Members of the West Virginia National Guard will now be able to count training hours during times of armed conflict toward their state retirement benefits.
On Tuesday, Kanawha County Circuit Judge Carrie Webster ruled in favor of retired state Adjutant General Allen Tackett who sued the Consolidated Public Retirement Board for service credits that, he says, have been unfairly denied to him and to other Guard members who worked for the state.
“I felt that the (Consolidated Public) Retirement Board was giving the National Guard a raw deal and they wouldn’t listen to me at all, so I had to take them to court to prove my case,” General Tackett told MetroNews.
“The way the Guard sacrifices and serves this state, then for the Retirement Board to not give them the retirement benefits that they’re due that, to me, was just a shame. It shouldn’t have been done that way.”
Under state law, public employees get credit towards their retirement for time served in the military. There are several different credits but, up to now, training has not been one of them for National Guard members.
General Tackett says he does not think the Legislature ever intended for the retirement rules to be interpreted in a way that allowed those in the U.S. Army Reserves to count the training time, while those in the Guard could not.
“We could be at the same place, doing the same training, doing the same thing and they would get credit and we wouldn’t. There’s certainly nothing fair about that,” Tackett said.
With Tuesday’s ruling, General Tackett’s annual state pension, which stands at about $28,000, could grow by about $9,000. He says he plans to give the additional money to National Guard Foundation to help other Guard members.
“It’s not the money issue, it’s fair treatment to the members of the Guard,” General Tackett, who retired in 2010, said. He had served as Adjutant General since 1995.
“I make plenty of retirement pay to survive, for me and my family, but there’s a lot of Guardsmen out there who’ve retired who don’t. It was all about the principle and treating the Guard fairly.”
Officials with the state Consolidated Retirement Board have 30 days to review the ruling and decide on a response.