separation counseling to be commenced 365 days or more prior to release from active duty as part of Day 1 of TAP class.
- Adjustment of Department of Labor Employment Workshop to one day vice three.
- Completion of one of four two-day tracks as part of day 4 and 5 of transition course.
- Documentation of TAP completion via DD Form 2648 in DMDC.
“Implementing these changes aligns the Navy with direction provided by the National Defense Authorization Act,” said Tom Albert, Navy TAP Manager, OPNAV N17 Competency and Compliance branch. “But more importantly, these changes offer a better individualized transition process to civilian life for our Sailors and their spouses.”
Under the three-tier system, Sailors preparing to leave the service will meet with a counselor to discuss their plans after separation or retirement. From there, they will be classified into one of three tiers.
“For Tier I Sailors, they don’t need as much as far as services. They’re pretty much engaged in their transition,” said Anthony Stevens, the military readiness section lead at Commander Naval Installations Command. “Many of them already have a job lined up, or they’re retiring.”
Service members in Tier II are ready to transition, but not yet fully prepared. In other words, they may be saving their money and looking into careers, but may even still be on the fence about staying in the service, he said.
Tier III service members, “Don’t have any plans whatsoever,” Stevens said. This could include service members who are being discharged under other-than-honorable circumstances or are leaving the service on short notice because of an injury or disability.
Once service members are funneled into one of the three tiers, the counselor recommends a specific track — either higher education, employment, entrepreneurship or vocational skills training — based on the person’s goals for life after the military.
TAP is mandatory for active and reserve personnel who serve 180 or more days of consecutive active duty and must be completed prior to release and issuance of DD214.
Sailor 2025 is the Navy’s program to improve and modernize personnel management and training systems to more effectively recruit, develop, manage, reward, and retain the force of tomorrow.
(Enjoy this always relevant re-post.)
Two recent events led to this post. First, this article about becoming a multimillionaire in the military appeared on military.com. Second, I was having a discussion with some other officers about this topic and they thought my opinion on the subject was different from what they had heard before. Because of this, we’re going to examine the value of a military pension.
How Much of a Pension Do You Get?
Let’s look at two likely scenarios for a physician. First, someone who stays in for 20 years and retires as an O-5. Second, someone who stays in for 30 years and retires as an O-6. Their pensions in today’s dollars based on this calculator would equal approximately:
20 year O-5 = $4,102.50/month or $49,230/year
30 year O-6 = $8,053.50/month or $96,642/year
Remember that your military pension payments are adjusted annually for inflation, a very valuable benefit.
How Much is This Worth?
The easiest way to answer this is to examine the pension and figure out how much money you’d need to have invested in order to pay yourself exactly the same amount of money inflation adjusted for the rest of your life. Unfortunately, this is not a simple issue.
Military.com Article “Can Military Service Make You a Millionaire?”
The aforementioned military.com article states, “The Defense Department puts the value of the monthly check of an O-6 retiring today with 30 years of service at $2.2 million…The DoD made a number of assumptions, but the idea was to put a price tag or value on the monthly military retirement check a military retiree will receive.” This article doesn’t go into the assumptions made, but let’s just take it at face value.
My MBA Finance Professor
In 2013 when I was taking my MBA, I asked my Finance professor this very question. I asked him how he would value a 21 year O-6 pension, another common circumstance for a physician. At the time this pension was approximately $53,400/year. Here is what he said:
“If you looked at this as an ‘endowment’ where one would not spend the principal, then take the annualized benefit $53,400 ($4,455 x 12) and divide by a long-term rate such as the 30 year T-Bond rate (3% in 2013) $1,782,000. In other words, if you had that $1,782,000 and put it all into 30 year T-Bonds at 3% you would get your $4,455/month. Of course, the issue is whether the 3% is a good number for the long-term. If, however, you were to look at this as an ‘annuity’ where you would spend down the principal until time of death, then you have all sorts of demographic stats issues (e.g., expected life after retirement, future interest rates, variability of the annuity investment, cost of living adjustments, etc.). In a nutshell, it can get quite complex. There are a number of websites available often through reputable firms such as Fidelity, Vanguard, etc., that you can perhaps access that have such calculations available already (instead of having to create your own model). You can plug in your what if’s and see what pops out.”
