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


Add yours
  1. 1
    Liz Morningstar

    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. 3

    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. 4
    Adrianna Domingos-Lupher

    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. 5

    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. 8

    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?

  6. 9

    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.

    • 10

      This drawdown is affecting our family we just found out. My husband who just hit 19 years and who is a prior enlisted officer has been selected. We weren’t looking at separating anytime soon. We are also expecting our first child this fall. It’s clearly not based on OER’s or any of the like because he has exceled past his peers his entire military career both on the officer and enlisted sides. On his forced retirement date he will be 8 months short of the requirement to retire as an officer. As a result he will be retired as an E-7, his last highest enlisted rank held and be given the retirement pay to go along with it $1200 less than what we thought he would be getting as a CPT. He has rightfully earned his rank, served honorably and has had a glowing career since he enlisted at 17. Any advice or avenues we might be able to take here would be appreciated. As a wife I know I have to stay in my lane as to not impede his efforts with the Army but I want to help him achieve what is his and not sit sideline and watch it taken away, degrade the last seven years of service and act like he is being punished for becoming an officer when he switched because they need volunteers. OH and he was told “well you can stay in to 26 years if you return to an E-7”. SERIOUSLY?! How insulting! I’m past disappointed in a system we have spent our entire lives sacrificing for, believing in and trusting. Any advice, any guidance, I’ll take it.

      • 11

        I’m sorry to hear that you are one of the affected families. My husband is still waiting for the majors to be notified. Even though your husband won’t be retiring as an officer, you still should be receiving his retirement pay based upon his last three years. The only difference will be on his retirement ID it will reflect his last enlisted rank. Hope that helps!

      • 12
        Philip Yi

        Join the reserve and do one year active duty/volunteer to mobilize. Reserve is still federal troop. Not national guard. You can definitely make it. I did 2 year trainer and 1 year translator as mobilized army reserve officer under title 10 orders.

      • 14
        William Moore

        Stacy, I apologize but I just found this blog. I am a CPT with over 16 years of service and I will be 5 months away from my 8 yr mark when I have to et out. I at Fort Bragg, and myself and others are taking on a campaign against this crap. We are now being told that we have to resign our commission then apply for an enlisted retirement. YEA right not happening. Ok advice Please contact your congress person or Senator. I have contacted mine for VA., Congressmen Hurt. I also contacted Senator McCain’s office. Both are very concerned about this. They are taking this situation to legislation. Congressman Hurt’s office contacted me again this week to ask if they can take this to legislation. It is best to contact the representative’s office, by phone is best, to get a “Privacy Act Consent” form. Then they will move your issue up through the pentagon, then HRC. If you need to call Congressmen Hurt of VA and see if you can be on their list. The office asked if I knew of anyone form VA, because they now know this is not an isolated incident. The retirement pay should be High-3. This was also confirmed by DFAS. I hope this helps

      • 15
        Enrico Tamez

        I just got out….. I suggest your husband complain of chest pain, passing out or something grave….and check into a U.S. Army hospital. Trust-me on this if he is over 40 the Army docs will keep him for 3 days and will check everything…. Then ask for a sleep study…. bottom line get the sleep study done so he can get diagnosed with sleep apnea….Most people in their 40’s have some form of sleep disorder…. This way he can qualify for a larger disability claim. Plus, when they check him out during his 3 day stay they may find other issues he can add to his disability claim….

        Mr. Public Relations
        MAJ, AD

  7. 17
    Scott Deb Winterton

    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.

    • 18

      The officers from these year groups will be above the zone for 2005 year group so if they do not get promoted to Major they will get seven months to leave the Army and will you get separation pay

  8. 19

    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

  9. 20

    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?

      • 24
        Bill Moore

        Tanya, There are MANY officer out there going through this including ME!. The only response from Congress or Senators was form Congressman Robert Hurt of VA. My/OUR issue has gone up to the Dc office to fight to change for legislation. I contacted the office 2 weeks ago, and they would be happy to help ANYONE from any state. feel free to call them. You need to call them. The contact is Shani Shorter, number 434-791-2596. ass it on.

