Tag: military

military

Holiday Mailing Deadlines Announced by USPS

The USPS has announced the holiday mailing deadlines for the 2016 holiday season that is just around the corner. These deadlines start from December 15 and last until December 23. Guidelines for international packages and packages for military members serving in other nations have also been mentioned.

postal service

Details of the USPS Deadlines

The USPS suggests that people who wish the delivery of their mail by December 24th should stick to some deadlines. The announcement was made by the Madison Post Office and it lists all types of mailing, be it domestic, military or international mailing. The U.S. Postal Service has suggested that the customers should ship the items as per the dates mentioned here.

People looking to send oversized packages and less-than-urgent deliveries via the ground service should send their packages by December 15, 2016. People looking to send small packages weighing less than 13 ounces, single-piece envelopes and standard-sized mails with delivery in less than 3 business days should send the packages by December 20.

Americans who wish to avail the domestic service that needs to ensure delivery in 1, 2 or 3 business days should send them over by December 21 by using the Priority Mail option. A person who needs to send gifts until the last minute should use the Priority Mail Express which ensures that there is guaranteed overnight scheduled delivery to most of the locations. There are some restrictions that apply here. The deadline for Priority Mail Express is December 23.

International Delivery

Americans who need to send packages internationally during this holiday season must always note the deadlines as they are based on the locations where the mails are being sent. They should also remember to check the necessary customs guidelines and follow those to the letter.

Military Deliveries

The U.S. Postal Service would also be open to sending numerous care packages, cards and presents to the service members who are overseas. For people who are sending a package to a military member serving abroad, the postal service is offering a discounted price of $16.75 on the largest Priority Mail Flat Rate Box.

USPS also provides a discount of $2 per box for mails that are sent to worldwide destinations of Fleet Post Office, Air/Army Post Office and Diplomatic Post Office. If a person wants timely delivery of these packages, the person should ensure that the packages are sent to FPO, DPO and APO addresses overseas by the mailing dates that are listed on their websites.

Retiree Appreciation Day for Retired Military Personnel to be Held Soon

The Retiree Appreciation Day for retired military personnel is to be organized on October 7, 2016. The event would include lunch, U.S. Army Chorus, and some speeches. A retired Army Lt. Gen. Clarence McKnight, Jr. would deliver the keynote and talk about the Korean War.

retired veterans

Details on Retiree Appreciation Day for Retired Military Personnel

The Retiree Appreciation Day for retired military personnel is the 58th annual Retiree Appreciation Day event that will be celebrated on October 7, 2016. This event is sponsored by the Joint Base-Myer Henderson Hall Military Retiree Council. The event includes information and services for the retired military personnel as well as their family members.

Big Goals

The JBM-HH’s retirement services officer, Linda Hocking expressed delight about the prospect of organizing this event. She said that they try to make it better every year as it’s their big event.

The Arrangements

People who have retired from the military and their families are invited to visit the Andrew Rader U.S. Army Medical Health Clinic from 9 in the morning to the afternoon. During this time, they will get to enjoy an information expo and make use of services like health screenings. People who are eligible would also get flu shots.

The Transportation

Attendees who would like to participate in a wreath laying held at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at 11:15 a.m. would be able to get bus transportation from the clinic to Arlington National Cemetery. The bus would be ready to leave at 10:30 a.m.

The Program

The lunch would be served from noon to 1 p.m.  Members are requested to be present in the at the JBM-HH dining facility for lunch. At 1 p.m., the U.S. Army Chorus will perform. The performance would be organized at the Community Activity Center. Its location is 228 McNair Road, Bldg. 405. Soon after the performance, a retired Army Col. Albert Willner who is also the co-chairman of the retiree council would welcome the guests and give an instruction of the afternoon programming.

Keynote Speaker

The keynote speaker of the event is retired Army Lt. Gen. Clarence McKnight, Jr. He will be speaking about the Korean War. He is a veteran who served during Korean War and the Vietnam War. He is also the co-author of From Pigeons to Tweets: A General Who Led Dramatic Changes in Military Communications. During the Retiree Appreciation Day for retired military personnel, he will focus on how technology has changed during his 35-year-old career in the army.

Retired Veterans May Not Want to Retire in Indiana

Most of the retirees wish for making their retirement more exciting by retiring at a place where they can get all the facilities and live peacefully without the need for spending a lot of money on daily expenses. If you are among the retired veterans then you may want to keep Indiana away from the list of ideal destinations to retire. Why? A recent survey has the answers.

retired veteransWhat Do Retired Veterans Prefer Post Retirement?

It is a well-known fact that the average age of retirement for the officers is 47. As per Jill Gonzalez, who serves as an Analyst at a Washington-based personal finance site WalletHub, most retirees are left with 3 challenges at this stage. The first challenge is to re-enter the job force. It is the most likely challenge. The second challenge is to seek only veteran-specific jobs and the third challenge is to get VA care and benefits.

