State pension board OKs Guard service credits

CHARLESTON (AP) — Public employees who also serve in the West Virginia National Guard can now count time spent on active duty status toward their state pensions.

They also can receive military service credit for time spent on training missions. But time spent serving on weekend drills does not count as military service for determining military service credits.

The state Consolidated Retirement Board approved the changes in a ruling issued Wednesday. The ruling came in an appeal by former West Virginia National Guard Adj. Gen. Allen Tackett regarding his service credits, the Charleston Gazette reported.

The ruling also says public employees who also serve in the National Guard qualify for a month of military service for any month in which they have 10 or more days on active duty.

A legislative rule adopted in 2013 requiring 15 or more days a month contradicts state retirement laws, hearing officer Jack DeBolt said.

Tackett told the newspaper that retirees who served in the National Guard are still penalized by the 10 days of service per month requirement.

“I have 48 years’ service in the Guard, and that qualifies me for one year of service credit,” he said.

Tackett said he would like to see the Legislature pass a bill to give National Guard members three years of military service credit for 20 years of service in the Guard, four years credit for 25 years of service, and the maximum five years of credit for 30 or more years of service. He said the proposal would reward National Guard members for their service to the state and create an incentive for members to stay in the Guard.

In March, the West Virginia Supreme Court ruled that the retirement board had wrongly denied military service credit to many public employees by failing to give credit for service during armed conflicts not specifically cited in state law. These include conflicts in El Salvador, Lebanon, Grenada, the Persian Gulf War and Somalia.

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