Northwest Military Blogs: McChord Flightline Chatter

June 6, 2012 at 3:58am

Policy change to allow reservists to carry leave balance

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Air Force Reserve officials are working to change policy to allow reservists who earn days of leave to carry those days over from year to year.

New laws and Department of Defense instructions permit reservists to carry over the leave days. However, policy and procedures have not caught up with the new authority.

"This is a tremendous benefit to our Airmen, who historically were forced to immediately use, sell or lose their leave," said Rickey Harrington, the deputy chief of the force support division in the Office of Air Force Reserve at the Pentagon. "The new authority provides reservists more flexibility on how they use leave earned during active-duty activations and mobilizations of 30 or more days."

For each month served on active duty, reservists and active-duty service members earn 2.5 days of leave per month, equaling 30 days of leave per year. However, active-duty service members are also allowed to carry up to 60 days on the books as they cross the "use or lose" deadline on Oct. 1 each year. In addition, they can sell up to 60 days of leave during an entire career.

"While the Office of the Secretary of Defense and the Air Force have moved out on putting this in the appropriate leave regulations, Air Force Reserve policy makers have yet to implement the authority because there are significant issues that need to be addressed," said Col. Nancy Zbyszinski, the director of personnel in the Office of Air Force Reserve.

One key issue is tracking the leave balance that reservists will carry forward each year. The Defense Finance and Accounting Services, based in Indianapolis, is not set up to account for reservists' leave beyond a single year.

According to financial managers at Headquarters Air Force, the leave software automatically pays out to reservists if the leave is on record one year after the end-of-tour date.

DFAS is working to change the system and to prevent this automatic pay out, according to Lt. Col. C.J. Miller, the deputy chief of the force sustainment and requirements branch in the Office of Air Force Reserve.

"We are working the last of the policy implementation issues, and once DFAS finalizes their system changes, we'll push this out to the field," Zbyszinski said.

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