The Ranking

The company also ranked the best and worst states for retired veterans. In the list, Indiana was fourth from the bottom. The main reason for the low ranking was that Indiana partially taxes military pensions. The other reasons were a lack of VA health facilities and the low quality of the available VA health facilities. These reasons make Indiana a military retiree deterrent, revealed Gonzalez.

The Main Quality Parameters

WalletHub has ranked the states by measuring them on various quality parameters such as access to VA facilities, access to arts, access to leisure, the cost of living data, housing costs, the state tax on military pensions, the number of doctors per capita, etc. In total, 20 such quality parameters were used by the company to prepare the list.

The gist of the matter was also shared by Gonzalez. She said that the retirees must always know what they are getting into when they look for an ideal place to retire. They should particularly have a look at the state’s tax policies.

The List

The list prepared by WalletHub had 51 states and the overall topper of the list is Alaska. It is closely followed by South Dakota and Montana. Alaska is number one in providing the best economic environment while Montana is number one in providing health care and quality of life. The worst place to retire for retired veterans is Rhode Island where the economic environment and health care are nearly the worst and the quality of life is not so good either.

THE TSP STEPS UP FOR THE MILITARY by Dianna Tafazoli

military pay

Many individuals go into the military but do not retire or serve a full 20 years, the time usually required to retire and have a pension.  Those leaving the service before that time are left without a pension.  The Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) is estimated to add 250,000 military personnel each year to the rolls starting in 2018.  New troops to the military will be automatically signed up to the TSP starting January 1, 2018.  This will allow the troops the same level of participation as other TSP participants.

More than 83% of military personnel do not have retirement and by participating in the TSP, the retirement dynamics could change for military personnel who certainly need security in retirement.  The TSP has more than 4.7 million participants.  Adding the military personnel to its rolls will more than  strengthen the TSP and give the military the kind of added protection they need in retirement.

Often those military personnel who do have retirement of 20 years are young enough to go into another career.  They receive a monthly pension upon retirement or have the option of receiving a lump sum.  Many times troops use the lump sum money to make investments or purchases that might not be wise and find themselves still without the protection needed in retirement.

It is a good time for the Department of Defense to begin educating the military forces about the TSP and how it can help to ensure a safe and secure retirement future.

P. S.  Always Remember to Share What You Know.

Dianna Tafazoli

No further action against General David Petraeus

MTE5NTU2MzE1OTMxOTAzNDk5Ashton Carter who is the Defense Secretary has made the decision regarding the case of David Petraeus. He has indicated that there will not be any further actions taken by the Department against the retired General. This was indicated by a letter that was received by CNN this past week.

No more actions against David Petraeus:

The letter was meant to be received by Senator John McCain who is an Arizona Republican and also the Senate Armed Service Committee chairman.

The options that were available at Carter’s disposal were the following:

  1. Demote Petraeus to a 3-star general from a 4-star general. This would of course have also affected his retirement salary.
  2. Not make the demotion decision and allow David to enjoy the complete list of retirement benefits that he will now be set to achieve.

The letter’s credibility was confirmed by an official of the Defense department but there were no further elaborations made in this regard.

The whole situation developed when David acknowledged whilst in court proceedings that he provided Paula Broadwell access to classified material. Along with this, he also mentioned that he was in a personal relationship with the author. David Petraeus will still remain responsible for any wrongdoing that he might have done while being an active servant of the department.

 

Congress, the Last Battle for Women in Every Combat Role

U.S. Southern Command Gen. John F. Kelly

Four F-15 Eagle pilots from the 3rd Wing walk to their respective jets at Elmendorf Air Force Base, Alaska, on Wednesday, July 5, for the fini flight of Maj. Andrea Misener (far left). To her right are Capt. Jammie Jamieson, Maj. Carey Jones and Capt. Samantha Weeks. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Keith Brown)
(U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Keith Brown)

U.S. Southern Command Gen. John F. Kelly closed out his 45 year Marine Corps career by ringing a bell that he wants heard on Capitol Hill. It came at his last press conference from the Pentagon when asked to comment on Defense Secretary Ashton Carter’s planned implementation that every combat role without exception be opened to women.

Kelly responded that the only thing that should matter is what makes “us more lethal on the battlefield?” He expounded his answer by attacking the possibility of lowering standards in these roles in the future. Even though leaders and Congress have said standards will be kept high Kelly has one fear.

As women move into these roles, there will be questions by leaders and Congress why they are not moving up the ranks, receiving promotions or staying in these roles. This may inevitably lead to a lowering of the standards to make equality in leadership. He states “it will be very, very difficult to have any… real numbers come into the infantry or the Rangers or the Navy SEALs.” U.S. Southern Command Gen. John F. Kelly

Kelly further attacked those wanting to empower women through this agenda-priority in Washington stating it will lead to a lower of combat standards, not now, but at some point in the future.

On the other side of this conversation is one outspoken proponent of the Carter’s proposal, Rep. Tammy Duckworth, democrat for Illinois. As a retired Army National Guard Officer, Duckworth lost both legs and partial use of an arm while piloting a Black Hawk helicopter in Iraq.

