Reps. Thompson, Walz Introduce “Proudly Restoring Officers of Prior Enlistment Retirement (PROPER) Act”

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Representatives Glenn 'GT' Thompson (R-PA) and Tim Walz (D-MN) have introduced H.R. 5832, the Proudly Restoring Officers of Prior Enlistment Retirement (PROPER) Act, legislation preventing commissioned officers from being forced to retire at their highest previous enlisted rank as a result of the military’s current force reduction policy.  

During the “Grow the Army” effort beginning in 2007, the Army dramatically increased in size, expanding to 570,000 soldiers by 2010.  A large number of non-commissioned officers stepped up to lead and received commissions as Army officers.

The Army is currently undergoing a significant downsizing, as combat forces draw down from Iraq and Afghanistan and the Obama Administration executes a broader force restructuring and end strength reduction plan, which includes plans to involuntarily retire up to 30% of commissioned officers and shrink the Army to 450,000 soldiers.

Under current law soldiers must serve a minimum of 20 years to become eligible for retirement. In order to retire at the rank of an officer, at least 8 of those years must come after receiving a commission. Some soldiers who have served over 20 years total, but less than 8 years as commissioned officers, are now being involuntarily retired at their highest enlisted rank, which has led to a large cut in their retirement. While the existing policy impacts all military branches, the Army is the most directly affected.

The PROPER Act, which is supported by the Military Officers Association of America, the American Military Retirees Association, and the National Guard Association, enables soldiers to keep their commissioned rank during retirement by lowering the eligibility threshold from 8 to 4 years.

“Brave men and women answered the call to military service as our nation expanded its ranks during the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. Despite having served for years in commissioned status and rising through the officer ranks, these experienced and dedicated warfighters are now being forced to retire at their previous enlisted rank,” stated Rep. Thompson. “Soldiers deserve to retire with the rank they have earned and corresponding benefits they’ve been promised, and anything less devalues the sacrifices they have made for our country. With the introduction of the Proudly Restoring Officers of Prior Enlistment Retirement Act, we plan to fix this injustice.”

“This measure gives military retirees the benefits they have earned,” said Rep. Walz. “I am proud to introduce this measure with Rep. Thompson and look forward to working together with him in the next congress to make this provision law.”  

Cosponsors of the PROPER Act include Representatives Charles Rangel (D-NY), Carol Shea-Porter (D-NH), Kevin Cramer (R-ND), Bobby Rush, (D-IL), Tom Marino (R-PA), Mark Amodei (R-NV), Lou Barletta (R-PA), Mike Kelly (R-PA), Michael Fitzpatrick (R-PA), Joe Wilson (R-SC), Scott Perry (R-PA), Richard Nugent (R-FL), and Randy Weber (R-TX).