President, Defense Secretary Both Support Retirement Overhaul

The call to change military retirement benefits has gotten some support from those in the upper levels of the government, as both the White House and Defense Secretary Ash Carter both support the idea of overhauling the military retirement system.

Although President Obama stopped short of endorsing the 15 specific recommendations that were put forward by Military Compensation and Retirement Modernization Commission (MCRMC)in January, the White House does support the "underlying objectives", and will look to "adopt or refine the specific proposals in as many instances as possible", according to a letter the President sent to the commission. Details about the support of specific recommendations are expected at the end of April.

Defense Secretary Carter, in speaking with soldiers at Fort Drum, said that he supports overhauling the military retirement system to help younger soldiers who leave the military with less than 20 years of service. This plan, which was put forward by the MCRMC in January, calls for creating 401(k)-style accounts for all soldiers, which would be owned by the soldiers, no matter how long they served. The government would also offer to match up to a 6% investment from the soldiers' basic pay. Carter also supported giving soldiers a lump-sum retention bonus if the reenlist after reaching 12 years of service. The retention bonus amount would likely vary by service and specific career field.

One proposal by the MCRMC that Carter did not mention, though, is the controversial proposal to shrink the size of the current pension by 20 percent. It is worth noting, however, Congress has to approve any changes to the laws governing current military pay and benefits, and that any changes made would only affect new recruits - current service members would be grandfathered in under the current system.