There once was a time where you could safely assume that if you did a decent job and stayed out of trouble you could carry your career out until 20 years or more and retire. If you had a few bumps in the road or slowly progressed through the ranks, no worries, your retirement was all but guaranteed. Those days are long gone. In todayâ€™s Air Force one must be very aware of their goals and if retirement is one of them, it is imperative for each Airman to take very good care of their career.
Here are some of the major changes that will affect how our career paths can be altered prematurely. In an effort to meet its authorized end strength number, the Air Force will select certain career fields that will have limited career job reservations. The process is still automatic, but the memberâ€™s records will be used to determine who gets the CJR and who will have to separate at their date of separation. The high year tenure for senior airmen, staff sergeants, and technical sergeants has been changed to eight years, 15 years and 20 years respectively. DOS rollbacks have continued for the past couple of years. This program changes the date of separation for those individuals who have had disciplinary problems and squadron leadership has decided to move on and separate the identified individuals.
The new physical training standards are catching up with several of our new Airmen. Referral enlisted performance reports, administrative demotions and administrative separations are all possible outcomes of failed PT tests. Lastly, in an effort to meet those end strength numbers, the Air Force is taking a harder look at those who have been identified for medical evaluation boards. In previous years, an Airman might have been retained given their medical issues. Today, I am seeing more of those same issues causing medical separations or retirements in some cases.
So how do Airmen navigate through the aforementioned changes in todayâ€™s Air Force? I would first say we should all appreciate and not take for granted the many opportunities that our career in the Air Force has given us. Additionally, it is imperative for us to carefully plan out our career objectives and live by our core values. Supervisors have a great deal of responsibility in caring for their Airmen; giving good honest feedback, being a good mentor, and rating them honestly on the EPR. Every Airman needs to be very conscious of their actions and what could potentially be the outcome of their poor decisions. Administrative action or non-judicial punishment initially intended to be a tool used to correct behavior and be rehabilitative in nature could become a separation due to a DOS rollback. Reduction in rank now has the potential consequences of driving a HYT separation. Be very careful and always try to do the right thing. Fitness is part of our culture and lack of such will have consequences on retention as well as overall health. Take the time to take care of yourself; the effort invested will have long lasting results.
We all have the privileges of defending our country and being a part of the best Air Force in the world. I am honored to wear this uniform and appreciate that we are held to a high standard. Be a good wingman and live by our core values and the rest will take care of itself.