People First


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.

Air Force opens door
to boost innovation

Based on a model used by Special Operations Command, AFwerX opens Air Force doors to highly innovative problem solvers with small amounts of money in ways that strip out bureaucracy.

The first AFwerX location will be near the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, so students and faculty, small businesses and entrepreneurs can connect easily to the Air Force. The storefront is slated to open by early 2018 with “open to the public” hours for individuals and groups to present ideas.

“We’re changing the way we do business with innovators,” Wilson said. “Bringing an AFwerX storefront to Vegas allows us to take advantage of Nevada’s emerging idea marketplace.”

Student loan forgiveness
takes effect in October

The first forgiveness of student loan balances under the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program goes into effect for government employees this October.

The program offers forgiveness for remaining balances due on William D. Ford federal direct loans after employees have made at least 120 loan payments after Oct. 1, 2007, while employed full-time by certain public service employers.

“This program is intended to encourage individuals to enter and continue to work full time in public service jobs, including the military, in lieu of seeking higher-paying private sector jobs,” said Dawn Byrd, the Air Force Personnel Center business process owner for education services policy.

AF rolls out retirement
program for civilians

Eligible Air Force civilian employees now have the option of working part time in a “semi-retired” status, according to new Air Force Instruction 36-817, Civilian Phased Retirement Program.

The civilian phased-retirement program allows eligible full-time employees to request to work on a part-time basis and receive a portion of their retirement annuity. Under the program, phased retirees will work half the number of hours they worked as full-time employees immediately
prior to entering phased retirement.

“This program allows dedicated employees with decades of experience to pass on critical knowledge to our other employees in the organization,” said Annette Castro, a human resource specialist at the Air Force Personnel Center. “It serves as a mentoring and training tool to ensure the next generation of civilians is prepared for success. Institutional knowledge is often difficult to replace.”

Commanders to have more say in education opportunities

Air Force officials recently announced changes to the nomination process for officer developmental education beginning with the results of the March 2017 Line of Air Force Major Board.

The March 2017 LAF Major’s Board results were released publicly July 18 and do not include in-residence, developmental education selection or “select” status.

“The decision to separate school selection stemmed from inputs from the field and discussions with wing commanders about how we continue to improve joint warfighting excellence. This is about lethality. Winning in combat starts with great leadership,” said Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein.

Effective immediately, commanders will now nominate in-residence, DE selection based on individual performance.

“Our commanders know their people best, and must identify Airmen whose consistent high performance makes them best suited for these developmental opportunities,” said Goldfein.

New mental health assessment
requirement began July 31

Airmen undergoing their annual Periodic Health Assessment may notice something new. A Mental Health Assessment will now be part of every annual PHA, to help ensure Airmen suffering from undiagnosed mental health issues are referred to the necessary care.

Mental health issues are a serious problem for the U.S. armed forces and the Air Force. These illnesses are often not visible to others, making them difficult to diagnose and leading to unnecessary suffering. By implementing yearly screening, more Airmen in the early stages of mental illness will be identified and referred for treatment, helping them heal and improving overall medical readiness.

“This assessment gives Airmen an annual opportunity to review their mental health with a medical provider and discuss any concerns they may have,” said Col. Steven Pflanz, the Air Force director of psychological health. “Making the process routine for everyone reduces stigma and makes it easier for Airmen suffering from mental health problems to obtain care.”