      • 26
        Bill Moore

        Tanya, Stacey and all other Officer out there. Listen please don’t fret. Myself Bill Moore, and Tawanna mentioned in the article reached out to David Phillips to not necessarily to talk about being cut. It was to discuss the our retirement pay, the “High-3”. David wrote a great article, but we did not stop there. We went o to JAG. I went on the advice of my wife and my command because the Army wants us to resign our commission then apply for retirement as an enlisted because we don’t have 8 years as an officer. I myself will be 5 months short of the 8 year mark, and Tawanna 6 months This is not right, our retirement plan says “High-3”. I have asked any officer I know from Major to COL, would you resign your commission, the reply is always heck no, so they said keep fighting this, Bill. Everyone knows of the “High-3”. We even informed our PAO that were going to speak to New York Times, as protocol requires. They were also not aware as to what was happening to officer retirement.
        Here is the point I want to make. A CPT from JAG wrote a memorandum so significant that the big JAG said we want to read it. It went through our Corps JAG to higher. Within 2-3 days big JAG said this isn’t right we are going to fix it. I was informed this week please wait 3 weeks things are going to change. I am sorry I was not told more than that, but I was informed IT IS good news. This is all I can tell you. Also my Congressmen Robert Hurt IS STILL working our issue. Please pass this on and DO NOT resign your commission. This was legal advise to me. Please keep the faith.
        Pass this info too all officers you know in this situation. My wife has endured a lot and she is also concerned. If you have questions please email me personally, also please ack that you received this information.

    • 28
      Philip Yi

      Service comes from our hearts. Money is not everything.

      Be very very resilient. Join the army reserves and bide your time to apply for mobilization. IRR is the best option. 8th army in Korea has 1 year tours all day long.

      Or crack a book and earn a masters in environmental science or discipline the army offers direct commissions with no age limit.

      Work hard and smart. Army is all about supply and demand. Make them an offer they cannot refuse. I do not see anything wrong retiring as enlisted either, being Mustang myself.

  10. 30
    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?

  11. 31

    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

  12. 32
    Roxane Scaife

    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.

  13. 33
    ms hoppmann

    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.

  14. 35
    CPT's Spouse

    I believe (at least in the Army Competitive Category) any affected officers were notified a few months ago. My husband is an year group ’06 CPT but isn’t being looked at for separation. We have a friend, though, who is being looked at and he was told in December.

  15. 37

    I wasn’t tracking the release date being August 14. I thought it was June of 14. Where is that info posted? Also, the MILPER is vague on how officers will be notified. In the mean time, some of us are entering command with the potential of being yanked if selected by OSB/eSERB.

  16. 39

    On top of that my landlord decided that since there’s a possibility that I maybe separated and they don’t want to deal with the military clause , he won’t allow us to renew our lease.

  17. 44
    Andrew Baalman

    My uncle; Russell Richardson; is still in the Army; not sure where he is, but I asked my aunt and she hasn’t got back to me yet on Facebook on whether or not he will be affected by this. My mom wanted me to find more information on what is going on and I think I’ve found it thanks to you and this site. He’s either Regular Army or Reserves from Kansas.

    • 45
      Andrew Baalman

      I just found out from my aunt, My uncle is in the National Guard and has 2 years till he retires; I’m guessing National Guard isn’t being affected by this. I hope they won’t be.

  18. 46
    bonnie black

    With this being the longest War in History and uptick in hiring for the ‘surge’ I am wondering what information was given to soldiers who enlisted regarding benefits of tours of duty, ‘separation/lay-off/end of service required’, minimum time served to receive ‘retirement’. The Press has treated this with ‘shock’, even though every knows this is not a FULL time Employment opportunity for everyone.. God Bless and we are Grateful to all service people.

  19. 47
    Anita Baalman

    Is this “letting go” of our Leaders have anything to do with a questionnaire: Would you shoot an American citizen on command, would you be willing to contain Americans, if Marshall Law is ordered by our President, and your family is involved or you know it is unconstitutional?
    The questions would be more suitable I’m sure. There has to be reason for gutting our Military.

    • 48

      What questionnaire? I am active Army and I have never been asked to fill out nor asked any of your questions directly. The reason the military is decreaseing it numbers is to cut costs due to the defense budget being affected by sequestration. This issue is not because of a mythical Marshall law paranoia. This blog is for professional comments regarding a very serious topic that affect my sister and brother in arms and I. Please understand that your comments are off based and completely unnecessary.

