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15-year retirement window closes, but new round for some

Apr. 7, 2014 - 06:00AM   |  
The Air Force has made it easier for air crew applying for voluntary separation to receive service commitment and bonus repayment waivers.
The Air Force has made it easier for air crew applying for voluntary separation to receive service commitment and bonus repayment waivers. (Staff Sgt. Efrain Gonzalez/Air Force)
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Some airmen will get a second chance at a 15-year retirement.

The Air Force Personnel Center said April 3 that it has received expanded authority to waive some active-duty service commitments, or ADSCs, for airmen who want to voluntarily separate through Palace Chase, Voluntary Separation Pay, or Temporary Early Retirement Authority, also known as 15-year retirements.

However, the original TERA application period had already closed eight days earlier. To give those newly-eligible airmen a shot at an early retirement, AFPC said the Air Force plans to open another window to apply for TERA. It remains unclear when that application period will be, or how many airmen will now be eligible for TERA.

AFPC now has the authority to waive commitments for:

■ Aviation retention pay, which normally requires an airman to repay the unserved portion of his bonus.

■ Up to 72 months of undergraduate flying training ADSC.

■ Up to 36 months of advanced flying training ADSC.

■ Up to 36 months of Air Force Institute of Technology ADSC.

■ Up to 24 months of medical residency training ADSC.

■ Up to 48 months of medical special pays and bonuses, which normally requires an airman to repay the unserved portion of his bonus.

The Air Force also is expanding eligibility for voluntary force management programs, such as VSP and limited active-duty service commitment waivers, to officers in 33 new Air Force specialty codes by year group, and enlisted airmen from seven AFSCs by grade.

The latest numbers from the Air Force show a strong interest in voluntary separation and retirement programs. As of April 3, at least 13,600 airmen had applied for early retirement or Voluntary Separation Pay, although only about 7,700 were eligible.

By the time the TERA application window closed March 26, AFPC had received more than 4,000 enlisted applications, with about 2,800 eligible. Of those, 470 enlisted airmen had been approved and already notified, and another roughly 1,850 airmen had been approved and were about to be notified.

AFPC also received more than 1,000 officer TERA applicants, 60 percent of whom were eligible. The Air Force said 66 officers had been approved and notified, and another roughly 250 had been approved and were about to be notified. The Air Force said it will continue to process and notify additional officers and enlisted airmen.

In an email, Air Force spokeswoman Rose Richeson said that roughly 2,600 TERA applications had so far been processed, indicating that the Air Force is approving all or nearly all eligible TERA applications.

The release also said about 7,200 enlisted airmen and 1,400 officers had so far applied for VSP, and about half were eligible. AFPC had so far approved 750 enlisted applications and was in the process of notifying those airmen, and said officer approvals were about to begin. Airmen will be able to keep applying for VSP until May 1.

Most airmen who were ineligible for TERA or VSP were not in the right career fields, although some enlisted airmen applied for TERA even though they didn’t have the necessary 15 years to qualify.

The Air Force is planning to spend as much as $1.6 billion on separations and early retirements by the end of fiscal 2015, with plans to offer TERA to 4,200 enlisted airmen, according to budget documents submitted to Congress last month.

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