Navy rejects benefits for laid-off sailors
Rep. Scott Rigell, R-Va., wrote to the chief of naval personnel on June 11 requesting the involuntary separation date -- set for Sept. 2 -- be pushed back one year for the sailors with 14 years of service so they will be eligible for benefits. Under current temporary early retirement authority requirements, military personnel must serve for 15 years to receive benefits.
On June 27, Chief of Naval Personnel Vice Adm. Scott Van Buskirk responded to Rigell’s letter, stating the delay would be unfair and would negatively affect the Navy’s operations.
"We evaluated whether individual exceptions should be granted,” Van Buskirk wrote, “but determined that permitting sailors to remain beyond the cutoff date would adversely impact ongoing efforts to properly balance the Navy’s force profile, stabilize enlisted advancement opportunity, and improve overall fleet readiness.
"Additionally, granting exception for those who have not yet separated would create an inequity for those who have already separated."
The layoffs are part of a review the Navy conducted in 2011, when it found it was overstaffed at 31 of its 84 ratings. As a result, 2,947 Navy personnel have been or will be laid off.
Rigell’s office said he will continue to fight for the sailors’ benefits.
“He is not giving up on the issue,” said Kim Mosser Knapp, a spokeswoman for the lawmaker. “We are discussing the options now.”