Duckworth states “none of the women who are going to apply [and] meet the standards to serve in these units want the units to be less capable or less deadly.” She further stated that she is not surprised about a General stating comments along the lines of Kelly.

Duckworth admits not being able to make Ranger school, but knows there are a lot of guys that couldn’t either. “Whatever percentage of women can, even if it’s two percent, let them do the job!”

The discussion over skill exemptions put forth from the Marine Corps, the largest critic and naysayer about fully open and integrated gender training and combat roles, now goes before Congress for final decisions.

However even in Congress the debate is split between those that want to slightly modify Carter’s no-exception policy in opening all combat roles to woman and those that want all roles open to women that have the physical and mental toughness to do the job.

Currently about 10% of all military positions are closed to females totally almost 220,000 jobs. These positions are mainly infantry, reconnaissance, armor, and certain special operations units. So far the Marine Corps is the only military division to seek a skills-exemption for some front-line combat skill positions from gender integration arguing mixed gender units would be less capable in ground combat.

Even Duckworth admits that a women would need to be able to drag a 250lbs soldier (fully geared) while returning fire from their weapon to be able to meet the actual demands of ground combat, but agrees “If you can, and you’re ready to lay down your life for your country, good for you. Go do it.”

 

Military to get pay boosts in 2016 too

military payWhile there were news all over the place about the recent pay raise that was awarded to all the federal employees out there, there is also good news for the military. President Obama has recently given his approval on the one percent increase that is going to be granted to the military employees. In this regard, after a few recent developments, there is going to be a further 0.3 percent increased based on the locality of the employees.

 

Military getting pay boosts:

There are a few localities that will benefit heavily in this regard. The Huntsville-Decatur-Albertville area is a little low on the scale (16.36 percent) and the scale goes from 35.75 percent to 14.37 percent in the San Francisco Bay and the Albuquerque-Santa Fe area respectively. Here, it’s worth noting that the lowest entity on the scale is still greater than the rate for Alabama which is 14.35 percent.

All in all, going into the New Year, nothing can please a military servant more than knowing that they are going to get compensated more than they were in the previous year. This goes to show that their concerns and rights are equally important to the government than those of the rest.

TSP Expecting Military Influx

tsp plan military

The Thrift Investment Board of the Federal Retirement division of the Government has always been one for making announcements and dealing with all sorts of criticism along the way. They are trying to avoid as much criticism as they can these days and for that TSP board is making preparations to welcome the huge expected military influx in to the program by 2018.

New military members coming towards TSP:

The National Defense Authorization Act which was passed in November by Congress is intended to encourage the contemporary military members to make the investments in the TSP. The act will take effect starting next year.

The board is expecting over 500 thousand new additions within the first year and expects/projects that the number is going to get extended to as much as 1 million within the first year and a half. Greg Long who is the director of the board mentioned that this is destined to be a turning point in the recent history of the organization and that the whole dimension in expected to get changed in the longer run. He also mentioned that they are trying their best to improve their infrastructure so that it becomes able to deal with this large of an influx.

Renee Wilder who is the director of enterprise planning was the first person who raised the point that the system will have to be altered in order to make sure that they are able to sustain these alterations. There would have to be some extra efforts done by the communications team and the process will have to be sped up too.

That being said, all in all, it looks as if things are probably going to get a little hot to handle for the organization and here’s hoping that they are able to stay in the kitchen during the heat.

Details about the new military retirement system

military retirement system
(the-military-guide.com)

Soon we will be hearing from the Defense Department regarding the new military retirement system that’s set to be put in to effect from January the 1st of 2018. There are some intricate details regarding the system that are to be shared and everybody is looking forward to hearing something that they would like to hear.

Details about the new military retirement system:

During 2016, the armed personnel can expect the implementation of the financial education programs that are going to be spread across the whole force and will allow the service members that are eligible to get help regarding making decisions of selecting retirement packages. They can either get enrolled in a new retirement plan or just go with the rudimentary benefit that is given under the grandfather clause. Even though, as mentioned the plan will not be put in to practice before 2018, all the already in service troopers will be offered the traditional grandfather clause that is part of the basic 20 year retirement system.

If you entered the troops after January 1st 2006, then you will have the liberty to choose between the 401 (k) system and the offered one. This would definitely create an ambience of uncertainty as 2018 approaches near for the people that are in the middle of their services.

The troopers who came before 2006 and have served for over 12 years, will be given the chance to opt for a waiver but because this ensures few financial fruits, not many would like to make the switch.

There have been cases where the Pentagon has forcefully asked some of the troops to take upon retirement plans but with the new military retirement system and its launch, it’s expected that things are going to get a lot more open to choice of the military.

