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Reserve Retirement— Illuminating Some Gray Areas

August 6, 2002

The U.S. Army’s increasing reliance upon reserve component soldiers demands a review of the reserve retirement system. Today, soldiers in the active force who complete 20 years or more of service and choose to retire begin to draw their retirement pay immediately, regardless of age. However, soldiers who complete at least 20 years of duty as an Army reservist (in the Army National Guard or Army Reserve) must wait until age 60 to receive their retirement pay. As a result, many reserve soldiers complete the required time in service but are forced to wait many years before they collect a single dollar of their Army retirement income. These soldiers are known as “gray area retirees.” This system, in effect since the end of World War II, needs reform.