Captains and Majors: Here’s Your Pink Slip

soldier-on-ledgeEven though I’ve been tracking the Army drawdown as part of my role here at the Association, it still came as a shock when I realized that my family would be affected. I was at work one day when I read an announcement regarding the Captain/Major Involuntary Separation Boards scheduled for this spring. I emailed my husband to ask if anyone we knew was affected. Thirty seconds later the phone rang. It was my husband. “Karen,” he said, “That’s us. My year group is going before the board.”

We remain a Nation at war.

I think my disconnect stems from the fact that our Army community is still so immersed in the war. One of our friends just returned from his fifth deployment. After spending over 5 years in Iraq and Afghanistan, he’ll be going before the board in April. Another is deploying to Afghanistan this spring. His wife was in tears at his promotion ceremony as guests discussed his impending departure. Just a few weeks ago, my own husband came home and informed me that his group had been hit with several WIAS (Worldwide Individual Augmentation System) taskers, meaning another potential deployment for him.

On some level I understood a drawdown was inevitable, but I guess I never expected to be simultaneously worried about a deployment to Afghanistan and a pink slip because my husband’s service is no longer needed.

One of my biggest concerns is how we are going to continue to meet the challenges of Army life with this additional level of uncertainty. This is not the sort of job you can do with one foot out the door. My husband’s Army career, including 3 deployments and 5 PCS moves, has required 100% commitment not only from him, but from our entire family. It is hard for me to imagine tackling similar challenges in the future while also preparing for the possibility of being shown the door.

After adjusting to the shock, I did what I always do when I’m anxious. I kicked into high research gear. I compiled all the information that we’ve received and briefed our volunteers at Fort Leavenworth, a post with a high population of majors attending Command and General Staff College (CGSC.)

Here is what we know:

  • Almost 19,000 Army Captains and Majors will be screened for separation and early retirement boards this spring. The boards could select up to 20% (3,800) of the considered population for involuntary separation.
  • Officers subject to these boards are Army Competitive Category Captains in year groups 2006, 2007, and 2008 and Majors in year groups 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, and 2003.
  • The Officer Separation Board (OSB) will screen officers with fewer than 18 years of active federal service (AFS). The Enhanced Selective Early Retirement Board (E-SERB) will screen officers with 18 or more years AFS.
  • Officers selected for separation by the E-SERB will be allowed to serve their 20 years, earning them full retirement benefits.
  • Those selected for separation by the OSB are eligible for involuntary separation pay, provided they have at least 6 years AFS.
  • Selected officers with at least 15 years AFS on the date of their separation are also eligible to request consideration for early retirement under the Temporary Early Retirement Authority (TERA). It will be the officer’s choice to select separation pay or TERA. Please note TERA is discretionary, not an entitlement.
  • The boards convene in April/May of 2014.
  • Decisions are expected to be released in August 2014.
  • There will be no “re-look” or “standby” boards, and a very limited appeals process.
  • Actual separation will occur no earlier than the 1st day of the 9th month following release of the boards’ results (e.g., if the results are released in August 2014, separation will occur in May 2015)
  • Officers in the Integrated Disability Evaluation System (IDES) will be considered by the boards. If selected, the separation date will be determined on a case by case basis.
  • Officers with non-statutory Active Duty Service Obligations (ADSOs) incurred for military schooling, PCS, etc. will be considered by the board. If selected for separation, the non-statutory ADSO will be waived.
  • Officers with statutory ADSOs (e.g., Tuition Assistance, Advanced Civil Schooling, Critical Skills Retention Bonus) will be considered by the board. If selected for separation, the ADSO will be waived and the officer will not be required to repay any unearned portion of the pay or benefit received. As a condition of receiving separation pay, officers who have a statutory ADSO waived must serve in the Ready Reserve for three years.
  • Selection for separation will have no impact on GI Bill benefits for the officer’s own use. In addition, members who transferred benefits to dependents prior to selection will retain their transfer and not face recoupment if they agree to serve until the mandatory separation date.

Captains and Majors in the affected year groups are encouraged to have their photos updated and to scrub their board files. They should receive guidance from their chain of command in terms of reviewing their official record and preparing it for the board.

Is your family concerned about involuntary separation and drawdowns? Please share your questions and concerns.

karen-rPosted by Karen Ruedisueli, Government Relations Deputy Director

18 responses to “Captains and Majors: Here’s Your Pink Slip

  1. Thank you for this article. Nice research. I had no idea how deeply this ran into the ranks. Gutting our military while pursuing a foreign policy via which we will no doubt stumble haphazardly into more unplanned conflicts….not an adult plan.

  2. Thank you for the break down of the facts in simple terms. Very helpful to those in these years groups that are getting mixed messages or no information at all. We received the news during deployment number four and during the whole “we just cut your COLA” mess. Felt like a real poop sandwich at the time.

  3. I totally feel your pain, Karen. The Air Force has been doing the same thing since my husband joined in 2004. He actually had to educate the officers about the program he himself would be subjected to as well. The Air Force RIFs gutted some career fields and have created some less than ideal situations in the current O3/O4 pools. I think we’ve seen 3 or 4 during his career that impacted him. It’s time for families to prepare themselves and their finances and for both the servicemember and her or his spouse to prep for plan B ASAP.

