DOD offers families chance to keep seniors in school

Air Force families with children entering the senior year of high school may get to stay additional time at their current duty stations, thanks to a new policy announced this month.
“In today’s environment of deployments and high operations tempo, it’s important that we alleviate stress on families wherever we can,” said Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force Gerald R. Murray.  “This initiative is designed to do that.”
“This is a policy we think increases the quality of life for Air Force families,” said Mr. Roger Blanchard, Air Force assistant deputy chief of staff for personnel. “The intent is to decrease turbulence and increase stability for military families.”
The high school seniors Assignment Deferment Program allows senior master sergeants and below, and officers up through the rank of lieutenant colonel, to apply for a one-year assignment deferment. Back-to-back deferments may be possible and military-married-to-military spouses may also apply.
Even with the changes, officials said the mission comes first and will be the overriding factor in granting deferments.
“This policy does not mean that every Airman with a high school senior will remain in place,” said Chief Murray. “Deferments will be approved where possible. As in all situations, however, the needs of the Air Force will come first.”
“Requests will be considered on a case-by-case basis,” said Colonel Kathleen Grabowski, chief of assignment programs and procedures here.
“The goal is to approve as many requests as mission needs allow without being unfair, but the reality is that some requests won’t be possible due to Air Force needs,” she said. “We’ll work with people as we always have.”
To be eligible, the rising senior in high school must be a dependent of and living with the Airman requesting the deferment and must be enrolled in the dependent enrollment system called Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System, she said.
Officers will need to apply before being put on assignment while enlisted people will not apply until after being matched to an assignment, said Master Sgt. Letty Inabinet, superintendent of assignment procedures. 
Applications are available at military personnel flights and commander support staffs.
Officials estimate that annually 20 to 25 percent of officers and senior non-commissioned officers have children entering their senior year of high school and perhaps one third of those could be eligible for assignment in a given year.
 “It’s a benefit to families if teenagers can attend the senior prom and graduate with their established friends,” said Mr. Blanchard.
The policy makes official what was already being done informally whenever possible in the past, said Colonel Grabowski. In some cases, assignments teams were already successfully working with Airmen to allow families stability when children were coming up on graduation, she said.
The Air Force Contact Center offers information about this and other programs. For details call, 1-800-616-3775 or online at http://w
(Courtesy Air Force Personnel Center)