All posts by jchavana

Step Up, Step In: What’s a line of duty determination?

By Staff Sgt. Ryan Crane

During the last five years, the Air Force notified the families of 232 Airmen that their son or daughter died.

Although most anyone can tell you the military can be a dangerous job and being put in harm’s way is often just part of the commitment, the most disturbing part about that statistic is 212 of those Airmen died while off duty.

Even more upsetting is that because of the circumstances surrounding the deaths, some families were paid no benefits. In every case, the deciding factor came down to the line of duty determination.

A line of duty determination investigation is conducted anytime a member acquires a debilitating disease, incurs a significant injury or dies under unusual circumstances, according to Capt. Mikal Nuhn, U.S. Air Forces in Europe and Air Forces Africa judge advocate. The findings determine whether or not death benefits are paid.

“When a military member is seriously injured or dies, certain statutory rights or benefits accrue to the member or their family,” Nuhn explained. “But only if the disability or death was attributed to military service, and in the line of duty.”

There are four possible outcomes of an LOD determination:
1. Condition existed prior to service and was not aggravated by service.
2. In the line of duty, not due to servicemember’s own misconduct.
3. Not in the line of duty and not due to the servicemember’s own misconduct.
4. Not in the line of duty and due to the sevicemember’s own misconduct.

Nuhn explained how to avoid the fourth outcome in very simple terms.

“Always behave in a reasonably safe manner because your actions could have unintended negative consequences for your loved ones,” he said.

This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take a trip to Switzerland to go bungee jumping or hit the slopes to shred some powder. As long as you take all safety precautions these activities would likely be considered “in the line of duty” and you or your family would receive benefits.

However, a scenario that would likely not provide death benefits to your family is one that involves alcohol. An example is when an Airman drives drunk and puts himself and his family at risk, even if it is not his intention.

Making good choices and taking personal responsibility are key. The wingman concept is a great safety net, but in the end, every individual is responsible for his or her actions and consequences.

“By definition, all mishaps are preventable,” said Master Sgt. James Musgrave, USAFE-AFAFRICA mishap prevention manager.

Accidents happen, but there are always ways to minimize or eliminate risk in everything you do.

“While the younger Airmen have a good portion of the mishaps, no age or rank is immune to mishaps,” Musgrave explained. “It’s more of a psychology issue than an age issue.  ‘It will never happen to me’ is a common jinx if the speaker is not risk conscious.”

As the Air Force Safety Center motto states: “Safety is no accident.”

“Be risk aware, not inattentive,” said Musgrave. “One of the leading factors of mishaps is inattention, which sometimes is a result of boredom or a perceived absence of a threat. If Airmen are aware of the risks, they can control the ones that are controllable.”

Every March, I mustache myself a question

By Capt. Zach Anderson
931st Air Refueling Group Public Affairs

The razor hovered just above my upper lip. The blade was suspended millimeters from my skin. The consequences of my next move would have lasting ramifications for at least the next thirty days. Even at this moment of reckoning, I wasn’t sure which path I would choose.

The day had started like any other Monday: Slap the alarm, get dressed, head to the gym, and then on to work. But this morning was different. This was Monday, March 2, 2015, the first official work day of “Mustache March 2015.” Today, the typical morning routine of gym, shower and shave was anything but typical. This morning came with the added weight of a decision that had to be made–a decision that was reflected in the mirror, literally staring me in the face as I stood there with razor in hand.

To shave or not to shave? That is the question.

The pull to drop the razor, rinse the shaving cream off my upper lip and “let it grow” was strong. After all, Mustache March is a part of Air Force heritage, the roots of which go back to the legendary facial hair of Brig. Gen. Robin Olds, a triple-ace fighter pilot attributed with shooting down a total of 17 enemy aircraft in World War II and Vietnam. Wasn’t it in some way my duty as an Airman to do my part to pay homage to this tradition?

Besides, I already had a weekend’s worth of stubble in place which made for the beginnings of what could possibly evolve into a truly glorious mustache. Visions of a perfectly waxed handlebar danced in my head as I imagined taking the top prize for the base “Mustache March Madness” competition. (Granted, the handlebar style wouldn’t be within Air Force regulations for dress and appearance, which would mean disqualification from the competition, but still, it would look fantastic!)

On the other hand, my track record for growing a mustache, or facial hair of any type for that matter, is less than stellar. Prior to joining the military, I made a few ill-fated attempts at a goatee, and during a deployment, I even sported a valiant attempt at what turned out to be a miserable excuse for a mustache. Unfortunately, all my attempts fell well short of the initial goal of growing luscious, full-bodied whiskers. (The results were bad enough my wife informed me that, should I return to the United States from my deployment with said mustache on my upper lip, I could find my own ride home from the airport…and I’d be sleeping on the couch until the growth was removed.)

