The Merlion Star DEC. 8, 2016 - Volume 25 - Issue 25

Table Of Contents

  • Blended Retirement Set to Expand Benefits; Eligibility
  • Sembawang Military Community Holds Annual Holiday Tree Lighting Ceremony
  • Holiday Season Safety Tips for Navy Region Singapore
  • Combined Federal Campaign Update
  • Navy Region Singapore Year in Review
  • Command Holiday Greeting Video and NRS YouTube Clips

Blended Retirement Set to Expand Benefits; Eligibility

Story by Petty Officer 2nd Class Joshua Fulton

The Navy released further details for the implementation of the new Blended Retirement System with the release of NAVADMIN 259/16, which announced the official eligibility requirements for service members seeking to utilize the benefits of the new system.

The Blended Retirement System combines elements of the legacy retirement system with government automatic and matching contributions to the Thrift Savings Plan. Created as a result of the FY16 National Defense Authorization Act, the new system goes into effect on Jan. 1, 2018; however, currently serving personnel will be grandfathered into the current retirement system, with some being able to choose to enroll in the new system.

“Active duty sailors with less than 12 years of service as of Dec. 31, 2017 and reserve component sailors with fewer than 4,320 retirement points as of Dec. 31, 2017 will be able to opt-in to the new retirement plan if they choose to do so,” said Petty Officer 1st Class Kenneth Scott, Navy Region Singapore customer service desk clerk. “No service member will be automatically moved to the Blended Retirement System, and the navy has begun notifying those who will be able to opt-in beginning in January 2018.”

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The new Blended Retirement System retains many of the elements of the legacy retirement system while implementing significant changes to who is eligible to receive retirement benefits. The system retains the traditional defined-benefit annuity, but lowers the years of service multiplier from 2.5 percent to 2 percent for calculating monthly retired pay. In compensation for the lowered rate, the Blended Retirement System provides automatic Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) contributions of 1 percent base pay and up to an additional 4 percent of matching contributions to a service member’s TSP account.

The new system also includes a continuation pay provision as a way to encourage service members to continue serving at the mid-career point. Continuation Pay is a direct cash payout of two and a half month’s base bay for active duty and half a month’s base bay for reservist in return for a commitment of four more years of service following completion of 12 years of service.

The Blended Retirement System is designed to significantly increase the percentage of service members who are eligible to receive retirement benefits as a reward for volunteering to serve in the armed forces.

“The new Blended Retirement System will now ensure nearly 85 percent of military service members leave the service with retirement benefits, even if they don't qualify for monthly retired pay.” -Petty Officer 1st Class Kenneth Scott

“Only 19 percent of active duty service members and 14 percent of reservist qualify for monthly retired pay, meaning approximately 81 percent of active duty members and up to 86 percent of reservists leave military service with no retirement benefits at all,” said Scott. “The new Blended Retirement System will now ensure nearly 85 percent of military service members leave the service with retirement benefits, even if they don't qualify for monthly retired pay.”

The DoD has initiated an 18-month multi-stage financial education training curriculum to fully prepare active duty and reserve component members as well as their families for the changes associated with the new retirement system. These focused training courses will be available on Joint Knowledge Online (JKO), with some courses being available on MilitaryOneSource.mil. An official DoD Blended Retirement System calculator for comparing benefits under the legacy retirement system and the new Blended Retirement System will be available to service members by January 2017.

For the most up-to-date information on BRS and links to training go to the Uniform Services Blended Retirement web page at http://militarypay.defense.gov/BlendedRetirement/

For complete information on BRS opt-in requirements and notification read NAVADMIN 259/16 at www.npc.navy.mil

Sembawang Military Community Holds Annual Holiday Tree Lighting Ceremony

By Marc Ayalin, Navy Region Center Singapore

The Sembawang military community participated in the annual Navy Region Center (NRCS) Singapore Holiday Tree Lighting Extravaganza, Dec. 2, 2016. The event gathered more than 200 military service members, DoD civilians and families. The event was hosted by NRCS Morale, Welfare and Recreation and featured a visit from Santa Claus, various arts and crafts activities, a children's train ride and castle jumper, food vendors, and volunteers offering baked goods and iced drinks and more. Additionally, a buffet of dinner was available so that everyone round out evening's festivities.

