The most important part of retirement is careful and thoughtful planning that starts well before the expected retirement date. Waiting until "the last minute" means an active duty career that ends with stress, confusion and unhappy memories to mar an otherwise memorable career of positive accomplishments. Soldiers considering retirement should contact their S1 or the area Transition Center to get important information regarding retirement options.

Once you've reached a decision to retire, your first stop should be the Retirement Services Office. There are many factors to consider in preparing for retirement. The most important is money. Besides your military pay, you are receiving benefits either in the form of allowances such as for housing and cost of living, or payment in kind (on-post housing, free utilities, etc.).

In retirement, your pay is cut drastically and the extra allowances disappear; the RSO is able to provide you an idea of what your retirement income will be. Another place to visit is the Soldier for Life Transition Assistance Program (SFL-TAP) to determine what services are offered to help you prepare for a new career as you leave the military. You'll very likely need a paycheck to supplement the military retired pay and SFL-TAP can lead you to the education and training you'll need to embark on a civilian career.

Another source of additional income may be available in the form of disability payments from the military, from the VA, or from both. So it's important, in preparing for retirement, to ensure that your medical records have completely documented any medical conditions that could have resulted in a current form of long-term disability, or that could affect you in the future. The problems could have been the result of combat, or training for combat, or simply those that occurred during the routine performance of your official duties. An accurate record of your military assignments is also very important. This is particularly true in the case of overseas assignments to combat areas where exposure to hazards may have occurred.

A prime example of this is the exposure to Agent Orange for those who served in Vietnam. Long after that war ended and many Soldiers separated or retired, health problems were revealed that were related to spraying the Agent Orange defoliant. Health problems such as diabetes, skin cancer, and prostate cancer led them to file disability claims resulting in disability payments from the VA plus increased military retired pay in the form of Combat-Related Special Compensation (CRSC) or Concurrent Retired Disability Pay (CRDP). What are these? Your Transition Center will tell you about these and other important considerations as part of your pre- retirement briefings and RSO counseling sessions. To apply for CRSC, the DD Form 2860 (fillable) is used.

Keep in mind also that qualifying for disability pay could result in higher payments if you have a family. Also, a disability rating with the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) could provide VA annuity payments to survivors in the case of your death if the cause of death can be connected to a rated disability.

Preparing for Retirement

Preparing for retirement is a family affair. If you're married, your spouse must be fully involved in all aspects of your retirement planning and preparation and needs to know the important information -- what benefits will be available, what kind of civilian job you will have, what assistance is available to prepare for a civilian job, what educational benefits are available -- so that she or he has a vote on decisions that affect her or his life.

To assist you, the Transition Center in each Army Area in Korea provides briefings on pre- retirement -- the important considerations of transitioning from active duty to retired status -- and ensuring your families secure financial future.

Some retirees serving in Korea have picked up more than souvenirs of Korea. Some have married here and might be considering staying in Korea. So let's first look at what you need to do to stay here as a retiree, then later we'll look at what it's like to live in Korea as a military retiree.

Retiring in Korea

For those retirees who choose to retire in Korea, there are several steps in planning and preparing for retirement in order to legally do this:

  • Step 1: Application for permission to retire in Korea must be made as part of the retirement application process. To obtain approval for an in-country retirement, the Soldier must submit a memo to the Area Commander stating the reason for remaining in Korea (job, job search, education, etc). Once that is approved, the next two steps are extremely important.
  • Step 2: Obtaining a civilian (blue) passport is necessary for those planning to remain more than 30 days after the effective retirement date. Staying beyond that point is a violation of Korean Immigration laws and will result in a fine. The longer the violation, the higher the fine.
  • Step 3: A Korean visa must be obtained in your new passport in order to remain past the 30 days automatically granted to new retirees. As with the passport, if you do not have a current Korean visa, you will be fined for violation of Korean Immigration laws.

Pre-Retirement Briefing Schedules

On a monthly basis, Area Transition Centers provide pre-retirement briefings that are presented to retiring Soldiers. The schedule is as follows:

USAG Daegu: Third Tuesdays of the month 1100-1630 in Bldg. 330, Room 201.

Presentations are made by the following:

  • Soldier for Life - Transition Assistance Program
  • Finance
  • Transportation
  • Tricare
  • Veterans Affairs

Pre-Retirement Counseling Guide and Briefing

To aid you in navigating the maze towards retirement and into civilian life, visit the Soldier for Life website at https://soldierforlife.army.mil/

Reviewing the guide will assist you in receiving and  understanding the annotated slides presented in the Pre-Retirement Briefing, which can be reviewed before attending the Transition Center presentation. (You may need to download the briefing to review it with Notes displayed.)

Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP)

Ensuring that your family would be provided for in the event of your untimely death is another important consideration. You may become rich and not need the added insurance that the Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP) provides. However, with the option to disenrollment from SBP for a one Army Retirement Services has prepared an annotated briefing to explain the Survivor Benefit Plan, which can also be reviewed before attending the Transition Center presentation.

In addition to the above information, and to further assist you in evaluating whether SBP is right for you and your family, the Defense Finance and Accounting Service has prepared some

Information for you to consider as you prepare for retirement.

Counseling Services

Following the briefings, a question and answer period allows Soldiers to ask for more information on some of the topics that have been briefed. Generally, questions can be answered immediately. However, some Soldiers have more complex questions or concerns that are more appropriate to a one-on-one session with the Transition Center.