TSP Set to Provide Military with 401k Plans

Thrift savings plan

The Thrift savings plan has always been prone to modifications as it affects so many people from all over the country. It has seen many expansions been made to it over the years and recently the congress has proposed to expand TSP even further and now the military servants of the nation would be able to give their applications and apply for the retirement plans that they have always wanted to get their hands on. It’s expected that this would mean that the TSP database will see over hundred thousand new members to the least and could cost millions of dollars. That being said, the TSP board believes that they are pretty much up to the task and they think that they can inculcate the army without having to do any paradigm shifts.

The recommendation of the military compensation and modernization of retirement committee back in the start of 2015 to make the move for all the military officers from the obsolete pension system (that accounts for people who have served for at-least 20 years) to a more concrete one that would include the TSP and a pension has finally gotten some recognition. The Congress has moved in and made some legislative announcements in heed of this matter.

This new plan could be exactly the thing that the service members might have been after; this would allow them to make their contributions to the retirement funds go up to at-least 5 percent of their current pay. This may also include a 1 percent (give or take) base without regard of the levels of contribution.

This plan is definitely a step in the right direction and it should mean that around 800 thousand service officers would be introduced to the new system in the first year of its inception and from then on in, there could be an inflow of over a 100 thousand member every year.

Civilians To Replace Military Personnel In Support Labs

 

The government is always on its toes to try and take steps to make the country a far more ideal place for citizens of America to reside and also to save itself as many dollars as possible. In accordance with this, the government is thinking about replacing the military personnel of the department of defense with civilian employees in order to add support to jobs. It could also end up saving the government billions of dollars over a year. This analysis has been made by the Congressional Budget office. Specifically, if the government succeeds in converting around 80 thousand jobs that are currently held by the service members that are active in duty to positions that can be held by civilians can ensure that around 3.1 billion to 5.78 billion in annual savings be yielded.

Military personnel to be replaced by civilians:

During the year 2012, around 340 thousand service members that were actively performing duty worked in commercial support jobs. This included a variety of jobs from different positions including but not limited to finance, logistics, communication departments and health related services. The replacement ratio of the department would be an important factor in the estimation of the amount of savings the government is liable to make. Another talking point is that the savings can increase a notch higher if the defense department agrees to replace two citizens with 3 service members.

This analysis overall indicated that the federal government would yield a lot more savings than the defense department with respect to each individual from getting civilian employees to replace military personnel. This can lead to a need for recalculation and dispute but it’s hoped that if this plan is to be placed into effect, something fruitful for both parties is going to be able to get worked out.

Court Orders OPM to Restore Blind Vet’s FERS Disability Benefits

Court Orders OPM to Restore Blind Vet’s FERS Disability Benefits

benefitsA federal judge in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia has ordered the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) to restore the Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS) disability benefits for blind navy veteran Glenn Minney.

Minney had a distinguished career in the Navy, which spanned decades and included a Purple Heart Medal and other military honors. In April 2005, he was in Iraq when an explosion ended up making him almost completely blind. He was fully blinded in his right eye and mostly blind in the left eye, which qualified him for retirement and disability benefits.

OPM approved his FERS disability benefits in 2011 and started sending him payments. He eventually started working as a legislative liaison for the Blinded Veterans Association, a position that helped him earn $56,000 per year.

 

 Minney vs. OPM FERS Disability Benefits Termination Case 

Since his pay exceeded 80% of the salary at the position from which he retired as a federal employee, OPM sent him a letter saying that his FERS benefits had been terminated. He and his daughters were left without the health benefits that came with FERS, so he filed a lawsuit in the federal district court seeking an injunction on the FERS termination.

Thing is that OPM had sent him written notices about this. Minney was never able to read any of it, and claimed that one of the key notices had been sent to a wrong address. He was never verbally or in any other way notified that earning money in a non-federal position would result in his FERS being terminated.

Technically, you could say that OPM was within its rights in cutting off the FERS benefits for Minney. But it also shows the robotic nature of a vast bureaucracy that can’t be flexible to the needs of a severely disabled and much-decorated war veteran. So it’s refreshing to see a federal judge recognize and rectify this rather unpleasant nature of your typical federal agency.

Military Retirement Plan Move to Thrift Savings Plan Benefits Few

Thrift Savings Plan

Last month, the Defense Department submitted to Congress what they call a “blended defined benefit and defined contribution” military retirement system.

The proposed military retirement plan is a 401(k)-like Thrift Savings Plan (TSP). It begins with a 1 percent DoD contribution of a service member’s basic pay to the Thrift Savings Plan account from entry into service through separation or retirement, with vesting after two years of service.

The government contribution rises to up to 5 percent of basic pay after completion of four years of service and continuing through separation or retirement.

To entice quality service members to stay in the military, the plan has a Continuation Pay bonus that would be available to members with eight to 16 years of service, with each service setting the rate of Continuation Pay.

The plan reduces current military retirement benefits by 20 percent, but otherwise provides for an immediate annuity for military retirees after 20 years or more of service.

The Continuation Pay coupled with the immediate annuity should help the military maintain an all-volunteer force by enticing service members to stay during periods where a large number of military members transition to civilian life. Currently, only one in six service members make it to the 20-year mark to qualify for a pension.

