Website to be online home for retirees

| May 9, 2014 | 0 Comments
Retirees are Soldiers who "Remain Strong."

Retirees are Soldiers who “Remain Strong.”

C. Todd Lopez
Army News Service
WASHINGTON — The Army’s “Soldier for Life” (SFL) website, launched May 1, is designed to be a new online home for retired Soldiers.
Army Knowledge Online (AKO) has been available to retirees and family members for many years now; however, the Army is transitioning to a more secure enterprise network for business users: Soldiers, Army civilians and contractors.
Retirees will continue to be able to access important information about the Army, and information pertaining to health, retirement, employment and education benefits online at www.soldierforlife.army.mil.
Mark E. Overberg, who serves as deputy chief of Army Retirement Services, said the new website will allow “ongoing communications with the retired community.”
In February, the Army Retirement Services office was moved under the newly created SFL program, Overberg said, because retired Soldiers are “a part of the whole Soldier lifecycle, the last part of the Soldier lifecycle.”
Right now on the website, retirees can also opt-in to receive a newsletter that lets them know what’s going on in the Army “with a primary focus on news that retired Soldiers care about,” Overberg said.
On AKO, retirees and family members had access to Web-based email services that gave them a “.mil” email address. Currently, retirees and family members are no longer able to send email from their AKO accounts or read emails within the site.
What they are still able to do, however, is instruct AKO to forward any emails they might receive there to a commercial account. The AKO website will continue forwarding emails to commercial accounts until Dec. 31.
Overberg suggests retirees and family members set up a free commercial email account to replace what AKO used to provide for them. He said, after setting up such an account, they should notify family, friends and professional contacts about the new email address.
Additionally, he said, retirees and family members should contact any businesses or other websites where the AKO email address is a part of their contact information and update it to reflect the new email address.
One such site, in particular, to update, he said, is the Defense Finance and Accounting Service’s “MyPay” website, where retirees and Soldiers alike can look at their leave and earnings statements and other important documents.
To ensure that DFAS can contact them, retired Soldiers should visit the “MyPay” site and ensure that a new or non-AKO email address is listed. Overberg said that today, some 500,000 Army retirees have MyPay accounts.
A3_ARNEWS_Soldier4Life_001_w
Of those, he said, about 350,000 are still registered there with their AKO-provided email address. By not signing up for a commercial email service and updating business account information, former AKO users risk not receiving important notifications.
Right now, the SFL website is extremely new. Overberg said the site is only in stage one of its development, but he said there are several ideas about what will be brought aboard as the site’s development progresses into phase two.
Overberg also said that the SFL website has been designed to be easier to use than AKO. He said he has heard complaints from retirees that AKO was too complex, and so they stayed away from the site.

AKO Transition
For more information about the AKO transition, visit http://ciog6.army.mil/AKOTransition/tabid/
215/Default.aspx

Remain Strong
The Soldier for Life program, and its website, is about more than just retirees. In fact, the retiree program was just recently folded into the SFL.
SFL is about the entire lifecycle of being a Soldier:
•From the moment a Soldier shows up at basic training, “Start Strong”;
•To the day he arrives at his first command and begins his Army career, “Serve Strong”;
•To the moment she makes the decision to transition from a uniform-wearing Soldier back into a productive member of civilian society, “Reintegrate Strong”;
•To the final separation or retirement from Army service and transition into an example in the community about what it means to be a Soldier, “Remain Strong.”

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Category: Army News Service, News, Sustainability

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