  4. There is an aspect that isn’t talked about. The affects on those getting ready to PCS. Because the Branches have received little guidance, those marked as at risk are suffering from being sent to career assignments that do not help or even hurt their career path. The hardship for those soldiers are the fact that if they don’t get picked by the board their career and future promotions are put at risk. It’s a matter of shooting the horse simply because he is in danger. We have been experiencing this. Our only saving grace is a leadership willing to fight the good fight for us. It’s all just one more stressor on families feeling way to many of them!

  5. Do you know why this is not affecting year groups 2004 and 2005?

  6. can officers opt out early…reducing the number hat has to be cut? Our son is in this captain group…such pressure on someone that signed up and wants a career.. My prayers are with all families in this process. seems like they could cut in other areas. The capt and majors are a huge leaders group that hru experience lead. Will thr jobs go the 1st LT…less experience?

  7. This occurred to me this past year, 21 years of combined service, 17 years and some change, active, all the right jobs, very few of the right bosses (Most needed to be fired, retired, or placed in Leavenworth), and six combat tours. Forced to retire out of Germany. Forced to retire during my son’s senior year. Plagued by administrative mistakes impacting moneys owed, COLA/BAH conversion during terminal leave was late, retirement pay was late, sequestration impacted hiring date for contractor job, a contractor pay reduction while in Afghanistan, another contractor cut on the horizon.

    What they don’t tell you is you only have 4 to 6 months to conduct your ACAP, what they don’t tell you is your VA claim even though it is suppose to be Benefits at Discharge (BDD), it isn’t and will probably take 6 months after discharge to receive your VA compensation, what they do tell you is they will get around to fixing you retirement pay but due to the holidays they at DFAS got behind.

    I joined the Army at 17 years old, was commissioned an officer at 20 years old, my entire adult life has been spent in service to the military, our country, our constitution, and even now as a contractor, I am doing exactly the same thing. The military drawdown is a complete farce. The way I see it, if you want to draw down the military and fix it in the process, retire all those with over 25 years of Active Federal Service, retire those who only have one combat tour, retire those who have less than a 80% on their 360 evaluations, retire those who have been investigated by IG, EO, or congressionally. This would eliminate the true problem in the military. Unfortunately, this will not be done though, too many in the group who make these decisions fall into the criteria just listed and they are promoting and retaining Officers just like them.

    Personally looking at it, I am kind of glad, I will not be tainted by these worthless individuals, so when a real war does occur, and it will, and I am recalled to fix it, as has occurred since the military was first formed. I can say with an honest heart, I never compromised my integrity nor my commitment to my subordinates and mission success to the whims of a narcissist who spent their time appeasing those who for all intensive purposes are better suited to ask me if “I want fries with my order” or should be breaking big rocks into small rocks.

    The end result and my prediction is that this drawdown will cause those who are being asked to leave so their compliant and conforming peers can continue to be compliant and worthlessness, will seek public office and expose the real problems in the military. I know if I at any point have the opportunity to make things right, I will legally and have my OERs as a starting point on who needs to be called to the carpet before a congressional committee. I have a feeling many others will feel and do the same thing.

  8. An interesting fact that goes along with this is that if you are a captain in year group 2004 or 2005 you will not be going through this board, however if you are not selected to be promoted this year you will be shown the door as well. As far as I know you wont be given the separation pay either.

  9. I am glad te Army is doing this. For too long the Army promoted without much regard for talent. The ranks will be hopefully cleansed of overweight, underperormance, legal issues, etc. Your commander should have counseled those under the microscope with how possible (low, medium, or high) a chance you are to be or not to be retained. If not contact your branch manager

  10. So you will have Captains and Majors with over 10 years of time committed to serving in active duty and multiple deployments now being let go with no retirement benefits and yet if some of them had been in a couple years more they would have hit the 15 year mark and potentially received some sort of early retirement benefit. That is a travesty and should be on the front page of the news networks. Is the commander and chief concerned about this?

  11. The Air Force is running the same type boards for the same year groups. For the third time!

  12. Affected Officer

    The cuts are “up to 20%”. We have to trust that those not asked to continue will be those we don’t want among our ranks anyway. If you can’t trust the organization we work in to do this, why would you want to continue in that organization anyway?

  13. My husband is up for the board next year. It is completely terrifying knowing that everything my husband has worked so hard to achieve could be gone just like that based in a board decision. He joined cause it was his dream to serve and loves what he does and had planned on going career. We now have to wait till this board is over to make any real life plans. It’s so frustrating and scary at the same time

  14. My son is a captain serving his third deployment. He became a captain on 30 January, 2009. Is the Army using the calendar year or military fiscal year to determine these cuts? Is the January, 2009 date included in the 2008 year? Thanks.

  15. Roxane, the year groups are determined by date of commissioning. For example, my husband was commissioned in 1991. Therefore, he is referred to as “year group ’91′. For officers who joined the military directly out of college, it is usually the year they graduated. If your son spent 4 years as a Lt. then he would be year group 2004. Thanks for being a military mom! Good job.

  16. The HRC FAQ says they expect notifications to be sent out in June. So the earliest separations dates would be in March.

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