Navy Approves Interim Retirement Ceremony Rules

29 May 2020

From MC1 Mark D. Faram, Chief of Naval Personnel Public Affairs

The Navy has cleared the way for Sailors to plan command-sponsored retirement ceremonies though none will be held until social distancing restrictions are relaxed.

The Navy has cleared the way for Sailors to plan command-sponsored retirement ceremonies though none will be held until social distancing restrictions are relaxed. 

“COVID-19 has limited group gatherings and congregate events, such as command-sponsored retirement ceremonies designed to express the Navy’s appreciation for the many years of faithful and honorable service members have devoted to their country,” wrote Vice Adm. John B. Nowell, the Navy’s top uniformed personnel officer, in NAVADMIN 160/20 released May 29. 

“Commands using the authority in this NAVADMIN may approve requests by members on a case-by-case basis after fully considering existing Navy mitigation measures in response to the coronavirus outbreak.”

Once conditions permit, Nowell wrote that commands, “will make every reasonable effort within regulations, budgetary constraints, and practicality to provide the items requested.”

Here’s how the policy, which remains in effect for one year, will work. 

Commands can now approve requests from Sailors for officially sponsored retirement ceremonies. 

Only requests for command-sponsored retirements, held either preceding retirement, or for Sailors willing to return for their ceremony once social distancing restrictions are lifted, will be approved. Though any retirement can be delayed, all must be held within three months of local base social distancing restrictions being lifted.

No ceremonies will occur, however, until after the local installation commander deems gatherings of 10 or more people can safely happen.

The policy, the message states, not only applies to Sailors who retire on schedule during current COVID-19 restrictions, but also those who receive voluntary extension approvals to delay their retirement as part of the COVID-19 mitigation efforts. 

Sailors who retire, but who plan to return to return hold their ceremony, need to be aware that travel funding to return for their ceremony might not be possible. There are DoD restrictions on funded travel for retired service members, the message said. As a result, Nowell urged commands, “scrutinize requests from members for invitational travel orders on a case-by-case basis.”

Once commands give an official approval, the message states, the retirement ceremony becomes an official command function.  Sponsoring commands will only use operating funds in the fiscal year the retirement ceremony is held. 

Sailors and commands should consult NAVADMIN 160/20 and DoD financial rules before using official funding. For example, the message says that appropriated funds can’t pay for, “food, receptions, or unofficial functions.”

When planning and requesting an official retirement ceremony, Sailors should read MILPERSMAN Article 1800-010, which lays out the rules for retirement ceremonies, and they should review the other references noted in the message as well.

The latest DoD policies can be found at:

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