Attrition: Old Soldiers Never Get Old


August 20, 2009: Last March, the U.S. Army cut way back on its "retiree recall program" (which let retired troops, under age 70 and in good health, return to active duty if they had a needed skill) because the army was at full strength, and many qualified recruits were being turned away. Now the army has revived the retiree recall program, mainly because the retirees with needed skills, also had needed experience.

Technical and staff specialists, linguists, and medical personnel are the most frequent retirees recalled. In the eight years the program has been in effect, about 3,000 retirees have returned to at least one year of active duty. About 750 have served in Iraq and Afghanistan, and about a thousand are on duty right now.

Career soldiers tend to retire after 20 years (at half pay) or 30 years (at 75 percent of their active duty pay.) When recalled to active duty, retirees go through a week of weapons and tactical training, to make sure they are familiar with the latest techniques, and can still handle an M-16. They continue to receive their retirement pay, just as they would if they took any other job.


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