CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. --
Representatives from the Department of Defense Military Compensation and Retirement Modernization Commission met with senior officers and staff noncommissioned officers of I Marine Expeditionary Force aboard Camp Pendleton, Calif., March 25.
The purpose of the commission is to enable service members’ quality of life, sustain required human resources, and update programs to make them fiscally sustainable.
Members from the commission, including Chairman Alphonso Maldon, Jr., asked Marines and sailors for their opinions, perspectives and priorities relating to current programs and resources.
The commission obtains information directly from service members to help ensure that they truly understand the interests of the people they represent, said Maldon.
“It provides them an advocate to protect the retirement benefits that are out there now and enhance them later on down the road,” said Master Gunnery Sgt. James Bowen, the career planner for I Marine Expeditionary Force. “I think that in the past we haven’t had that.”
Maldon said that the goal of the discussion was to find out what service members think about current programs and hear their ideas on how they can be improved.
He also explained that he wanted service members to know that the commission was there to make things better. He opened the discussion by stating that they were there to improve efficiency.
Topics ranged from childcare, tuition assistance, financial literacy, retirement policies to health care and the military commissaries.
Lieutenant General John A. Toolan, the commanding general for I MEF, and other officers and senior enlisted service members expressed their concerns and ideas for improvement in these areas.
Bowen said he would like to see a 15-year retirement option. However, he knows that the current retirement system serves as an important incentive for retaining senior leadership.
“I think that it’s imperative that we maintain the current benefits and eligibility to retire at 20 years,” said Bowen.
Many career Marines are focused on the possible changes with the current retirement system, however, they do see modernization as an important first step.
“I think it’s good that they’re keeping updated with today’s time and today’s market because Marines are getting out today, not five or ten years ago when a lot of programs were written,” said Gunnery Sgt. Jermain Turpin, the company gunnery sergeant for Headquarters Company, I MEF Headquarters Group.
Many of the concerns expressed during the meeting involved the wide range of needs by different demographics within the Marine Corps. Policies and programs that greatly impact younger service members or junior enlisted may not be as significant to their seniors and vice versa.
For example, a lance corporal who is young and healthy may not be as concerned about changes in military healthcare as a master sergeant whose body has worn down as a result of many years of military service.
“Being active duty and having an injury is one of the worst things,” said Turpin. “What’s good for one person is not good for another.”
Later that day the Commission held a town hall meeting in nearby Carlsbad, Calif., to discuss these same issues with service members, retirees, their families, and other members of the public with an interest in military retirement, health benefits and quality of life programs.
The information received from these meetings may help improve retention and make life better for service members and their families.
Schedules for future meetings, records of previous meetings, and other information about the Commission can be found on their website, www.mcrmc.gov