The shift to a TSP plan was therefore inevitable and will provide benefits even to those who don’t stay that long. But one of the questions that this plan has raised is about who will manage it? The Thrift Savings Plan for non-military federal employees is managed by Blackrock, so it’s perhaps also inevitable that they would be the top contender for managing the military TSP retirement benefits plan.

Blackrock stands to gain a lot from this too. Apart from getting their hands on the federal retirement savings of the biggest bloc of federal employees, they would also receive the TSP account management fees under the new plan. This would be a big difference, given the fact that no fees are paid on managing the military’s current pension funds held in treasury bonds.

Other TSP Related Articles

You Are a Federal Employee Millionaire — Let’s See Why! by Gary Fouts

What Are Your TSP Options With the New Phased Retirement Program? by June Kirby

TSP Withdrawals and using IRAs correctly in TSP Rollovers

Understanding The Thrift Savings Plan, By Todd Carmack

Costs of Waiting to Buy Back Military Benefits – by June Kirby

Determining the True Cost of Waiting to Buy Back Military Benefits

by June Kirby

Military

If you are a federal employee who has also had military service, then a military “buy back” towards your federal retirement benefits may or may not make sense for you. In determining the benefits and the drawbacks of doing so, it is important to factor in the costs of buying back your military benefits.

The amount that you will need to pay in order to buy back your military time will depend upon several different criteria. These can include the following:

  • When your military service took place.
  • The amount that you were paid during your military service.
  • The amount of interest that accrued on that time.
  • Whether you are in the Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS) or the Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS).

Once you have come up with the amount that you were paid for each year of your military service, you should then multiply that amount by a particular percentage. This will differ, based on the retirement system that you are in. For instance, those who are in CSRS will multiply by 7 percent, and those who are in FERS will use 3 percent as their factors.

After this figure has been determined, interest will have to be added. The rate of interest will be different each year. Here, the longer that you wait in implementing a military buy back, the more interest you will be required to pay on top of your initial percentage of base pay.

Can You Buy Back Time Without Interest?

For some individuals, there may be an option of buying back time without the need to pay interest. This can occur if your military service took place prior to the beginning of your federal career.

Here, there is an interest free grace period of two years. The grace period will typically begin on the day that you were hired under the Federal Employees Retirement System or the Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS). In this case, the interest will be accrued once per year.

Factors to Consider

When determining whether or not to buy back military benefits, there are several factors to consider. In addition to the amount of interest, for instance, retirement eligibility should also be factored into the equation. For example, buying back military time could result in being able to retire sooner rather than later. However, because everyone’s situation is different, it is essential to ensure that all options are well thought out prior to moving forward with any final decision.

More June Kirby Articles

What Are Your TSP Options With the New Phased Retirement Program? by June Kirby

FEGLI – The Good, the Bad, and the Just Plain Ugly – by June Kirby

Could Taking Early FERS Retirement Cost You Your SRS Benefit? by June Kirby

Survivor Options for Married Federal Spouses – By June Kirby

 

Who is June Kirby?

June Kirby has well over a decade of experience serving as a Federal Employee Retirement Trainer and expert.  June Kirby has extensive knowledge in both TSP and other Federal Retirement benefits.  Ms. Kirby tirelessly travels the Country making herself available to Federal & Postal Employees, Federal Agencies, Unions and Organizations and partners with PSREducators.com (PSRE), and as one of the top providers of PSRE’s services, June Kirby continues to generously make herself available to hundreds of deserving Federal and Postal Employees each and every year by offering consultation on federal retirement benefits and TSP maximization strategies.

The High Cost of Waiting – Military Buy Backs by Kevin O’Leary

The High Cost of Waiting – “Buy Back” Military Time Early To Avoid High Interest Charges

By: Kevin O’Leary

militaryToday, there are a lot of federal employees who have also had previous military service. So, when considering buying back military time with regard to federal retirement, many employees are curious as to whether or not it could make sense for them to do so.

For example, if you do a military “buy back,” it can increase the number of years in service that are used in the calculation of your retirement pension annuity. And, the more years that you have, the higher the amount that your retirement pension income will typically be.

You should first estimate your retirement benefit both with and without your military time included so you can have an idea if the benefits will outweigh the costs.

How Much Will The Buy Back Cost You?

If you do opt to implement a buy back, though, there are some factors to consider. First and foremost, most people need to determine just how much it will “cost” them to do so. The answer to this will depend primarily on the following key factors.

First, it will be dependent on when exactly your service took place. In addition, the amount that you were paid will also play a role, as well the amount of interest that has accrued since that time. The other big determinant will be whether you are in the Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS) or in the Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS).

In determining the amount that you were paid, it helps if you have access to your military pay records. However, if you do not have copies of this information, submitting a copy of your DD-214 form and sending a request to your branch of the military’s pay center can also obtain this necessary information.

