Ask the Readers: Returning to Duty After Military Retirement?

I occasionally get a question that I can’t answer on my own, and this one is of general interest to many of us. Can you help this military retiree with an instruction reference or a website?

Here’s their question:

I retired from the Army and Army Reserve after a total of 29 years. Six of those years were active duty. 11 of those years I was enlisted, and 18 of them I was an officer. I retired, I got divorced, and I really miss the military.

I am age 50 in excellent condition and even had a military physical completed to try to back in – but no one thinks they can help me. I don’t want to go active duty just Reserve or IMA (individual mobilization). Please advise me of who can help me. I miss the military. Thanks.

The Army Reserve allows some retirees to participate, with several restrictions. Here’s an excerpt from that link:

Transfer to the Retired Reserve. A member in this category may participate in inactive duty training provided:
a) Such training is at no expense to the Government.
b) Members are not entitled to pay or retirement points.
c) No official record of such participation is maintained.

Similar wording is in the “Army Reserve Non-Regular Retirement Information Guide”, chapter 3-1 c.2.b, page 8 (that link opens a Word document).

You could try talking with your local Army Reserve recruiter, but I don’t know what’s typically available at local sites. You could also contact the Army’s Human Resource Service Center for other program or instruction references, and then see what you could arrange in your area.

I can think of three other options to share in the military culture:

  • JROTC instructor at a local high school. These are pay billets filled by military retirees, but they’re very popular and in high demand. You might have to do this as an unpaid volunteer for months or even years.
  • Honors detail for military funerals.
  • Volunteering with a local veteran’s organization like American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars, Military Officer Association of America, one of the wounded warrior programs, or whatever other chapters are in your area.

Readers, any other ideas? Do you have a reference or a website?

Related articles:
Book review: 1001 Things to Love About Military Life
Introverts, extroverts, and retirement
Volunteering for charity or neighbors
Retirement: relax, reconnect and re-engage
Forget about who you were and discover who you are

WHAT I DO: I help you reach financial independence. For free. I retired in 2002 after 20 years in the Navy's submarine force. I wrote "The Military Guide to Financial Independence and Retirement" to share the stories of over 50 other financially independent servicemembers, veterans, and families. All of my writing revenue is donated to military-friendly charities.

  1. One easy way to reconnect with base/post culture is to simply start attending a weekly chapel service there (if you are so inclined). Some services/communities are more vibrant than others, but there are typically a bunch of ways to get involved in the base community if you seek them out starting with the chapel. Depending on how big the complex is, some of these positions are even compensated out of CTOF (chapel tithes and offerings fund) : musicians, admin, or educational/childcare work, etc. Often there are more retirees than active in the chapel services, so you may feel quite at home. Worth a gander…

    • Great points, LB, thanks. It’s also a good way to let the chaplain know if you’re interested in volunteer programs.

  2. Don’t be too shy, Nords. I think you answered it all on your own.
    I’m saying this without further research, but I specifically remember the excerpts you quoted above while reviewing the appropriate manuals. In addition, during my 7 years in the Reserves I never heard of a ‘retiree’ serving more time.
    A caveat to remember is that as long as you meet the current height/weight and grooming standards (not Nords) you are allowed to wear the uniform for many military functions (i.e. not just for fun). That includes Marine Corps Birthday Balls, promotions, retirements, awards ceremonies, veterans ceremonies, and things like that. For example, we were all very proud to have my father-in-law put on his Navy khakis again to assist in my wife’s most recent promotion to his same grade. It was emotional but not something you can do every day.

    • Thanks, Rob!

      I’m hoping to hear from the Army Reserve experts about any niche programs that aren’t used by the other services, but I’ve not aware of any other options either.

      Aside from the ponytail, I no longer have any uniform items to wear– just the ribbons & warfare pins, and my sword in a display case. My daughter’s welcome to have it all, but I think her mother’s sword is a better size…

    Comment? Question? What's on your mind?