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Voluntary separations accelerate for officers

Aug. 17, 2014 - 01:43PM   |  
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Recent revisions to the Voluntary Separation Pay program for officers will push those declining orders and then requesting VSP out of the service more quickly.

Officers who decline orders now have just 10 days from the date orders are issued to request VSP. Additionally, their new EAS date must be adjusted to a maximum of 120 days from the time of their request, according to Marine administrative message 371/14, signed Aug. 6.

The change regarding orders “ensures monitors can fill required billets in a timely and accurate manner,” said Maj. Thomas Dolan, a Manpower and Reserve Affairs spokesman.

This revision addresses the problem of officers who have no intention of executing orders or staying in uniform, but nonetheless stick around for months. Some officers waited to apply for VSP until just prior to the separation date required for a Marine who declines orders.Administrators then placed those officers in a “holding status” pending review of their VSP request, further extending their time in uniform.

For the individual officer, the extension meant a steady paycheck. But, for the service, the result was difficulty filling billets left empty with little advance notice. It also increased manpower costs by keeping Marines on their way out the door on the payroll longer.

Like other voluntary force-shaping measures, VSP is carefully targeted by rank and MOS. The fiscal 2015 program is open to majors and major selects who have served at least six years in one of 43 military occupational specialties. Depending on base pay and years of service, some could take home about $200,000.

The payout is calculated by multiplying a Marine’s annual basic pay by his years of service, and multiplying the total by 20 percent. A major with 12 years of service making $83,055 per year, for example, would receive a VSP payout of $199,332, before taxes.

The Officer Voluntary Separation Pay program is just one of several voluntary programs that target enlisted and officers. Those also include the Temporary Early Retirement Authority Program, which provides Marines who have served at least 15, but fewer than 20, years with a retirement pension, but at a reduced rate based on rank and years of service. While these incentives are aimed at freeing up stagnated ranks and specialties, there are two other key results: The service generates savings on manpower costs as budgets shrink, and it accelerates toward the goal of cullingits ranks to just 174,000 by the end of 2017.

To maximize savings, some of those programs have even been opened in recent years to “cross-year separations.” For example, enlisted Marines with fiscal 2015 end of active service dates were permitted to separate in fiscal 2014 under the Voluntary Enlisted Early Release Program.

A lesser change to the MARADMIN affecting only Marines who hold the 4402 judge advocate specialty requires Marines in that MOS to have served at least 10 years before applying for VSP, rather than the standard six. With judge advocates specializing in law and going through a particularly long training pipeline, the 10-year limit is most likely to ensure the Marine Corps has received some return on its investment in those Marines before they depart the service.

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