  20. 49
    shannon j

    Have the notifications for MAJs begun? We had heard the results would be published in August and then heard “early July.” Early July and mid-July have come and gone. Does anyone know when the results will be delivered to individuals or published in August?

  21. 51

    I came down on the OSB list. I was the perfect candidate in the Army’s mind. I have 14 years of service, 7 PCS moves, 6 deployments, and numerous schools that 11A’s get. The reason I got cut (at least in my BDE CDR’s mind) was because I got COM’s on my OERs. I was enlisted for 8 years and have been an officer for 6 years. With just 6 years left before I was eligible for retirement and no more wars to fight I got the “thanks for not dying but you are no longer needed”. This leaves a bitter taste in my mouth. I never got a GOMOR, LOC, Art. 15, or anything negative in my career. I volunteered for two deployments that I did not have to go on but decided to leave my family to be with my soldiers. Guess that isn’t what today’s Army is looking for. Maybe if I was a gay deserter I would have had a more successful career

    • 53

      what was the final outcome of the separation. Did the Army make and accommodation for you having less than 8 years commissioned service? were you allowed to retire or were you stuck this the OSB? im in the same boat this go around 11.5 commissioned and 6.5 officer.

  22. 54

    Based on the cuts made to Captains, it seems they are targeting prior-enlisted with no regard to ability. It’s all about money. These are the folks who cost to most to pay. We are waiting to hear about the Maj. cuts. My husband is so stressed out. I wish they would just go ahead and let everyone know so we can plan accordingly. I’m so sick of the hurry-up-and-wait. I understand the need to make cuts, I really do, but if they’re going to do it, just go ahead and do it. That being said, I feel that the push to dismantle our military is going to backfire. I know it’s not a popular solution, but how about we just erase the tax cuts to corporation and pay for what we need. And we need a strong military. Not to fight wars, but to discourage others to pick fights with us…

  23. 55
    jason carswell

    The notifications have begun for Majors and I do not know if there is a true rhyme or reason for the separations. From our location…a female AVN Major currently working for a G3 Air shop with at least one GOMOR for sleeping with a married enlisted member, standard evaluations, and less than 500hrs flight time with one deployment was not identified for separation. Another Major from the same year group without any derogatory marks, over 1,500 hours flight time, and four deployments but has medical issues from service incurred injuries was selected for separation. We have no idea how personnel were actually selected. We guess the female Major coming from USMA had that going for her. Beyond that, we are at a loss.

  24. 57

    We got a pink slip a week ago, while my husband has been deployed. He has been one of well evaluated officer at current post, at least and his priority has been always serving The Army for Country’s sake for which he was deployed this time, too. The Army sent him there because there was no one fits for the job at his office so they ordered him to go and now he is heard that he has to leave till next Spring. How easy for Army to use their personnel when they are in need and just spit them out because they no longer need them. I am very much confused with this situation and still he is deployed. Now I became not only worrying about his safety but also our future. I really want to know if there was any jusfied reason or any proper standard for selecting for separation. I cannot help but it was a pretty much politicalized decision inside the organization. Please, share your thoughts.

  25. 61
    Mike Lin

    Just reading this is unbelievable…

    How could you possibly stay so dedicated with the doubt that your job may be on the line!

    Our thoughts are with you from here in Orange County


  26. 62

    Survived the “Tip of the Spear” before this started occurring in 2013 as a senior US Army Officer.
    I saw this implemented in a different manner in 1993 after the first Gulf War with “open season” of TERA.
    Retired as “soon as possible” before the axe started to fall, and fortunately I was already into “sanctuary” and protected under Title 10 and could not be considered for E-SERB either to be give my 20 years. Most people did not remember the Army Human Resources Command options, which are VAST to eliminate entire generations of officers with one fell swoop of the scythe. Hopefully, more TERA is still being offered until 2018 but it is expensive to the government. There is no rank that is safe folks, LTC and COLs got hit too, and forcibley retired.

  27. 65
    Meg fisher

    Can we chat via email? My husband was passed over last year. Ive been struggling with anger with tis issue. Oh and still had to deploy and still gone alot! Waitog on 2nd boards to come up in a few weeks..!

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