Once you have obtained the information that you require, you will need to multiply the pay number by a particular percentage – depending on which of the retirement systems that you are in. For example, if you are in FERS, multiply the amount of your military base pay by 3 percent. Alternatively, if you are in CSRS, multiply the amount by 7 percent.

Once this figure has been determined, interest will be added. For most people the principal amount is relatively small because it is a percentage of your military base which is usually small to begin with. However, interest over a 20 or 30 year Federal career can add up to several times the principal amount owed if you procrastinate.

 

More about Kevin O’Leary

Kevin O’Leary is a Federal retirement expert who works out of his Southern California office, but helps federal employee clients throughout the country.  Kevin O’Leary is a regular contributor to PSRetirement.com and Kevin O’Leary is highly sought after speaker and advisor on federal retirement benefits.

You can reach Kevin O’Leary

[email protected]

Gov EB Network

30300 Point Marina

Canyon Lake, CA 92587

 

Other Kevin O’Leary Articles

Federal Phased Retirement Program now available, by Kevin O’Leary

Married Fed’s with Fed Spouses Have More SSB Options, by Kevin O’Leary

Taking Early FERS Retirement Could Cost You Your SRS Benefit, by Kevin O’Leary

The Good, The Bad and the FEGLI, by Kevin O’Leary

 

Hiring Our Heroes

GovernmentLast year in Fort Belvoir, Virginia minutes away from the nation’s capital, a job fair was held to hire America’s Veterans.  This is a two-fold dynamic.  On the one hand, it is a good thing that special emphasis is being placed on hiring Veterans.  However, on the other hand, why would someone who has served his/her country have to go through the often unrewarded hassle of a job fair?

Job fairs are only valuable when the organizations have direct-hire authority and actually intend to fill positions most immediately and not use the data as part of their outreach efforts on paper.  I have been to a lot of job fairs as a hiring vendor.  For research purposes I have also used myself and members of my staff to act as job seekers.  The outcome as a hiring vendor reaped great results because I went there to hire and not buttress a report about hiring efforts.  I needed to hire a record number of Social Workers for the Government.  I had asked for and been given direct-hire authority of which I used every morsel of that authority to hire 300 Social Workers with a Master of Social Work (MSW) degree and a Licensed Graduate Social Work license (LGSW).  I hired qualified Social Workers on the spot.

It is as fresh in my mind as it was when it happened back in 1997-98.  I went to job fairs at The Catholic University of American that hosted other District of Columbia Universities (Howard, George Washington, Georgetown, American, Trinity, and the University of Maryland).    I traveled along the East Coast to the University of Maryland at Baltimore, Johns Hopkins, Pennsylvania, New York University, and Temple.  The Universities I could not get to in person were informed via other means.  In essence, our recruitment efforts spans the country into Puerto Rico.

It was nearing graduation time in the USA, the best time to recruit to fill positions with new energy and enthusiasm and pair them with seasoned personnel to make the learning curve seamless.   For many Veterans, there is no learning curve because they have received some of the best training possible via the military.  They have the unique skills of discipline, leadership and the ability to work cohesively in a team, all proven ingredients for success.  Veterans may have a slight adjustment to transitioning from the Military to the Civilian world, but that pales in comparison to the skills they bring to the table.

We hired more than 300 Social Workers in the 3 month period given and even beat that deliverable by 15 days.  Veterans have given their all to protect and defend America’s shores.  They need jobs, housing and health care.  They need to be taken care of. It is time to put all Americans back to work.  It is time to show our appreciation to Veterans and connect them with jobs now.

We’ll check back with Ft. Belvoir in a couple of months and see if we can get any statistics on how well the Hiring Our Heroes job fair did for our deserving Veterans.

P. S.  Always Remember to Share What You Know.

 

Recommended Articles

For Postal Employees – LiteBlue and the TSP

Federal Retirement Benefit Analysis

The Thrift Savings Plan (TSP)

Is The Pension Survivor Benefit Best For You?  by Todd Carmack

A Little-Known Opportunity Can Increase Your Retirement Income.  by Mark Sprague

Is There an Asset Ceiling for the VA Benefit?  by Tom Rutter

President Obama Nominates Bob McDonald Secretary of the VA

Veterans AffairsPresident Barack Obama will nominate Bob McDonald as the new Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).  Mr. McDonald is the former CEO of Procter and Gamble and a Vet.  He is a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and served in the Army for five years.  Mr. McDonald is also a businessman with a lot of executive experience under his belt.  He is esteemed like Dr. Cosgrove of the Cleveland Clinic, but it appears that the President wanted to move away from appointing another decorated general, a doctor or a politician.  Nevertheless, the nomination remains in the arena of males who have served in the military.

It is amazing a workforce as large as the Federal Government seems to only be able to identify major glitches in management responsibility after a crisis or a scandal.  There is something called proactive management, the anticipation of problems and the immediacy of solving those problems before they become national headline negative news.  It serves no purpose to write up a 200 page report of the ills at the VA after the dams have burst and a tsunami of water is running in the streets.  Reports that an internal audit was completed in May by VA that revealed approximately 1,700 veterans were at-risk of falling through the scheduling cracks in a Phoenix facility because they were no where on the wait list.   This makes good press to underscore what a poor job the VA is doing.