Plus, I’m a public affairs officer. What if I’m needed to give a statement to the media or appear on camera for a TV interview?  Would I come across as a professional representative for the Air Force with a scraggly bit of peach fuzz resembling a severely malnourished caterpillar adorning my upper lip?

These thoughts coursed through my mind as I stood there, weighing the pros and cons of participating in the yearly tradition against maintaining my usual, freshly-shorn face. After several moments of agonizing, I made my decision. I pressed the razor to my skin and began to shave.

I simply have to face the facts: I’m no Tom Selleck. Even at the ripe old age of 35, I still can’t grow what can be even remotely considered a real mustache. For this reason, I regretfully will not  participate in Mustache March 2015. For those of you who can pull off the mustache, I salute you and give my full support to your brave, month-long endeavor.

May your whiskers sprout thick and true and may no inadvertent slip of a razor blemish their growth. A part of me envies your facial hair generation ability. In a way, I feel like I’m missing out on a part of Air Force heritage and tradition. But in another way, I’m quite pleased with my decision to remain clean shaven.

The fact is, I honestly couldn’t have taken sleeping on the couch for an entire month, not even for the sake of tradition.

Military Appreciation Month: Spotlight on an Airman Week 4

Airman points in the direction of a project

By Senior Airman Zachiah Roberson
319th Air Base Wing Public Affairs

Editor’s note: May is Military Appreciation Month, and we’ll highlight a different Airman and his or her job once per week for this month. We’re truly grateful for the hard work each Airman puts forth each day, and every job — big or small – contributes to the U.S. Air Force being the best Air Force in the world. Is there a military member you appreciate? Tell us in the comments below.

Airman 1st Class Richard Walls, a 319th Contracting Flight contract administrator at Grand Forks Air Force Base, North Dakota, has been in the Air Force for nearly two years and is an active outdoorsman.

Why is serving in the Air Force important to you?
I enlisted in the Air Force with the goal of not only learning a new skill set in something I’d enjoy, but also to make a better life for my family. With the opportunities the Air Force has given me, I am very fortunate to be able to say those goals have been met.

What accomplishment as a “Warrior of the North” are you most proud of, and why?
Being that I work in contracting, no one really knows what we do. Little do they know, without the “small, but mighty” contracting flight, they wouldn’t be able to have half the things they do now. I’m proud to say that I am part of that great group.

What is your favorite part of your job?
The favorite thing about my job is definitely the camaraderie in my office. Everyone is so helpful and so giving. I couldn’t have asked for a better group of co-workers.

Who inspires you, and why?
My mom is my true inspiration. Without her, I wouldn’t have accomplished the things I have to this day. Since I was young, she has always pushed me to try my best in everything I do.

What’s the first thing that made you think Grand Forks Air Force Base was a cool place other than the temperature or weather?
Being an outdoorsman, I love the fishing, hunting and trail riding that North Dakota has to offer, despite the fact that you can only enjoy the outdoors four months out of the year.

PHOTO: Airman 1st Class Richard Walls and Senior Airman Ernest Trosen, 319th Contracting Flight contract administrators, review specifications for an upcoming construction project on Grand Forks Air Force Base, N.D., May 21, 2014. Walls was named Warrior of the North for the third week of May. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Zachiah Roberson/Released)

Transitional needs of military spouses and families April 16 tweetchat

By Air Force Public Affairs Agency

If you missed our April 16 tweetchat regarding transitional needs of military spouses and families with Mrs. Betty Welsh, Chief of Staff of the Air Force spouse and Mrs. Athena Cody, Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force spouse, you can catch up on the questions and answers below!

Q1: As a relocating spouse, what transition assistance services are available to help me find employment at our new location? #BettyWelsh
A1a: There is the Virtual Curriculum in Transition GPS classes you take w/your spouse #BettyWelsh
A1b: Take advantage of @MSEPjobs (Military Spouse Employment Partnership) up to 6 months after your spouse separation date. #BettyWelsh
A1c: Check out your new state on American Job Centers for vets/family employment assistance #BettyWelsh

Q2: How is the Air Force going to help transition Airmen out of the Air Force? #BettyWelsh
A2a: A&FRC (Airman & Family Readiness Center) offer the congressionally mandated Transition Assistance Program (TAP) or Transition Goals Plans Success(GPS) #BettyWelsh
A2b: New TAP is better than ever! 4 core blocks & 3 in depth tracks prep you for education, training or entrepreneurship #BettyWelsh

