Navy Widens Policy That Allows Retired Officers to Serve on Active Duty

April 10, 2020 2:52 PM

The Navy is expanding a limited policy allowing retiring officers to continue serving after their retirement dates as the service balances providing stable force leadership during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Navy previously loosened some retirement restrictions by allowing sailors and officers due to retire or separate from the service to delay their separation dates. The latest policy, released late Thursday in a NAVADMIN, further loosens the Navy’s retirement restrictions by allowing officers with statutory retirement dates between now and December 1, 2020, to request permission to be “retained on active-duty status in a retired status.”

“Due to the uncertainty regarding the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic and the need to maintain operational, sailor and family readiness, this NAVADMIN will help provide additional stability to both the Navy and our families,” Vice Adm. John Nowell, the chief of Naval Personnel, states in the NAVADMIN.

The new expansion of retire/retain status is only for officers in the rank of captain or below. If granted, the period of retention would only extend until December 31 2020, according to the NAVADMIN.

Typically, Navy physicians and chaplains are frequently the officers who continue serving in what’s commonly called retire/retain. These specialties are exempt from the Navy policy severely restricting how many officers from other communities can remain serving in retire/retain status.

“No more than 25 retired officers, of any pay grade, may be on active duty at any one time,” according to the Navy’s policy, MILPERSMAN 1811-010, which exempts medical personnel and chaplains.

Navy officials feel compelled to expand the policies retaining officers who are retired because the recent spate of COVID-19-related restrictions has disrupted the service’s officer pipeline. Officer arrivals at new commands are delayed by the Department of Defense-wide stop movement order and the Navy had to halt its officer promotion boards.

Officers eligible to request retire/retain status are those who are required to retire because of their age, years of commissioned active service or because they twice failed to promote, according to the NAVADMIN.

Not all officers are allowed to apply for retire/retain status. Officers retiring because of disability, previous selection for early retirement or because of misconduct, according to the NAVADMIN.

Ben Werner

Ben Werner

Ben Werner is a staff writer for USNI News. He has worked as a freelance writer in Busan, South Korea, and as a staff writer covering education and publicly traded companies for The Virginian-Pilot in Norfolk, Va., The State newspaper in Columbia, S.C., Savannah Morning News in Savannah, Ga., and Baltimore Business Journal. He earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Maryland and a master’s degree from New York University.

Get USNI News updates delivered to your inbox