The question is, however, does it help the veterans to talk about these dynamics after the fact.  Proper and appropriate management means periodic audits, consistent monitoring and evaluation to make certain the pistons are properly firing.  In the world of reasonable thinking, you don’t take the car to have the oil changed, after it has blown up on the highway.  Federal workers make up the largest civilian workforce in the world.  These individuals perform some pretty significant work to keep the nation moving forward.

It matters not how decorated or esteemed any appointment to a position is if the understanding is not there to be proactive from the top to the bottom.  Good leaders never have to tell anybody that they are in charge, their actions simply demonstrate that.  When we listen to our Vets not being taken care of, that sentiment should resonate with the heads of every agency within the Federal Government to begin doing an inventory of the tasks involved in their mission.

Leaders are often imbued with writing and making lofty statements that sound good.  Secretary Shinseki, former Secretary of the VA, along with his senior staff put beautiful words on paper:  being people-centric, results-driven, and forward-looking.  There were those 16 initiatives including eliminating veteran homelessness and transforming health care delivery through health informatics.  The VA is being whipped because they are tasked with providing very important services to veterans and their families, real life and death provisions unique to that agency.  The VA has very complex and monumental responsibilities to take care of those who defend the nation.  The tasks of the VA can be accomplished, just as the tasks of every federal agency. However, some hard, consistent work is required by not just a few people but all the people involved in the business of each individual agency.

The Federal Government must examine employing the technology of the CLOUD or some similar technology.  The work of the Federal Government, particularly for an agency like the VA, is too complex and time sensitive for one entity not to know what another is doing.  Collaboration and corroboration must take place with integrity to ensure customers are getting even more than the service they expect.

P. S.  Always Remember to Share What You Know.

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Taking Care of Vets and Their Families

Taking Care of VetsThe Department of Veterans Affairs has been a headliner in the news for a few months now.  It appears from all reports that the second largest civilian agency in the Federal Government is not getting a good report card when it comes to taking care of Vets.  The Department of Veteran Affairs has a most noble mission to care for those who defend the nation.  Abraham Lincoln said it best  – “…to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow, and his orphan….”  What more can be asked of a human being than to lay down his life for his country.

The Department of Veteran Affairs has grown by leaps and bounds in terms of quantity and capacity since its inception.  When the Plymouth colonists fought against the Pequot Indians back in 1936, the Pilgrims passed a law stating that disabled soldiers would be taken care of by the colony.  Then in 1776, the Continental Congress decided that offering pensions to disabled soldiers would be an enlistment incentive.  States and communities took care of disabled soldiers when the country was first forming.  In 1811, the first medical facility for veterans was authorized by the Federal Government.  The veterans assistance program was expanded during the 19th century to encompass benefits and pensions for veterans and their families.

At the end of the Civil War a number of State run veteran homes began to crop up.  Veteran homes provided treatment for all injuries and diseases whether service related or not.   When the United States entered World War I in 1917, the Congress established a new system of veteran benefits which included Veteran insurance programs for service persons and veterans, vocational rehabilitation for the disabled and disability compensation.  The Veterans Bureau, the National home for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers and the Bureau of Pensions of the Interior Department administered the various benefits to veterans during 1920; making three different federal agencies responsible for providing benefits to veterans.

It was not until the 1930s that Congress authorized the President to established the Veterans Administration which consolidated all government programs impacting services to veterans.  The three separate agencies became bureaus within the Veterans Administration.  Brigadier General Frank T. Hines was named the first administrator of Veteran Affairs.  He remained in that post until 1945 just at the close of World War II.  The VA grew from 54 hospitals in 1930 to 152 hospitals, 800 community-based clinics, 126 nursing home care units and 35 domiciliaries.

World War II dramatically increased the number of veterans, including those with disabilities.  The increase in the needs of veterans also broadened the number of benefits available to them.  The GI Bill signed into law in 1944 provided veterans with and opportunity to receive an education they had only imagined.  Getting an education, receiving a college degree enabled veterans to create a better life for their families because of greater opportunities in the job market.

Although the Department of Veteran Affairs has little or no resemblance to the Pilgrim’s idea of taking care of disabled veterans in 1636, the mission remains the same.  This noble mission is a work in progress since veterans from around the country are saying to the nation – “you are not doing enough to take care of us.”   President Obama appointed Secretary Eric K. Shinseki in 2008 to transform the second largest civilian agency in the federal government into a high-performing, strategic entity poised to take better care of our Vets.  It is the consensus of many Vets and their families that it didn’t happen.