Q3: My spouse has prep’d for this transition & has landed an excellent job. Does he/she have to take all this TAP stuff? #BettyWelsh
A3: Pre-sep counseling, capstone & VA brief are required, but proof of employment can exempt them from TAP/GPS #BettyWelsh

Q4: I’m a stay-at-home-mom so I can’t make it to the TAP workshop, is there a way I can participate in the TAP/GPS workshop? #BettyWelsh
A4: Yes, all TAP workshops have a virtual option. Your spouse can set up access for you or visit your local A&FRC #BettyWelsh

Q5: Do Airmen and their families receive any benefits beyond their separation dates? #BettyWelsh
A5a: TERA (temporary early retirement authority) & SERB (selective early retirement boards) members receive all retirement benefits. #BettyWelsh
A5b: Involuntary separation benefits include 180 days medical, two years BX (Base Exchange)/Commissary, PTDY (permissive temporary duty), NAF (Numbered Air Force) hiring pref & more. #BettyWelsh

Q6: Is everyone separating eligible for 20 days CONUS & 30 days OCONUS permissive TDY for house hunting & job hunting? #BettyWelsh
A6:  Members who retire or are under VSP (voluntary separation program), involuntary separation or separate in lieu of meeting a retention board are eligible for PTDY #BettyWelsh

Q7: Will individuals selected for involuntary separation or retirement have to repay Transfer of Education Benefits (TEB) to family? #BettyWelsh
A7: No repayment needed for most members selected to involuntary separation/retire under the Fiscal Year 2014 FM (force management) –visit #BettyWelsh

Q8: My spouse may apply for VSP–is there 180-day Tricare coverage & two-year of commissary privileges as part of the VSP benefits? #BettyWelsh
A8: No, the extended benefits are only for involuntary separation. They are not authorized for those who voluntarily separate. #BettyWelsh

Q9: Can key spouses receive information on the links mentioned & share at their squadrons? #BettyWelsh
A9: Key spouses should visit A&FRC to gather info on these sources and share with squadrons.

Q10: Will civilians resources or liaisons be available for separating EFMP (Exceptional Family Member Program) families? #BettyWelsh
A10: It’s important for spouses to attend TAP briefing along with mil member to get that tailored info.

Q11: Who is helping spouses with licensure transfers after relocation? #BettyWelsh
A11: @MSEPjobs and @JoiningForces are partnering on license portability.

The next Air Force tweetchat will feature security forces with both an officer and an enlisted Airmen joining us as guests on April 24. Stay tuned!

April 10 recruitment tweet chat

By the Air Force Public Affairs Agency

The Air Force Recruiting Service participated in its eighth “office hours” tweet chat, #AsktheAF on @usairforce, April 10 and received 69 recruitment questions from Twitter followers. During the hour-long Web event, AFRS officials and the Air Force Social Media Team answered questions about enlistment eligibility requirements, Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery test scores and other career field-specific questions. The first 31 questions were answered during the tweet chat, but in case you missed it, here are all the questions and answers from the chat.

Q1: How similar is the Air Force’s boot camp training compared to the Navy or Marines?
A1: Each branch is different. Here is a link to read about ours: #AsktheAF

Q2: I’m 17-years-old and live in Nigeria. How can I join the USAF?
A2: You must be a legal resident of the U.S., have a valid Visa, and meet all requirements. #AsktheAF

Q3: I don’t get my braces off until most likely next May. Any chance I can enlist now with a date near then? #AsktheAF
A3: You can begin the process when you’re less than a year away from getting your braces off.

Q4: What does it take to become an officer in the reserves? #AsktheAF
A4: Since this is an active duty site, please refer your question to the Air Force Reserve office. #AsktheAF

Q5: Is it possible to join with a history of depression from over five years ago?
A5: That would be up to the doctor at the MEPS (Military Entrance Processing Station) to determine. Please call a recruiter to inquire about having an evaluation done. #AsktheAF

Q6: What can give me a competitive edge to becoming a pilot?
A6: High GPA (grade point average), high pilot or navigators test scores and overall must be highly qualified. Earning a private pilot’s license and a technical degree will increase your chances of being selected.

Q7: Can I be denied to take the pre-ASVAB if I meet the weight requirements to enter the Air Force?
A7: You must be pre-qualified in order for your recruiter to begin any process with you.

Q8: What score do you need to enter the Air Force?
A8: While the minimum score is 36, a score of 50 plus will allow you to continue processing.