According to Captain Randall Martin, commanding officer of NRCS, the lighting of the tree is not limited to one holiday, religion, place. It's a tradition and a symbol of faith, hope and the spirit of unity around the world. With the success of this year's event, let's have a safe and memorable Christmas and a happy New Year's celebration.

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Holiday Season Safety Tips for Navy Region Singapore

Story by Petty Officer 3rd Class Madailein Abbott

The holiday season is here in Navy Region Singapore (NRS) but unlike most U.S. Armed Forces commands worldwide, the climate won’t be changing much. Instead of snow fall preparations, there are plenty of other safety tips to follow this year as citizens of the Sembawang military community prepare for the year-end festivities.

It can be easy to go overboard on decorations while getting ready for the holiday season. Take a moment to make sure electrical sockets are not overloaded with too many devices or festive lights plugged into one electrical outlet. Doing so can cause blow outs on these devices or potentially fires can occur in the home. Make sure to unplug all lights and decorations during thunderstorms to help prevent these disasters from occurring.

"The holidays are a time to celebrate with loved ones, but they are also a time of increased risk," said Lt. Todd Covington, Commander Logistics Group Western Pacific Safety Representative. “People can tend to get complacent and that’s when accidents can happen. Risk management can make the difference between coming back to work safely after the New Year or winding up as a statistic."

If you decide to purchase a holiday tree this year, there are plenty of venues available in Singapore to choose from. When selecting your tree, look for a freshly chopped tree with thick green branches. Dry trees with brown patches are more of a fire hazard in homes, especially when decorated with lights that are capable of reaching high temperatures. Water the tree regularly to keep it fresh longer and to keep it from drying out and becoming a hazard.

Setting up holiday decorations can be a fun activity for the entire family. When arranging decorations, try to keep chords and displays from becoming trip hazards in the home. This includes lights on a holiday tree or seasonal displays. Also remember proper ladder safety when setting decorations in high places. It only takes one wrong step to lead to a nasty fall.

“Singapore weather gets to be about 90 degrees every day, and November through February is no exception.” -Lt. Todd Covington

Singapore offers a unique environment where families can enjoy summer activities all year round. “Even though it’s the winter holidays here at NRS, we need to remember our summer safety tips as well,” said Covington. “Singapore weather gets to be about 90 degrees every day, and November through February is no exception.”

With the stereotypically hot Singapore weather, it’s always the season to take a dip in the pool. This season, parents can help to prevent injuries in the pool and other water recreation by always monitoring children while they're in the pool or water and never be more than an arm's length away from them. Remember, a lifeguard is not a babysitter.

If you choose to use a grill this holiday season, don’t forget about grilling safety tips. Before lighting your grill, check your gas tank and hose for leaks. It's also important not to wear loose, frayed or combustible clothing around open flames. Propane and charcoal grills should only be used outdoors, away from homes, deck railings and out from under overhangs and branches. Keep children and pets clear of the area and always let coals cool completely in a metal bucket away from the house after use.

“It’s very important to remain aware and safe this holiday season,” said Covington. “It doesn’t take more than an extra few seconds to make sure you grabbed the sunscreen, that the holiday lights aren’t too hot, that the chords are out of the way. Those few extra seconds could prevent a potential disaster.”

For more seasonal safety tips, visit www.safetycenter.navy.mil. For safe grilling tips, visit the National Fire Prevention Association (NFPA) Web site at www.nfpa.org/grilling.

Combined Federal Campaign Update

Each year, government employees come together to support the Combined Federal Campaign (CFC) by raising funds for agencies and charities around the world. At Navy Region Singapore, Department of Defense (DoD) employees have the opportunity to donate to organizations from around the globe to help support their cause.

This year our goal was to exceed last year's donation count of $11,908. Due to the community's hard work and dedication to the cause, we have been able to raise more than $14,000.

The final deadline for contributions to this years campaign has been extended to Dec. 15, 2016. Let's continue to support this worthy cause!

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2016 Year in Review

2016 has been an exciting year for our entire community. From the year-long Admiral's Cup tournament to multiple change of commands, military members, DoD civilians and their families have had plenty to see and do. Check out our photo grids below to see a year in the life of our Navy Region Singapore community.

January, February, March

April, May, June

July, August, September

October, November, December

Happy holidays to all the service members, DoD civilians and your families serving here in Singapore! Your hard work and exemplary representation of our nation enhances our relationships in South East Asia. Happy Holidays, and thanks for coming to work!

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