Using the 30 year T-bond (Treasury bond) rate from 3/18/16, which was 2.68%, here is the valuation with his methodology:
20 year O-5 = $49,230/2.68% = $1,836,940
30 year O-6 = $96,642/2.68% = $3,606,044
The problem with this analysis is that a regular 30 year T-bond is not inflation adjusted, so in my opinion you’d have to compare it to TIPS (Treasury Inflation Protected Securities). A recent yield on a 30 year TIPS bond is 1.12%, which would value the two pensions we’re considering at:
20 year O-5 = $49,230/1.12% = $4,395,536
30 year O-6 = $96,642/1.12% = $8,628,750
Keep in mind that the lower the Treasury bond yields go, the more valuable your pension is because you’d have to invest more money to get the same payout. Since today’s Treasury yields are at historic lows, these valuations are probably as high as they’ll ever get.
If you go to annuity websites and try to purchase an annuity for these two amounts, here is how much they would cost:
For a 20 year male O-5 who is 50 years old, lives in Virginia, and wants to earn $4,103/month or $49,236/year with a 2% annual income increase (equivalent to the inflation adjustment of your military pension) the pension would cost $1,322,826.
For a 30 year male O-6 who is 60 years old, lives in Virginia, and wants to earn $8,054/month or $96,648/year with a 2% annual income increase (equivalent to the inflation adjustment of your military pension) the pension would cost $2,103,257.
The 4% Rule
The 4% rule is a commonly accepted retirement “rule” that says you can take 4% out of your retirement nest egg every year, annually adjusted for inflation, and never run out of money. In other words, for every $40,000/year of income you need in retirement, you need to have $1 million saved for retirement. Whether the 4% rule is valid in today’s low yield environment has been debated, but let’s just assume it is still valid (because I think it is).
If you divide the annual military pension by 4% it would give you the size of the nest egg you’d need to withdraw that amount:
20 year O-5 = $49,230/4% = $1,230,750
30 year O-6 = $96,642/4% = $2,416,050
Keep in mind that your government pension is guaranteed by the federal government but the assets used in the typical application of the 4% rule, like your retirement accounts and other assets, are not, making your pension a much safer bet that is probably worth more than the numbers above.
There is some value in the military pension that people tend to underestimate. First, it is guaranteed by the US government, which makes it “risk free”. The only option discussed above that would offer this same value is the valuation comparing the pension to Treasuries. Even an annuity from an insurance company is not risk free because insurance companies do go out of business. (I will admit, though, that this is a rare event, and you could diversity by purchasing annuities from multiple companies, so an annuity can be pretty close to “risk free”.)
Second, you can’t screw it up. Investors are their own worst enemy. They buy high, sell low, trade too frequently, don’t save enough, over estimate how high their returns will be, pay excessive investment fees, and other errors that can very easily screw up your well planned retirement. You can not screw up your military pension.
Fourth, and this benefit is HUGE for me. I see my military pension as equivalent to a massive pile of TIPS. This allows me to take much more risk with the remainder of my investment portfolio and net worth. How much risk? Overall my asset allocation is 90% in stocks, which is a lot more risk than most people would recommend at my age of 40. Because of my pension, though, I don’t think I’m taking too much risk.
The Bottom Line
As you can see, a military pension is risk free, inflation adjusted, and can be quite valuable. Can you make more money as a civilian, save well, and accumulate even more than this? Yes, but this is all determined by your civilian salary, discipline as an investor, and rate of return on your investments, which no one knows since they can’t predict the future. A military pension is a very valuable and underappreciated financial asset that is probably worth somewhere between $1,200,000 and $2,500,000, depending on how long you stay in and what rank you achieve. If you try to match the risk with Treasury bonds at today’s rates, it is worth a lot more.