Let me tell you a story about an event that occurred two weeks ago. It will lead into a discussion of a topic that is good to know for all reservists. Please bear with me as I describe the situation (because it’s a bit lengthy) and I will get the point after I finish telling the tale.
This story began with an email from a person at National Guard Bureau who had stumbled upon my website. This person, whom I will call Chief J, sent a message Friday morning which I’ll paste below:
Hi XXX XXXXX:
You probably mentioned this to me already – but, in case you didn’t
– ran across RCretirement.com by DJ – just wanted to say I love it!
Thinking this is probably you. 🙂
Well, naturally, since I like to be honest (and can rarely resist a little flattery), admitted:
I confess. Yes, it’s me. 🙂
Thank you very much.
Out of curiosity (since it’s a little nothing of a site), how did you find it?
Her response was this.
I was googling and researching a question someone posed to me – 🙂
I must admit it’s nice that the site is starting to pop up in web searches. I replied with:
I hope you found the answer. Otherwise, I might have a topic for my next post. 🙂
Within mere minutes, I received this:
Don’t know if you have time to assist on this but we are working on an IG complaint and it is regarding establishing anniversary year ending dates –
We know the effective date prior to 1 Oct 95 is established by date entered RC – After 1 Oct 95 it is established by date entered RC or AC.
We realize that the parenting guidance is DODI (Department of Defense Instruction) 1215.07. We cannot find this in the DODI – and cannot find anything in writing anywhere – Army, Navy, Marines, you name it, nothing. Do you by chance know?
I said I had experienced a similar problem with an Air National Guard member and added:
I have attached the letter from JAG along with excerpts from AR 140-185, DODI 1215.07, and NGR 680-2 (which gives timeframes for the different rules). I think you will find this useful.
Let me know if this answers your question, please. If not, I will do some more digging for you.
After very little time, I received a forwarded message from Chief J. which included information about the person in question. I’ll call him Chief M. Chief J. said she had one opinion on when the person’s anniversary (or retirement) year should begin and the people who ran the National Guard’s retirement points program had another opinion.
Anyway, this guy had been a Naval Academy cadet from 1977 to 1981 and commissioned into the Active Navy in 1981. In 1991, he went into the Navy Reserve and remained there for ten years. In 2008, he joined the Virginia National Guard.
NGB’s (National Guard Bureau’s) RPAM (Retirement Points Accounting Management) section said his year began when he joined the Navy Reserve. Chief J. thought it should begin when he joined the Active Navy. She was hoping I could break the tie and provide some useful advice to the debate.
I did a little digging into the rules for anniversary years and found, first of all, there were a LOT of them. Secondly, I found one which fit perfectly with his situation. Just to be sure of what I was thinking, I also built his service history in my points database and played around with it a bit. Despite one little glitch, everything about my theory worked out.
I then responded:
Just to see things from all angles, I rebuilt Cheif M’s points history in my database so I could play with the codes, years, etc. I have attached the points Worksheets for your reference.
There are a lot of factors to consider. I’m ultimately going to have to select the ONE rule that makes the most sense. In this case, I’m going to have to side with you on this one and say 05/26.
Here is my reasoning for this decision.
NGR 680-2, para 2-1 b (7) states:
Who was in a Service Academy and:
(a) Had no prior service and was appointed as a commissioned officer from a Service Academy, the anniversary year is the date of appointment.”
This is clearly the situation for this individual. However, the NGR has a confusing term which can easily lead to misinterpretation. See below.
Para 2-1 b (9) Exceptions. If an individual was:
(a) Inducted, and after that service was assigned to a reserve component before 1 January 1969, the anniversary year is the date assigned to a reserve component in an active status.
(b) Inducted and remained on active duty and later assigned to a reserve component on or after 1 January 1969, the anniversary year is the date inducted.
In this case, inducted is being used as a synonym for drafted. We even have a … code for that status, A9 (Draftee in any component after 1 Jan 69, or before 1 Jan 69 and entering a reserve component after that date with no break in service). If the A4 (code for Active Navy) were changed to A9, the AYE would adjust to 05/26 on its own (and he would have twenty qualifying years as a result).
However, this person was not draftee; he was an academy cadet. I believe RPAM is a great tool whose business rules rarely go wrong (except for computing reduced retirement age). I also believe it is not taking the source of Chief M’s commission into account and subsequently not applying the rules of NGB 680-2.
…Thank you for letting me add my thoughts to this debate. I hope all of this made sense. Please let me know if you have any other questions.
This satisfied Chief J. and appeared to settle the matter. Chief M. should have a retirement year starting in May rather than July as NGB had argued. This may seem like a trivial matter on its face but the decision actually affected whether Chief M. was eligible for a twenty-year letter now or after another year of service.
Now, let’s get to the “so what?” factor. What is an anniversary year and why does the date it starts / ends matter to a reservist?
An anniversary year (as it’s called in the National Guard but called a retirement year in the other reserve components) is the time during which a service member accrues retirement points. As I’ve said in other articles, an anniversary year is not a calendar or fiscal year; it is unique to every service member.
If an anniversary year begins at one point rather than another, the points earned during that timeframe may not be sufficient to qualify as a satisfactory year of service for retirement purposes. Remember that a satisfactory year is one with at least fifty retirement points in it.
In the case of Chief M. this was exactly the case. The distribution of points was different enough that one start date for his retirement year resulted in one year not qualifying for retirement accounting. The decision I suggested would cause that “bad” year to suddenly become a “good” year.
Since I said that everyone’s anniversary year is different, this means that the full-time staff at a reservist’s unit cannot make blanket statements (such as saying they will still have a “good year” if they miss a few weekend assemblies or if they miss annual training). The effect of missing duty days may have a negative effect on one service member but not affect another person. Obviously, it also helps if the member is aware of the dates of his anniversary year so he can know whether the advice he receives from a full-timer is accurate.
For those of you who may be interested in all of the rules for anniversary years I mentioned above, I will include an excerpt from the National Guard regulation which governs retirement points accountability. These rules are mirrored in the regulations for the other reserve components, as well. This is simply the one which I can access the easiest.
I hope this article has provided a worthwhile tidbit of knowledge for you and can help you in further understanding how to make the most of your service. Whether it does or not, I welcome any comments or questions you may have.
Thanks for being part of this audience and for joining me this week. Of course, I also thank you for your service. Have a great day and be sure to come back next week.
References: Excerpt from NGR 680-2
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