PEOPLE FIRST January 22, 2016


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. For the complete story, go to the web address listed at the end of the story.

AF officials announce civilian reduction in force

In a continuing effort to meet Defense Department funding targets and rebalance the civilian workforce, some Air Force installations will implement civilian reduction-in-force authorities effective through April 4.

Following a major command-needs assessment in early August, more than 1,000 civilian overages were identified across 48 Air Force installations going into fiscal 2016. Having the RIF authorities will assist in the placement of employees not assigned against funded positions and allow greater flexibilities for employees to be placed at their installations while retaining their grade or pay.

Overage positions have been reduced through pre-RIF placements, hiring controls and several rounds of Voluntary Early Retirement Authority and Voluntary Separation Incentive Pay in fiscal 2014 and 2015. The Air Force no longer has the ability to carry overages when the position is not funded and will use RIF authorities to help place most of the remaining civilians on funded positions.

The RIF authority allows each location to use additional placement options such as: change to lower grade, retain pay/retain grade protections, and waiver of qualifications to place additional affected employees.

Pentagon announces changes to military decorations, awards

The Pentagon has made a number of changes to the military decorations and awards program to ensure service members receive appropriate recognition of their actions, according to a statement recently released.

The changes come after a long and deliberate review, a defense official told reporters in a Jan. 6 background briefing. Then-Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel initiated the review in 2014 to improve the military awards program by harnessing lessons learned from conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, the official said.

“He wanted to ensure that we’re appropriately recognizing our service members for their services, actions and sacrifices,” the defense official said.

The Pentagon statement points out key changes to the decorations and awards program:

– Implementation of new goals and processes to improve timeliness of the Medal of Honor and other valor awards

– Standardization of the meaning and use of the Combat Distinguishing Device, or “V” device, as a valor-only device to ensure unambiguous and distinctive recognition for preeminent acts of combat valor

Free tax services available to military members, families

With the holidays now over, service members and their families might start looking toward another annual event, albeit one that generally garners far less excitement — filing taxes.

The Defense Department wants service members and their families to know they can get free tax consultations and tax-filing software through Military OneSource, according to Erika Slaton, the program analyst for Military OneSource.

“The financial environment in which we live is very complex,” Slaton said. “When you combine that with the realities of military life that includes frequent moves and deployments, it can present some special challenges for service members and their families.”

Like previous years through Military OneSource, the DOD has teamed up with H&R Block to offer the free tax services.

The services could save members and families hundreds of dollars, Slaton said. She encourages all those who are eligible to consider using the services.

“It’s extremely important because of those challenges, (including) frequent moves and deployments, and because tax laws change every year,” she said.

Army, AF collaborate on education, innovation

Gen. David Perkins, the commanding general of the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command, visited officials from Air Education and Training Command Jan. 7 and 8 to collaborate with Air Force leaders on advancing education and innovation within the respective military services.

Perkins spoke with Lt. Gen. Darryl Roberson, the AETC commander, and Air University leaders at Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama, broaching on several subjects affecting both commands, from the future of recruiting to the emergence of new technologies.

TRADOC is the Army counterpart of AETC.

“As you deal with a very fast changing world, everybody wants to innovate so you want to be at the cutting edge,” Perkins said. “One of the keys to innovation is a wide-level of collaboration. Those units that collaborate a lot tend to innovate a lot.”