Editor’s Note: The “People First” section is compiled from information from the Air Force Personnel Center, TRICARE, 56th Force Support Squadron, Airman and Family Readiness Flight, Veterans Affairs, the civilian personnel office and armed forces news services.
Offering a glimpse at what commissary and military exchange services could become in light of smaller and unpredictable budgets, the Defense Commissary Agency director and CEO described to Congress yesterday the consequences sequestration and the government shutdown have already imposed.
Customers packed commissaries Oct. 1, the first day of the government shutdown, Joseph Jeu told the House Armed Service Committee’s Military Personnel Subcommittee.
Not knowing what was ahead, shoppers stocked up on food and supplies, racking up twice the typical day’s sales, at $30.5 million.
“That was our highest sale day ever,” Jeu told the House panel.
But as the furlough dragged on, its effects increasingly became evident.
The department-wide hiring freeze had already put a dent in the customer service that has been the pride of the Defense Commissary Agency. Because turnover tends to be high among the commissaries’ lower-grade employees, manning levels quickly dropped, Jeu said. Two-thirds of all commissaries fell below the manning levels required to run the stores effectively.
While programs are in place to combat predatory lending practices that target service members and their families, better rules and enforcement are needed, witnesses recently told a Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee.
Predatory lending practices impact not only a service member’s financial readiness, but also mission readiness, witnesses told lawmakers in a hearing about the lending practices targeted toward the military.
As a former military spouse and assistant director of the consumer financial protection bureau, office of service member affairs, Holly Petraeus recalled the history and subsequent changes of predatory lending.
“I’ve lived on or near military bases my entire life and seen that strip outside the gates offering everything from furniture to used cars to electronics to jewelry and the high-cost credit to pay for them,” she said.
An alarming increase occurred in the early 2000s in businesses offering payday loans and corresponding increases in service members taking advantage of “easy money,” often without the ability to repay what they borrowed, she said.
“The Pentagon took note that indebtedness was beginning to take a serious toll on military readiness, as did the media,” she said.
The Air Force’s center for doctrine development has made it easier to access the service’s fundamental documents and has the potential to cut the time it takes to publish updates to the documents from years to months or even weeks.
Officials at the Curtis E. LeMay Center for Doctrine Development and Education culminated a yearlong restructuring effort last month on how doctrine is written and presented by formally launching their new doctrine database website at https://doctrine.af.mil.
Writing for his “Chief of Staff of the Air Force Perspective” on the website, Gen. Mark Welsh III reminds Airmen that doctrine is not stagnant, and he encourages them to “Dive into the website to learn from the legends that came before us as well as today’s Airmen. Take full advantage of this new tool as we continue to build upon our doctrinal foundation for future Airmen and provide unbeatable airpower for America.”
If your records meet a board tomorrow, would they accurately illustrate your suitability for promotion or retention? Are your evaluations, time in service, time in grade and decorations correct? Are your professional military education records complete? Do you know what your promotion recommendation form says?
If you can’t say yes to every question, you are not managing your career, and that mistake could cost you, Air Force Personnel Center officials recently said.
“There is no legitimate reason to be unsure about your records,” said Lt. Col. John Barlett, the AFPC officer promotions branch chief. “Not too long ago, Airmen had to physically visit the personnel center here in Texas to review their records. Now Airmen have 24/7 access from their home or office computer. Each Airman is ultimately responsible for ensuring their records are accurate and up-to-date.”
In 2012, the Air Force began using electronic records for officer promotion boards and senior NCO evaluation boards.