Officer Grade Determinations

Officers don’t just retire from the service. They have to apply for retirement and their entire military record is reviewed before retirement is approved. Once retirement is approved the retirement grade must be determined. If you’ve had a little stumble along the way in your career, particularly toward the end of your career, it can spell big trouble and mean the loss of thousands of dollars or even hundreds of thousands of dollars in retirement pay over the course of your life. You will be retired in the last grade you “successfully held.” There is no formal definition of what it means to hold a grade successfully. If you have had a problem, it will depend on many factors, like the severity of the offense, the facts and circumstances of the offense, when the offense happened, and the overall quality of your record. Sometimes the best course of action is to remain on active duty and put a little more time and good performance between you and the stumble. Don’t forget that things that didn’t seem too serious several years ago can have very severe implications today. There is no more critical decision to an officer considering retirement than the amount of his or her retirement pay. One of the biggest accomplishments of my defense career was convincing a Major General to support the retirement of a Colonel who received Art 15 punishment shortly before he retired. That support was critical to the officer retiring in the grade of 0-6.