Retired Soldier Council promotes SFL mindset
Members of the 2016 Chief of Staff, Army Retired Soldier Council (From L to R, front row): CSM (Ret) Divina Bobb, CW5 (Ret) Robert Huffman, SMA (Ret) Kenneth Preston, LTG (Ret) James Lovelace, CSM (Ret) Saundra Matlock-Williams, CSM (Ret) William Grant; (middle row) CSM (Ret) Joel Jenkins, LTC (Ret) David Fulton, COL (Ret) Gerald Thompson, COL(Ret) Michael Molosso, CSM (Ret) Tommy Williams, CSM (Ret) Albert McFarland; (back row) COL (Ret) Norris Posehn, COL (Ret) Michael Zang. Photo by Army Multimedia & Visual Information Directorate.
The Soldier for Life mindset was the main focus of the Army Chief of Staff’s Retired Soldier Council during their recent annual meeting at the Pentagon. From April 18 to 22, the Council discussed the retired community’s desires and concerns with 15 of the Department of Defense’s senior leaders, including Acting Secretary of the Army Patrick J. Murphy, Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Milley, and Sgt. Maj. of the Army Daniel A. Dailey.
The Council saw the Soldier for Life mindset as the means to link members of the retired military community who still have a strong desire to serve with the Army’s need to bridge the civil-military divide. Council members cited misunderstandings caused by a lack of personal interaction between civilians and military as the source of the civil-military divide. Members saw the divide widening as older veterans pass away and fewer Americans serve in the military or meet Service members during their daily lives.
Acting Secretary Murphy discussed this communications gap when he spoke to the Council saying, “You’re still part of the Army team, but that comes with responsibility. I need you to stop in the local recruiting office and help.” He urged Retired Soldiers to stay engaged with the Army and asked for their email addresses, so he can communicate with them directly.
During their meeting, the Council discussed Army-level issues nominated by Army installation retiree councils. Before the meeting, Council members reviewed recommendations from Department of the Army and Department of Defense policy experts. They discussed many of these recommendations with the senior leaders who came to speak to them.
The Council compiled its recommendations to Gen. Milley in its final report that addresses 11 issues involving health care, 11 related to other benefits and 12 concerning retirement services or Army communications with the retired community.
Addressing one of the top concerns, the Council report said,
There continues to be various initiatives that, if enacted, would significantly contribute to the breaking of trust between the Army and the Retired Soldier. The Retired Soldier places greater value on their earned
medical benefits than any other; however, it is these benefits that are most often the target for budget cuts. This Council understands the need to balance the increasing cost of healthcare and the promises made to our Retired Soldier population. The continuing ‘nickel and dime’ increases in TRICARE fees have a significant impact on the Retired Soldier…especially to the retired Staff Sergeants and Sergeants First Class.
All of the Council’s recommendations can be found in their 42-page report on the Council’s webpage at https://soldierforlife.army.mil/retirement/retireecouncil.
The members of the Retired Soldier Council represent more than 950,000 Retired Soldiers and 243,000 surviving spouses in the United States and 124 other countries. They are nominated by the Army installation or Army Service Component Command retiree councils on which they serve. The Council Co-Chairs select new members each year to fill vacancies on the 14-member Council. New members are approved by the CSA to serve four-year terms and are recalled to active duty annually for the Council’s week-long meeting.
By Mark E. Overberg, Deputy Chief, Army Retirement Services