President Obama, like his predecessors, has appointed persons of high-caliber to the post of Secretary of Veterans Affairs.  Prior to 1989, the VA Secretary was not a cabinet-level position.  President George H. W. Bush appointed two Secretaries to the post from 1989 to 1993.  President Bill Clinton appointed four Secretaries from 1993 to 2001, followed by President George W. Bush’s appointment of four Secretaries from 2001 to 2009.  President Barack Obama has appointed two Secretaries from 2009 to present, to include acting Secretary Sloan Gibson who replaced Secretary Shinseki.

There is news that President Obama is considering Dr. Delos “Tony” Cosgrove as the next Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs.  Dr. Cosgrove is a Vet and a heart surgeon of renown.  He is also the CEO of the famed Cleveland Clinic and is reported to have made a number of notable achievements.  He has something in common with the past twelve Secretaries.  He is, of course male, a Vet and imminently qualified for the job, bringing a high-degree of management success from the acclaimed Cleveland Clinic.  Although the Cleveland Clinic is as distinctly different from the Department of Veterans Affairs as night is to day,  the connecting dynamic is that people come to each institution seeking quality medical care.  They also come to the VA seeking benefits from disability to laying the Vet at his/her final resting place.  No other organization is going to have the same complex mission as the VA, it is unique.  It was formed to provide for Vets and their families.

Each President has had the best interest of Vets and their families at heart when they appointed fine men to head up the Department of Veteran Affairs, but the veterans are still in need of so much.  Every Secretary who has held the post had one thing in common – they were Veterans and male.   One does not have to be a Vet to understand the needs of veterans and their families.  Hospitals many years ago decided to move away from hiring physicians as CEOs of hospitals.  Instead they began recruiting MBAs with the knowledge of operating businesses to lead hospital operations.  Many physicians realizing they needed something else in order to be more effective business leaders, combined their MD degrees with MBAs and MPAs.

Being a good and forward thinking strategists sometimes demands changing course.  At least twelve men who were Vets have been Secretaries of the VA. Why not a woman who has the knowledge, skills and compassion to understand what Vets and their families need and make sure they get it?  These Vets in many cases have made the ultimate sacrifice to their country, and we are obligated to give them what they need.  The woman does not have to be a Vet, but if she is give her an opportunity to serve her country, just like the twelve men who served their country and then became Secretary of the Department of Veteran Affairs, serving their country once more.

Vets serve in the military and many transition to the Federal Government looking for opportunities to better support their families.  One day they, like the rest of the federal workforce, will retire.  But long before that, it might be time to change course and get about the business of doing what President Lincoln promised – “to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow, and his orphan…”

P.S.  Always Remember to Share What You Know.

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Veterans Benefits for Women

Women Veterans Benefits

veterans benefitsObviously both Men and Women receive Veterans Benefits. Aren’t we extraordinarily proud of our women veterans and women in uniform.  The military was once thought of a place for men.  Veterans were men.  Wounded warriors were men.  The soldiers returning from wars were men.  Now the paradigm has shifted 180 degrees.  Women are soldiers.  Women are Veterans.  Being the forward thinking human being that I am, it still gives me pause to see women who have lost their limbs in war.  Then I snap out of the daze of yesterday and I say, these are warriors, these are patriots, these are defenders of our nation’s borders – they represent today’s military and I am proud of them.

In reality women have always served in the military in some capacity or the other.  The difference today is that they are much more visible.  They are capable and focused and recognized for their talents and skills.  They are leaders who are as committed to safeguarding their country and its citizens as the next soldier.

Because the military has been traditionally geared towards men, many facilities and services within the VA have had to be expanded.  Comprehensive health services are available to Women Vets from primary care, mental health services, to reproductive treatment.  Maternity care is covered and treatment options include OB/GYNs, Certified Nurse Midwives, and Family Practitioners.

The VA also covers the cost of care of newborns of Veteran women for a period of seven days after birth.  There are also limited services for infertility assessment and evaluation.  The military has changed and women have been instrumental in bringing about a change that demonstrates the fortitude of women committed to serving the nation amid great sacrifice.

HAIL TO THE WOMEN – OUR HONORED VETERANS

P.S. Always Remember to Share What You Know.

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Veterans Benefits Basic Requirements

Veterans Benefits Reqirements

veterans benefitsIn order to qualify for basic veterans benefits via the VA one must have served in the active military, naval or air service and was honorably discharged.  If called to active duty for reasons other than purely training, both National Guard and Reservist members may also qualify for VA health benefits given they completed the full term for which they were summoned or ordered to active duty.

Veterans must have served 24 continuous months or the full term for which they enlisted in order to qualify for health benefits if the enlistment occurred after September 7, 1980 or came on active duty after October 16, 1981.

The 24 month minimum requirement may not be applicable if the Veteran was discharged due to a hardship, a disability or an aggravation of the disability in the line of duty or as a result of an early out.

To receive all the benefits and information the VA has to offer, most Veterans must enroll in the VA Health Care System.  Veterans can enroll online at VA.gov or via phone (877)-222-8387.

P. S.  Always Remember to Share What You Know.

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