ROBINS AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. — Force management programs will push thousands of active-duty Airmen out of their jobs, but opportunities exist in the Air Force Reserve for Airmen who don’t want to hang-up their uniforms for good.
“Force management will cost many Airmen their jobs, but not necessarily their careers,” said Col. Steve Fulaytar, the Air Force Reserve’s director of recruiting. “They can continue their service as Citizen Airmen.”
Reserve service provides a benefits package highlighted by programs familiar to most Airmen such as tuition assistance, the Post 9-11 G.I. Bill and the opportunity to work toward a military retirement plan. Additionally, low-cost healthcare insurance is available to most reservists at significantly lower rates than comparable plans, and enlistment bonuses are available for some career fields at specific duty locations.
Airmen transitioning into the Reserve stand to receive many benefits, but they also provide plenty of benefits themselves. New Citizen Airmen who have active-duty experience are valuable to Reserve units because they are mission-ready.
“When an active-duty Airman decides to continue their career in the Reserve, everyone wins,” Col. Fulaytar said. “The Airman retains the benefits of continued service, the Reserve gains an Airman who can contribute immediately and the regular Air Force has one less Airman that must be involuntarily separated.”
One key difference between active and Reserve service is that Citizen Airmen won’t have to relocate to suit the needs of the Air Force. Many reservists spend the majority of their career with one unit and only agree to a permanent change of station when the timing is right for them.
Airmen who are ready to separate don’t have to wait until their original enlistment or commission obligation is complete. The Palace Chase program enables Airmen to separate from their active enlistment or commission as long as they continue their service with the Reserve Component.
Airmen should be aware the recruiting process is somewhat different from when they joined the active-duty Air Force. Once Airmen are deemed eligible for Reserve service, they must work with an in-service recruiter to locate a duty location and position that meet their needs.
“Our Reserve units love fully qualified Airmen who can hit the ground running,” Fulaytar said. “But finding duty positions for new recruits takes time, so they can help themselves by contacting their in-service recruiter as soon as possible.”