How a Reserve Military Retirement Helps a Financial Plan



When I left active duty (for the 1st time), I had the choice of joining a National Guard or Reserve unit close to where I was going to go to graduate school.  During my time on active duty, I was away from my home station on deployments and training more than I was at home.  As I debated joining the Reserves or National Guard with my wife, she said, “Well, can the Reserve help us with our retirement?”  Good point I thought as I made my decision to join the Maryland Army National Guard.  When I retired from the Army Reserve 12 years later, the answer was a resounding – YES, the Guard and Reserve do help with retirement.


How the Guard / Reserve Helps with Retirement #1 – The Paycheck Starting at 60. The best part of a Reserve retirement is the paycheck that begins at age 60.  Granted, it is not nearly as large as an active duty retirement, but compared to what most civilian companies offer, it is a very good deal.  Additionally, the Reserve retirement is inflation adjusted which makes it a monthly, annually inflation adjusted pension payment.  Pensions, a consistent, never diminishing, and stable retirement payout is what of the most sought after financial retirement assets.


How the Guard / Reserve Helps with Retirement #2 – The Ability For The Spouse To Assume Payments. The Reserve retirement offers a variety of options to have your spouse assume all or some of your military retirement payment when you die before or after your retirement starts.  Bottom line is that your reserve retirement can serve as both a source of retirement financial income and a backup for your spouse upon the retired service member’s death if you chose this option.  The military retirement is a powerful and flexible financial instrument in retirement.


How the Guard / Reserve Helps with Retirement #3 – A Retirement Revenue Source When The Market Is Down.  Selling financial assets from bonds, stocks, mutual funds, or real estate in a down financial market is like ripping off a stuck Band-Aid.  No matter how you do it, selling retirement assets in a down market because you NEED the money for living expenses hurts and no one wants to do it.  The Reserve Retirement payment acts as a stable financial source that you can lean on heavily in down market years and not have to sell other financial assets to live when their price is below their value.


How the Guard / Reserve Helps with Retirement #4 – Using Military Base Activities Makes a Significant Financial Difference.  On-Base activities when you set out to take advantage of them consistently can make a huge impact in both reducing expenses and improving your quality of life.  The base gym helps keep you healthy and you can easily save over $1000/year by not using an off base gym.  The Commissary saves on groceries and you can still get those food items you loved overseas.  Finally, Space A travel is a tremendous opportunity when you have the time to wait a few extra days in Charleston, SC.


How the Guard / Reserve Helps with Retirement #5 – Assistance with Health Care. Only a handful of companies offer healthcare for retirement and that number is rapidly reducing to zero. The available options for TriCare for Reserve Retirees offers a reasonable option for healthcare when compared to offer available healthcare insurance for retirees.


I had the chance to chat with USAA Certified Financial Planner™,  J.J. Montanaro on the value of a reserve retirement. JJ said, "I was at about the 10 year mark and thinking about getting out when my dad hit 60 and started to receive his reserve retirement and associated health care. As a financial planner, that was all I needed to keep on keeping on! The decision to continue to serve in the Reserve or Guard is a six figure call. I’d also add that TRICARE Reserve Select is a tremendous value! Paying around $200 for a family’s health plan is unheard of and another financial reason to continue to serve.”


Remaining in the Guard and Reserve until military retirement is a great step to secure your financial future in retirement. They key benefit of a Reserve Retirement is when you access the full range of available benefits: pension, on base activities, health care, and options for your spouse.  Remaining in the Guard and Reserve is a great choice that makes you a better citizen, a better military member, and in a better financial situation in retirement.



US Military Retirement Pay Calculators -

Reserve Component Survivor Benefit Plan

US Army Retired Soldier Handbook (PDF)

TriCare for Reserve Retirees

Base Retiree Activity Office – Find the Closest Military Base and Ask for “Retired Activity Office." 



  • Point #2 refers to the benefits available through the military’s Reserve Component Survivor Benefit Plan or RCSBP. For more information visit the Defense Finance and Accounting Service website.
  • TRICARE Reserve Select is available to certain members of the selected reserve. For more information, visit the TRICARE website.


Are you planning to stay in your Reserve or Guard career till retirement? Share your reason why below.


Disclosure: Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards, Inc. owns the certification marks CFP® and CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ in the United States, which it awards to individuals who successfully complete the CFP Board’s initial and ongoing certification requirements.


About the Blogger:

Chad Storlie is a Retired US Army Officer, the author of Combat Leader to Corporate Leader and has published over 200 articles in over 100 publications on military veterans, career advancement, business, leadership, strategy, education, financial planning, and national security topics.  Chad excels as an author, mentor, speaker, and teacher showing business leaders and military veterans how military skills make lives, careers, and businesses better.  Chad is an adjunct Professor of Marketing at Creighton University.  Chad has a BA from Northwestern University and an MBA from Georgetown University.  Follow Chad @CombatToCorp and