PROMOTION OPPORTUNITY: Our system is fair, impartial, visible, understandable, and provides equal selection opportunity to all eligibles. Promotion to airman through senior airman is based on a fully qualified system and commander recommendation. However, approximately 15% of airman first class may advance to senior airman six months earlier than projected through the Senior Airman Below-the-Zone program. Eligibility for promotion to staff sergeant through master sergeant requires commander’s recommendation, a specified time in grade, time in service and a predetermined primary air force specialty skill level. Promotion to these three grades is earned through the Weighted Airman Promotion System (WAPS). This system considers the following six weighed factors to determine your promotion score: Promotion Fitness Exam (military knowledge test), Specialty Knowledge Test (career field knowledge test) Enlisted Performance Reports, time in grade, time in service and decorations. Airmen in retraining status, returning to a former specialty, or are in career fields where there is no specialty knowledge exam written may not be required to take a specialty exam. The Stripes for Exceptional Performers (STEP) program promotes individuals with exceptional potential to the grades of staff sergeant through master sergeant and is another promotion opportunity available to commanders on an annual basis. Lastly, promotion to senior master sergeant and chief master sergeant is a two-phase process. Phase one is very similar to the WAPS evaluation although some promotion factors differ. Phase two consists of a central evaluation board process that uses the whole-person concept to identify individuals that have the potential to serve in the higher grade. The Air Force uses the combined total score of phase one and two to select individuals for promotion. Getting promoted is an individual’s responsibility. Each enlisted Air Force member is charges with knowing if and when they are eligible for promotion, making sure they have the required study references, report to the testing facility on time and keeping their chain of command informed of any changes in their promotion eligibility status.
FAMILY SUPPORT CENTERS: The Air Force realizes there is a direct relationship between a member’s ability to successfully accomplish a mission and the quality of life that his/her family experiences. Because of this relationship, many programs are offered through the base Family Support Center to promote a positive family and community environment. The Family Support Center offers a Transition Assistance Program for those separating/retiring from the Air Force, an extensive Relocation Assistance Program that includes a Smooth Move program to prepare those who will PCS and a base newcomers tour. The family services program offers a loan locker, which includes pots, pans, cribs, and other household items available for checkout to relocating members and their families. The volunteer resource office maintains a list of agencies accepting volunteers and a list of those wishing to volunteer. The family life program offers classes in parenting, couples communication, stress management, and a host of other family-related courses. The family readiness program prepares families for the stress of deployments, NEOs, and repatriations. Emergency financial assistance is available through the Air Force Aid office, and the Personal Financial Management Program offers information, education, and personal financial counseling on the full range of financial issues. FSCs are the first stop on base for information and referral services for all individual and family issue. In addition to these traditional Family Support Center programs, the Air Force has a comprehensive community We-site at . Crossroads provides our military members and their families access to a wide range of resources from information on 300+ DoD Installations to a spouse forum, secure and monitored teen forum and spouse employment web-site with exclusive access to jobs for our AF Family members.
MEDICAL AND DENTAL: In 1999, an estimated 43 million Americans (approximately 18%) did not have health insurance. Those that have insurance pay an average premium of $205 a month or $2,460 a year ($470 a month or $5,646 a year for a family of two or more). These premiums do not take into account the cost-shares and deductibles often required in civilian plans. As an active duty member, the military provides you and your family with comprehensive medical care. TRICARE is the name of the Department of Defense’s regional managed health care program. Under TRICARE, there are three health plan options: TRICARE Prime (which covers all active duty members and those family members that choose to enroll in this HMO-style plan); TRICARE Standard (an indemnity plan formally called CHAMPUS) and TRICARE Extra (a Preferred Provider Organization plan). Under TRICARE Prime, you will have an assigned military or civilian primary care manager who will oversee all aspects of your care, including referrals to specialists. As of 1 Oct 2001, active duty families that enroll in Prime will have no deductibles, cost-shares, or co-payments except for a nominal co-payment for prescriptions filled outside the military treatment facility (MTF). In addition to providing top quality health care, the TRICARE Prime program also guarantees access for all your health needs: urgent appointments available within 24 hours, routine appointments within seven days and referral for specialty care within 30 days. Emergency care is offered 24 hours a day. TRICARE Prime also includes preventative health screening services such as periodic eye examinations, mammograms, cholesterol screening and a health risk assessment appraisal that many civilian health plans do not cover. TRICARE Standard offers more choice of providers, but requires an annual $50 deductible per person or $300 per family (E-1 to E-4: $50 per person or $100 per family) plus a 20% cost-share for outpatient care and an $11/day charge for inpatient care. TRICARE Extra offers the same as Standard, but if you elect to use a Prime network provider, the outpatient visit cost-share is only 15%. Even after retirement, TRICARE Prime is available to all retirees under age 65 for a minimal enrollment fee of $230 or $460 for a family plan per year, a fraction of the