Online training designed to educate Airmen about the new Blended Retirement System, the Defense Department system with changes on the current military retirement system, is now available via Joint Knowledge Online course number P-US1330. The course is also available to those without a Common Access Card — to include family members — via an alternate website.
The BRS was enacted into law in fiscal 2016 National Defense Authorization Act, and will go into effect Jan. 1, 2018. All currently serving members are grandfathered into the current military retirement system. However, those with fewer than 12 years of service as of Dec. 31, 2017, or Air Force Reserve component members with fewer than 4,320 retirement points may choose to “opt in” to the BRS during the designated opt-in period from Jan. 1, 2018, through Dec. 31, 2018.
“The BRS is a major change for our Airmen,” said Brig. Gen. Brian Kelly, Military Force Management Policy director. “Although the majority of Airmen serving today will not fall under BRS, it is important for all Airmen, either as leaders today, or as leaders tomorrow, to understand the changes that will impact Airmen in the future.”
The BRS Leader Training is a 30-minute course designed to provide basic familiarity with the key components of the upcoming retirement system and the timeline for implementation. It is designed primarily for Air Force leaders at all levels, but is also open to all Airmen and others who wish to learn more about BRS.
“Education is key in providing Airmen the information they need in order to make informed decisions about the BRS,” Kelly said. The DOD is on track to provide three additional courses with more detailed information within the next 18 months.
Cory Carmichael, 56th Force Support Squadron community readiness specialist, recently briefed 56th Civil Engineer Squadron Airmen about BRS and finances.
“I briefed them on both the BRS as well as the thrift savings plan because it’s a part of the BRS,” Carmichael said. “Currently we have an all or nothing retirement system. If you don’t do 20 years you get nothing from it as far as finances. However, the BRS is going to take care of a lot more Airmen and get them to start their retirement savings early. It’s also a portable retirement system so Airmen can start early and take it with them.”
According to Carmichael, Airmen with 12 years or less who are serving by Jan. 1, 2018, will have the option to opt-into the BRS or to stay with the Legacy system.
“If you don’t opt-in or make a decision members with 12 years or less will stay with the legacy system,” Carmichael said. “Life is expensive, and if we don’t start saving for our future we might not be prepared for our financial future, the BRS gives us a chance to start early.”
An “opt-in” course is targeted at those eligible to opt into the new system. This course will provide eligible active and reserve component members an understanding of both the current and new systems. The course will be available in January 2018.
A “train the trainer” course for personal financial managers, counselors and retirement services officers is targeted at those experts who serve in an advisory role to commanders, Airmen and their families. This course should be ready by fall of 2017.
A new accessions course targets individuals who enter military service on or after Jan. 1, 2018. It is intended to provide those members who enter service under the BRS an understanding of their blended retirement benefits and personal options.
The Air Force is taking a comprehensive approach to BRS education. “Online courses are designed to provide basic knowledge and understanding,” Kelly said. “In addition to the aforementioned courses, Airmen will receive in-person education at various points in their career, starting in basic training, and professional counseling will also be available.”
The Airman and Family Readiness Center will be conducting classes to educate Airmen leading up to the January release.
To learn more about the Blended Retirement System, visit militarypay.defense.gov or call the Airman and Family Readiness Center at 623-856-6550.
Story modified by Senior Airman James Hensley, 56th Fighter Wing Public Affairs photojournalist