The Navy Reserve is a component of the United States Navy. Members meet one weekend per month at a local armed forces reserve center, where they conduct training to prepare for any wartime mission. Reservists also normally attend a two-week period of active duty, known as annual training, which is more intense and focused. Sailors who serve a minimum amount of time and meet other basic requirements are generally eligible for Navy reserve retirement pay and benefits.
One of the requirements for Navy reserve retirement is that the sailor serves for 20 or more qualifying years. He must also serve the last eight years of his enlistment in the reserve component, rather than on active duty. Sailors should also not have any criminal charges against them that would preclude receiving retirement pay, such as charges of espionage or desertion.
A qualifying year of service is defined as one in which the sailor earns at least 50 retirement points. Four retirement points are normally given for a weekend drill, one for each half-day of duty. In addition, one point per day is given during periods of annual training, or any other time a Navy reservist is placed on active duty. Each member is also automatically given fifteen points per year just for being a member of the reserve component, which counts toward the 50 point minimum.
A Navy reservist must complete at least 20 years of actual military service before submitting a retirement packet, regardless of whether or not he has already earned the minimum number of overall points. Any time he has spent on active duty may be counted towards this time. If a sailor has previously been a member of another branch of the military, the time spent serving there will count towards the time served as well.
A sailor receives what is known as a 20 year letter shortly after he has completed that number of qualifying years of service. The receipt of this document is a prerequisite to Navy reserve retirement. Members should make several copies of this letter and place the original document in a safe deposit box or fireproof safe to ensure it is not destroyed.
In order to receive Navy reserve retirement pay, the service member must reach age 60. Members who retire before reaching this age are considered gray area retirees. These people have access to many of the same benefits as retired active duty naval personnel, even though they are not yet drawing a paycheck. These benefits include commissary and post exchange shopping privileges, and space-available travel.
The prospect of Navy reserve retirement is a motivating factor for many young sailors when re-enlisting. It can also be a factor that encourages them to earn promotions, since their final pay is typically based on rank and time served. The benefits and pay associated with military retirement are a well-earned reward for a lifetime of dedication to their nation's defense.