2021 arrives with changes. Among these changes is that service members who receive disability or other benefits from the Department of Veteran’s Affairs will benefit from a 1.3% increase in their monthly checks. Military retirees, federal retirees, and social security recipients will also see this increase.

Every year, specific benefits such as the military retirement pay, or VA compensation and pension are adjusted for the rate of inflation. As military retirement pay is one of the most important benefits of military service, understanding how it works and how to calculate it is essential.

The Department of Labor determines the annual cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) by measuring the Consumer Price Index (CPI), which is a measurement of a sampling of the cost of consumer goods and expenses. The CPI is compared to the previous year; if there is an increase, there is a cost-of-living adjustment, the COLA. If there is no increase, there is no COLA.

The COLA affects about one in every five Americans, including Social Security recipients, disabled veterans, federal retirees and retired military members. For instance, in 2020, the COLA increase was 1.6%.



In regard to the retirement pay increase, retired military members will obtain $13 more for each $1,000 they received monthly from the military retirement pension. Those who receive benefits from the Survivor Benefit Plan will see the same $13 per $1,000 increase. Civil Service retirees and Social Security recipients will also see the 1.3% increase in their monthly checks. However, those retirees who initiated the service on or after August 1st,1986, and decide for the Career Status Bonus (CSB/Redux retirement plan) will see their increase of COLA reduced by 1%, meaning their increase for 2021 will be smaller; $3 per every $1,000 they received monthly.

Now let’s talk about the VA disability benefit. Service members that receive benefits due to disability will also see an increase. The average check they receive will have an increase of $1.85 per month for those with a 10% rating, and $19.68 for those rated at 100%. For Social Security recipients, the monthly increase will be reflected in an $18.07 per month for the average beneficiary.

It is important to keep an eye on your benefits as military pay benefits change constantly. Being informed of the annual potential COLA will give you a better picture of what to expect when receiving your monthly check and what you should be receiving.



Updated: Nov 26

We all know how important Thanksgiving is, as it represents love, gratitude, and time spent together with family and friends. It’s the one day each year that is dedicated to people gathering together, sharing a wonderful meal and having quality time with those you love. However, it can be very challenging for military members that are stationed far from their loved ones and families. This year could be the first time new members are away from home during this time, and spouses and children are facing celebrations with their loved one deployed.


According to tradition, military members stationed far from home may have their own ways of celebrating the day. For instance, senior leaders may serve dinner to junior members or members may go to a Thanksgiving dinner hosted by a local family. Depending on where they are, this could be an opportunity to share traditions if the service members are overseas.


It is without saying that this year will make holidays different for everyone, so trying to keep some things the same will be not only comforting but also good for everyone’s mental health. Having a typical holiday meal could be a major help and comfort to our veterans deployed far from home.


Shoutout to the DLA: We have a special thanks to give to the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) who make it possible for U.S. service members to enjoy their traditional Thanksgiving meal. The DLA stated that the amount of food sent to our service members will cover all their needs! Fun fact: Even though there are fewer troops stationed abroad this year, the DLA sent 50% more shrimp this year than previous years.


To quote the DLA, “Our supply chain takes the holidays very seriously… our troops are far away from home, and they definitely look forward to this meal. Disappointing them is not an option.”


We are grateful that we have peace of mind knowing our service members will have a proper holiday meal, but we understand that it’s still hard to not be close to your family and in the coziness of your home. So, we want to give special thanks to these members during the holidays for their hard work and their dedication.


To the members able to be home during this holiday, we also want to thank you for your service and hope you have a wonderful time with family. This week is the time to be grateful for what we have, and find happiness during this difficult time we’re experiencing together. 2020 has not been easy, to say the least, but we will not let it take away these small, special moments. For our resilience and strength as a nation, we are grateful!


Happy Thanksgiving!!



I hope no one told you leading was going to be easy because it is not. It is even more difficult when your workforce is split down party lines. This election shows the country is split down the middle. This means half of your workforce feels a lot different than you do. In the military you would think that it is easy to keep the tempers down. After all, the DOD has strict policies on what activities will and will not be tolerated. The Hatch Act is very clear. It also applies to GS employees but that is a topic for another blog.

When I was a Command Master Chief in the Navy, I did not mind a little healthy discourse in the Chief's Mess because sometimes that is just how we work things out and get things done. Sometimes we all go to far. Sometimes we needed to remind each other what was not going to be accepted during election season and for the most part very few pushed the limits. When someone would take it too far, it was usually because the news was on in the mess during lunch or some big story had just come up and the arguments would begin. Sometimes you must agree to disagree and get back to business. If words were exchanged that needed to be addressed, we did so in private.

I had many Senior Enlisted Leaders with very strong political views. I know your social media is “YOURS” but if you invite the people you lead to your page and then you spew hate for a particular political party, how do you think your team sees you? If you have such a strong and hateful opinion about all Republicans or all Democrats and they are on the other side of the political aisle, how do you think they are going to feel in your presence? Do you think they trust you will treat them fairly?

If you chose to be very open about your political views, then you also need to be very open with your team about how you value their views as well. Any organization that wants to be successful needs to embrace diversity, this includes diversity of political opinions. You need to set boundaries early, remove friction points (i.e., news playing in common spaces) and address personal attacks. Our differences are what make us not only a great service, but a great country. It is acceptable to have a different opinion than others. Until we can all be adults, we need to be ready to lead during elections!


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