Q9: If someone wanted, can they be sent straight to a conflict after training?
A9: Once you get to your first duty station, the earliest you could see deployment would be 60 days.

Q10: If I wanted to be a recruiter, where would I be sent for training?
A10: Training is located at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Tx.

Q11: What’s the best diet or workout to prepare me for BMT?
A11: There’s no set method, but here’s some recommendations:

Q12: As an officer, are we able to still do combat like the enlisted guys?
A12: Yes, all members of the Air Force are eligible to deployment.

Q13: What’s the unit equivalent to the Army’s Delta and the Navy SEALS?
A13: Here is some more information about the Air Force’s Spec Ops units:

Q14: When is the right time to talk to a recruiter?
A14: If you’re interested, there’s no time like the present. Talk to a recruiter once you’re ready.

Q15: There are people with asthma in the military, so if I can pass a respiratory test, could I join the Air Guard?
A15: Since this is an active duty site, please refer your question to the Air Guard

Q16: Apply for an interservice transfer from the Army to USAF as a physician. What do I put on my personal statement? How will it benefit the AF?
A16: Please contact your healthcare professional recruiter for guidance.

Q17: How difficult is it to get a medical waiver for congenital cataracts?
A17: It’s difficult, but the chief medical officer will make that determination.

Q18: Can you tell me anything about what airborne mission system does?
A18: Learn more about airborne mission systems here:

Q19: What is the main reason the Air Force offers such great benefits?
A19: Learn more about the Air Force benefits here:

Q20: What are some current “critical need” jobs in the USAF?
A20: Job demands vary, but placement is based on ASVAB scores, physical, background and credit checks.

Q21: How long does it normally take to book a job and get a ship date in the DEP (Delayed Entry Program)?
A21: It may take three to nine months to book a job, as well as depart to Basic Military Training.

Q22: I’m home schooled. Can I still join the Air Force?
A22: A diploma issued to a graduate of a home school program must meet a variety of requirements, but yes, they can.

Q23: How difficult is it to become a drone operator? Are stresses different for them than other pilots?
A23: Each aspect has their own unique situations, but applicants are assigned an aircraft based on qualifications.

Q24: Does CAP (Civil Air Patrol) roll give me an advantage at being in the Air Force?
A24: Earning the Billy Mitchell, Amelia Earhart, or Carl Spaatz award will give you the advantage of being an E-3.

Q25: What is basic training like?
A25: Learn more about BMT here:

Q26: I leave July 1st for BMT, what should I prepare for BMT?
A26: Learn more about preparing for BMT here:

Q27: Any special requirements for an AFOSI (Air Force Office of Special Investigations) job?
A27: OSI is not an entry level career field. You must apply for it as retraining.

Q28: Would one be better off getting a degree, then joining as an officer or becoming one after enlisted.
A28: That is a personal choice, and would depend on your goals.

Q29: What does the timeline look like after tech school? Will I know where I’ll be going before I graduate?
A29: After BMT you go straight to tech school. You’ll get orders to your first base about two to three weeks before graduating tech school.

Q30: In what ways will graduating BMT with War Hawk benefit me?
A30: You get an award at BMT and more liberties over graduation weekend.

Q31: Where can I go to sign up for the Air Force?
A31: Your local AF recruiter will assist you. Find a recruiter here:

Q32: If your in the DEP program as an enlisted member, can I change it to become an officer?
A32: You must be discharged from the DEP to apply. However, OTS selection boards have been suspended until further notice.

Q33: I’m leaving for BMT and I would like to become an officer sometime in my career. What is the best way to do so?
A33: Get your bachelor degree, get a 3.0 GPA or higher and then apply. Once you meet the requirements, you can apply.

Q34: If my AFSC (Air Force Specialty Code) is going to be security forces, can I still help out at the base chapel?
A34: You can inquire about volunteer work once you arrive at your first base.

Q35: If my husband and I both join, will we be deployed at the same time?
A35: Deployments are based off of the AF’s needs, so you could deploy at the same or different times.

Q36: How does someone get recommended for the PJs (pararescue jumpers)?
A36: Meet requirements and pass the PAST test (Physical Ability and Stamina Test):

Q37: When you go to MEPS do they try and correct your visual acuity to 20/20 or should I get an eye exam before heading to MEPS?
A37: The MEPS cannot correct your visual acuity. You must contact an Ophthalmologist for review.

Q38: How does college credits help you rank coming into the Air Force?
A38: Earning college credits may provide you advanced rank. Please contact an Air Force recruiter.

