The Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) is a retirement savings plan for federal employees, and since 2000, it has been open to military personnel. The TSP is a defined contribution plan, similar to the 401(k) plans that many private companies offer their employees. As with any defined contribution plan, the income you receive from your TSP account will depend on how much you put into the account and the earnings on your investments.
Participation in the TSP is optional; you must sign up for a TSP account with your service. You contribute to the TSP from your own pay; currently, the services do not match contributions. Your contributions and the earnings on your investments belong to you. There are special conditions that may apply for contributions by uniformed service members.
The TSP website (TSP.gov) explains the TSP benefits available to uniformed service members and provides account information, including online statements. You may allocate contributions, make inter-fund transfers, and initiate loan and withdrawal requests online.
In contrast to the TSP, the uniformed services retirement system is a defined benefit plan. The retirement benefit you receive is based on your years of service and the rank you hold at the time of your retirement. Visit the Department of Defense, Defense Finance and Accounting Service for additional information on military retirement and benefits.