Reduction In Force Tips: Prepare and Wait

It’s been eight years since your spouse joined the military, and you’re just finally getting the hang of it. You know how to handle a PCS move with ease (well, at least not with the frenzied chaos of your first move), and you’ve mastered the trick to long road trips with tiny children (SEPARATE toys and lots of potty breaks). Your spouse has made rank, he’s comfortable in his job, and has logged a considerable amount of hours in dangerous locations overseas. Retirement is in the far distance, but the light is absolutely there. All seems well.

Unfortunately, Uncle Sam has other plans, and hands him a pink slip.

Umm, what? Back up.


When the sequestration went into effect last March, the Department of Defense was staring down the barrel at a large budget reduction that not only affected the next fiscal year; no, it, like the Energizer Bunny, kept going and going and going, until reaching a final sum of over $450 billion in cuts through the year 2021.

To achieve this, each branch was looked at to find ways of cutting costs, and, ultimately, one of the biggest and easiest ways of reaching their goals was a Reduction In Force (RIF). Fast forward to the end of last year, when the Air Force, Army and Marine Corps all announced they would be looking to shed thousands of service members through voluntary and involuntary separations, and, suddenly, you have a sea of very tense and nervous service members.

Decisions now have to be made: To take early retirement or not? To accept voluntary separation and possibly receive a larger severance than someone waiting around to be involuntarily separated or not? Should you and your spouse start looking for jobs on the outside, or play the waiting game? How long before the knot in your stomach can finally relax?

While military families have operated their lives using the motto, “Expect the unexpected,” they were fairly certain that the military would be an ever-present factor in their future, as long as they chose for it to be. To swiftly go from having that one constant to free-falling in mid-air, looking for a soft place to land, is terrifying. Whole life plans will have to be rewritten… and quickly.

Right now, there are more questions than answers. The trickling down of information is just that—a trickle. Currently, the best advice is for the military member to have all of their paperwork in their file in order, and to think hard about their future, because decisions that previously were years in the making, are suddenly right in front of us.

Are you concerned about the cuts to our military forces?  How are you and your spouse preparing? 


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