Posted on Jul 31, 2019
SSG Brian Kresge
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I know I'm relatively anomalous within the National Guard, so I'll give some background. I enlisted in the 1990s, served 5 years active (extending for an accompanied tour in Alaska), and with breaks for college and grad school, have served the last 20 years in two states' Guard. My civilian career has really taken off in the last few years, though I've been stymied at times by being in the Guard. We do use Tricare Reserve Select; it saves us several hundred a month in insurance premiums, even though my civilian employer does have a comparable plan in terms of benefits.

And because of those breaks in service and some snafus with interstate transfers, I have 18 good years as opposed to 20 good years for retirement. Because of some family circumstances, I also can't really do beyond another 2 years. Unfortunately, it would also be profoundly difficult for me to commit to yet another MOSQ longer than 2 weeks in order to reenlist. A deployment is easier than 21 day Annual Trainings or 4-16 week schools, as the latter are too short to hire a temp, but too long to leave my civilian work undone.

The retirement money isn't a concern. Between my civilian 401K and Roth IRA, I'm already set for a comfortable retirement. The jump in premium between TRS and Tricare Retired is hefty, though, and my civilian employer plan comes in cheaper. I don't feel like I'm missing out on some earned benefit, really. Thanks to the Army and Guard, I have a bachelors and masters with no student debt. We bought our "forever home" in Maine using a VA Loan. And I've had the honor of serving with wonderful people.

I'd also add - I do plan on getting out at the end of this enlistment. I think the question would be a no-brainer if I were active duty and close to retirement. M-Day Guard retirement, on the other hand, even with prior active duty time and a few Title 10/Title 32 stints, is much smaller at 20 years, and some folks in professional careers can bank that if they had the career time back from MUTA 6s and 8s alone.

Is there something about actual retirement from the Guard that I'm missing?
Posted in these groups: Retirement logo RetirementReserves logo Reserves
Edited >1 y ago
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Responses: 14
LTC Bill Koski
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I wouldn't trade mine for the world. We are all in different circumstances I and you have done your homework. My career was more civil service and a little more friendly to a military career, therefore easier to manage.
My civilian career benefitted from my military training and experience, my employer gained from that as well.
Eventually, I retired from the civil service and went AGR, so perhaps this is a biased perspective. It all depends on an individuals situation. 18 years is a shame to not retire with 20 in my humble opinion. You certainly worked for it.
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CW5 Jack Cardwell
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Since you are so close I would stay till you have 20 good years. Since you do not need the money put all your Guard pay in TSP. Once you retire you will be in grey area till age 60. They you will be eligible for all military retirement benefits including Tricare. That retired pay would give you a good fun money kitty. My brother left the Army Reserves with 17 years and he regrets it but not because of the money. Just the though of not having a full career.
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MSgt Neil Greenfield
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So, what’s your thinking about reserve retirement now? With the economy the way it is, especially with this pandemic, every little bit of income helps. I have about nine months before I start drawing my reserve retirement pay, and I will be happy about it. It’s all a part of our retirement strategy.
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SSG Brian Kresge
SSG Brian Kresge
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For me, leaving the Guard at the end of March was still a good decision. Again, I think I'm unusual. I never really did include Guard retirement as a long-term strategy. Staying in as long as I did just sort of...happened?
The biggest punch was the jump in insurance premiums, but that would have happened with Guard retirement, too. And frankly, my civilian employer's PPO is less expensive with a better in-network situation with our providers than Tricare Retired Reserve.
Without MUTA 6s or MUTA 8s, I'm able to generate more billable hours per month that more than make up for what I would receive at 58, both in terms of what I have to invest and what I have to put to expenses *right now*, like my oldest starting college this year, and my second oldest soon to follow.
I thank the Divine every day that I'm in a position where my workload and income has fared so well during the pandemic.
There's a very good chance that I'll be able to retire comfortably and early, on the merits of success in my civilian career, or at least significantly lessen how much I have to work in my 50s.
I owe this all to the military, including the wherewithal to commit to long-term financial (and contingency) planning. If it weren't for the GI Bill/Army College Fund, I wouldn't have gone to college. If it weren't for a leg-up from additional programs in the PA Guard, I wouldn't have finished grad school generally debt free. Reserving our VA Loan for our home in Maine was a prudent choice, as well. Everything that a long period of service has done for me has been of as much long-term value as retirement would have been.

If I were giving advice to a service member on the precipice of committing to finishing out their 20, or more, the present state of the economy, depending on their vocation and state of their own planning, I would definitely urge them to consider the axiomatic notion that they should stay in. I do have many friends for whom the Guard income, as well as periods of state active duty during COVID-19, has been a lifesaver. One fellow came back from a deployment to Poland to find that the restaurant he managed shut its doors and wouldn't be retaining him. Folks in that position, it's absolutely in their best interests to maintain their reserve status as long as possible and build those points, especially if they aren't able to sustain a civilian retirement plan.
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MSgt Neil Greenfield
MSgt Neil Greenfield
>1 y
SSG Brian Kresge Good for you. I’ve known more that a few people who got out between the 16 and 20 year mark, later on wishing they had stayed in, just for the retirement benefits. I remember an active duty 0-3 who was RIF’d and enlisted in the Air Guard to finish out his 20. He was an oddity. I almost got out at the 15~ year mark as I was getting tired of it. But I weighed the pro’s and con’s and decided to stay in. That’s what you did and got out. Good luck with your decision. You can always reenlist later on if you want.
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CW2 Supply Systems Technician
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SSG Brian Kresge have you looked into the Army Reserves to finish out your career. In my experience the reserves is not as heavy on the muta 6 and 8s as the Guard seems to be. You would need to talk to a recruiter for more info. Also be sure to check your points to see if you still have 18 good years. Best of luck in your future.
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