Seminar proves retirement not end of road

Base Info
John R. Claffey, standing, discusses Veterans Affairs benefits with future U.S. military retirees and their spouses June 11 at Camp Foster. Claffey is a Bloomington, Lousiana, native and Marine Corps veteran who relishes the opportunity to educate those who will soon step back into civilian life. Claffey is a Department of Veterans Affairs benefits adviser. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Isaac Ibarra/Released)
John R. Claffey, standing, discusses Veterans Affairs benefits with future U.S. military retirees and their spouses June 11 at Camp Foster. Claffey is a Bloomington, Lousiana, native and Marine Corps veteran who relishes the opportunity to educate those who will soon step back into civilian life. Claffey is a Department of Veterans Affairs benefits adviser. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Isaac Ibarra/Released)

Seminar proves retirement not end of road

by: Lance Cpl. Isaac Ibarra, III MEF/MCIPAC Consolidated Public Affairs Office | .
U.S. Marine Corps | .
published: June 21, 2014

CAMP FOSTER, OKINAWA, Japan -- The transition assistance management program hosted a pre-retirement seminar June 10-14 at the Camp Foster Marine and Family Life Counseling center classroom to ensure retiring service members and their spouses remain successful beyond the military.

Department of Veterans Affairs advisors led classes concerning several assistance programs that retiring service members may qualify. The tutors also made sure future retirees and their families know how to access and use the programs.

Leaning the intricacies and possibilities within the programs is vital and helps shape well-informed decisions when different life events occur, according to Lou D. Claytone, a VA benefits adviser.

“I think it’s not only important for these individuals to attend the pre-retirement seminars, but for every service member to get an understanding of their benefits,” said Claytone, a Fayetteville, Georgia, native.

Some retirees may take their benefits for granted and wait until the last minute to learn about them, according to Dean Daniel, a transition assistant management program and family member employment assistant program manager with Marine Corps Community Services.

“Oftentimes, the future retirees spend all their time concentrating on the mission at hand,” said Daniel, a Stamford, Connecticut, native. “Their next mission is to make sure they successfully transition back into the civilian life.”

The participants better understand the importance of knowing their benefits before they need them, according to Maj. Allen Agra, a logistics officer with Headquarters and Service Battalion, 3rd Marine Division, III Marine Expeditionary Force.

“I wanted to get a great start trying to figure out how to prepare for the transition from military life to civilian life,” said Agra, a Cleveland, Ohio, native. “The instructors offered considerable advice, including what resources are available, and how to use them.”

Although the majority of advice was targeted for the future retirees, their spouses should remain engaged and informed as well, according to Agra.

“At one time we would rarely get a spouse to attend,” said Agra. “They’re part of the military family, too, so they need to know what happens after (their spouse retires). Most of our lives are joint decisions, so it’s not just me telling her what’s going to happen, it’s us collaborating.”

Attendance of official separations classes within six months prior to discharge is mandatory for all service members; however, the pre-retirement class is an alternative, and focuses more on retirement benefit programs than the non-retirement options.

“Make us one of your first stops (if considering leaving active duty),” said Daniel. “We have a number of classes, workshops and seminars, depending on your end of service ambitions. Retirement can be a seamless transition to another phase of life, if you take the right steps beforehand.”

Marines and sailors interested in the seminars should talk to their unit career planner to discuss attending future classes.