- Posted April 2, 2014 by
This iReport is part of an assignment:
Air Force families search for answers in midst of Force Reduction chaos
It has been three months since the Air Force announced it's plans to cut 25,000 Air Force members as part of the FY14 Force Reduction. Airmen with certain indicators were notified in December that they were at risk of meeting with a rentnion board and subsequently involuntarily separated. Eligible Airmen were given the option of applying to separate through several programs, TERA for early retirement and VSP for Airman who have been in longer than six years but not long enough to qualify for early retirement. TERA would allow members with enough years in service to apply for early retirement, while VSP would pay Airman to separate based on their time served. Many Airmen began applying when the application window opened in January. Separations and retirements usually have a 30 day turn-around time, and Airman expected no different when they applied this time.
Since the application window opened, there had been a halt in processing applications which resumed with a promise from General Cox, to have all applications approved/denied by the week of March 17th. That week came and went. Airmen flooded the Air Force Personnel Center with phone calls and were told that despite the General's assurance, they had not been given the green-light to resume processing applications. Air Force Times reported on the confusion upon being prompted by frustrated Air Force members; http://www.airforcetimes.com/article/20140320/CAREERS/303200051/Confusion-continues-over-TERA-VSP-application-approvals.
Time went on and yet another deadline was set: 1 April 2014, yesterday. However, once again the deadline was not met and Airmen continued to wait in vain for an approval or denial. Upon the deadline not being met, Air Force members were told that they were no longer allowed to call and threatened with the possibility of being dropped from the approval process altogether.
Lives on hold.
In anticipation of relocating to their hometowns, securing employment, and out-processing, among other factors, most Airmen applied for TERA and VSP as soon as the application window was made available. However, it has been three months and many Air Force members are still in limbo about their futures. While some people have slowly been notified of their approvals, others continue to wait despite many deadlines being set and not met by the Air Force Personnel Center.
Airmen have been sounding off on various social networks and blogs and their concerns are real. Some have had to turn down job opportunities, while others worry that they will not be allotted enough time to house-hunt and enroll children in school in time for the coming academic year. Perhaps the biggest concern discussed is the lack of information being afforded to Airmen when they call AFPC to check on their application status. Many Airman report being misinformed, misguided, and even lied to.
Uncertainty and agitation continues to grow. As Air Force members grow more desperate for answers, they are beginning to reach out to Media Outlets for assistance. The concern does not seem to be about an approval as much anymore, but more about trust. The Air Force as made and broken countless promises. Real-life Military families and their futures hang in the balance as the people who once swore to proudly serve for the Big Blue, begin to lose faith in it, one missed deadline at a time.