Doing your homework. Asking for help.
These two critical actions that will determine how rocky your first few years in retirement will be.
First, gather your resources and study — some extremely helpful resources are listed below, but the U.S. Army Retirement Planning Guide is a good place to start.
Second, talk to the people who will help you. These are the Army Transition Assistance Program Office and the installation Retirement Services Office (your state and RD RSO for the Guard and Reserve). You need to go to BOTH if you’re on active duty (Guard and Reserve can skip TAP unless they are on active duty).
TAP focuses on post-service employment. The RSO focuses on everything else a retiring Soldier must plan and decide.
You can take TAP and the retirement planning seminar two years before you retire, but you can talk to these offices anytime! And you can attend both more than once! Three years out is not too early to start gathering resources and studying.
Third, start networking. Talk to people who have been through retirement transition. Talk to mentors. Get on LinkedIn and start following the transition discussion. It’s truly not so much what you know, it’s who you know.
Homework and help: the path to success.
Here are some retirement planning resources, just to get you started:
- Army Retirement Planning — including the U.S. Army retirement planning guide and briefing and TRICARE briefings: https://soldierforlife.army.mil/Retirement/retirement-planning
- DOD Survivor Benefit Plan: https://soldierforlife.army.mil/Retirement/survivor-benefit-plan
- Change of Mission, the Army’s retirement planning newsletter: https://soldierforlife.army.mil/Retirement/change-of-mission
- The Official Army Benefits Website: https://myarmybenefits.us.army.mil/
- Uniformed Services Former Spouse Protection Act: https://soldierforlife.army.mil/Retirement/former-spouses
- Federal Employees Dental and Vision Insurance Program: https://www.benefeds.com/education-support
- Army Transition Assistance Program: https://www.sfl-tap.army.mil/
- VA Welcome Kit: https://www.va.gov/welcome-kit/
- Time sensitive VA benefits when retiring: https://www.va.gov/service-member-benefits/#time-sensitive-va-benefits-to-consider-when-separating-or-retiring