How Do I Claim Sanctuary for Military Retirement?

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The "Sanctuary" program, as defined by Title 10 of the United States Code, is a federal program for protecting military service members from being forced to leave military service when they are close to attaining active-duty retirement eligibility. Once a soldier has 18 years of active-duty military service time accrued, they are protected by the "Sanctuary" program until they reach 20 years of service and are eligible for retirement. While "Sanctuary" protections are automatic for active-duty soldiers, reserve military members serving in an active status (such as mobilized Reserve and National Guard members) will need to specifically claim this status to ensure they remain on active duty once their current tour ends.

Step 1

Verify that you have completed 18 years of active-duty service, or will complete 18 years during your current tour.

Step 2

Contact your unit's personnel office at least six months prior to your demobilization date to obtain a "Sanctuary" packet.

Step 3

Complete your "Sanctuary" packet and submit it to your unit's personnel office at least five months prior to your demobilization date. "Sanctuary" packets typically take at least 120 days to process.

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