|02-20-2007, 06:38 AM||#1 (permalink)|
Plan Lowers Reserve Retirement Age
For the third time in as many years, Sen. Saxby Chambliss (D-Ga.) has introduced legislation that would lower the retirement age for National Guard and Reserve service members who serve extended active-duty tours.
At a news conference Monday at his Marietta office, Chambliss said this year's version of an amendment to the 2008 Defense Authorization Bill has been pared down from previous years.
"We think the time is right this year," Chambliss said, pointing out that in previous years it was shot down by those opposed to the cost, estimated at $400 million over the first five years.
But now, he said, four years after the war in Iraq began, it has become more apparent to Democrats and Republicans in Congress that Citizen-Soldiers who are more frequently being mobilized for duty in Iraq and Afghanistan and for homeland security are in need of better retirement benefits.
"The way we are using the Guard and Reserve has fundamentally changed over the last 15 years," said Chambliss, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee.
The amendment calls for a reduction in the age for National Guard and Reserve members to retire. The current retirement age is 60. The proposed change calls for the retirement age to be lowered by three months for every 90 days on active duty in support of the war effort.
That support of the war effort would include operations overseas as well as within the continental United States.
The maximum reduction for retirement would be to age 60.
Chambliss said active-duty members of the military get better benefits than Guard and Reserve troops, especially on quality of life issues.
The pace of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have blurred the distinction between part-time and full-time military personnel, said Maj. Gen. David Poythress, commander of the Georgia National Guard.
Approximately 500,000 people are affected by the bill, which would be retroactive to Sept. 11, 2001.
Poythress said if the legislation is passed, it would not have an effect on recruiting as much as on retention of midcareer Guard and Reserve members who are trying to decide whether to get out or stay in and retire after 20 years.
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