Q39: What are some of the roles of CROs (combat rescue officer) in deployment today?
A39: You can find out more about a CRO at

Q40: Once you graduate from the USAFA (United States Air Force Academy) and go to UPT (undergraduate pilot training), can you fly with the Guard, or do you have to go to active duty?
A40: If you graduate from USAFA and UPT, you will serve in the active AF. You may transfer or join the Air National Guard after you’ve completed your Military Service Obligation.

Q41: Is BMT really hard?
A41: Each individual has different experiences at Basic Military Training, but it’s not considered easy.

Q42: Is it alright to go to MEPS before I finish High School?
A42: Your Air Force recruiter will schedule you for a MEPS appointment when you meet the requirements to process.

Q43: How can someone switch between branches?
A43: By contacting an Air Force recruiter to determine your qualifications, and to see if the Air Force’s Prior Service Program is accepting applications.

Q44: What can I do to prepare myself for EOD (explosive ordnance disposal)?
A44: You must first contact an Air Force recruiter to determine your qualifications. You can learn more about EOD on

Q45: How difficult is it to become a K-9 handler if you’re in security forces?
A45: Once you have earned your five skill level in security forces, and meet the requirements, you may apply.

Q46: What jobs can you get if you’re mildly colorblind?
A46: Provided you meet vision requirements, your recruiter has a list of jobs which you may qualify for.

Q47: Any specific advantages to flying helicopters in the Air Force, rather than the Army.
A47: After talking with recruiters from each service and establishing your goals, it’s up to you to make that decision. Also, the type of helicopter you want to fly should be considered.

Q48: How long is the average deployment?
A48: Average length of deployment is 120 -180 days, based on mission requirements and the needs of the Air Force.

Q49: What military careers do you have in the Air Force that involve technology?
A49: The Air Force is highly technological, and you can read about all careers on

Q50: Is it better to join through the ROTC due to cutbacks or should I join when I graduate from college?
A50: College ROTC (reserve officer training corp), and applying for OTS (officers training school) are both sources of commissioning, & both are highly competitive. Your choice is a personal decision.

Q51: What kind of job openings could I have with an ASVAB score of 78?
A51: You must also qualify in one of the four aptitude areas; mechanical, administrative, general, or electronics to determine the job you may train and serve in, as well as passing a physical examination.

Q52: Can a non-citizen H4 visa holder join the Air Force?
A52: You must be residing in the U.S. legally and possess an INS Form I-151/551 also known as a “Green Card.” You must also meet the requirements to enlist in the Air Force.

Q53: Do we have proud deaf people in the Air Force?
A53: All individuals serving in the Air Force must meet different frequency hearing requirements, depending upon the job they qualify to train and serve in.

Q54: What is the length of 2A6X1 – aerospace propulsion technical school? I heard it was cut short?
A54: The length of your technical training depends upon the type of aircraft, and engine you will specialize in. Length of training can range from 34-61 days.

Q55: I’m 31 and I got a 77 on the ASVAB. Can I enlist?
A55: You must enlist and be in Basic Military Training prior to your 28th Birthday. Please contact the Air National Guard or Air Force Reserve.

Q56: Can you be a single parent on active duty?
A56: Yes, provided you meet the requirements to enlist in the Air Force. Please see an Air Force recruiter for information and guidance.

Q57: If I didn’t get accepted for an ROTC scholarship, can I still apply for the ROTC classes.
A57: Yes, speak to your guidance counselor regarding college level aerospace science courses.

Q58: If I’m a Lt. Col. in AFJRROTC (Air Force Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps). Is there a possibility of earning the rank of general?
A58: Yes, there is always the possibility of becoming a general in the Air Force, provided you meet all career milestones.

Q59: How long does it take to become a combat controller?
A59: Technical training is approximately 179 days. However, follow-on training, and location, is dependent upon career progression.

Q60: What is life like for an Air Force photographer?
A60: The Air Force provides a quality of life unmatched, to include education, training, travel, and much more.

Q61: Have the two year weather hubs been eliminated for 1W031 (weather observer).
A61: Since this concerns someone already in the Air Force, we recommend you talk to your career functional manager.

Q62: What could a person who was disqualified by MEPS for a high stigmatism do in order for their file to be reactivated for DEP?
A62: You may need a chief medical officer review at the MEPS to provide you an eligibility determination or possibly a waiver. Please contact your AF recruiter for more information and guidance.

Q63: I know I have to serve a four-year enlistment, but how long do I have to serve if I go to AF ROTC in college?
A63: If you are commissioned through AF ROTC, you will incur a four year military service obligation with the U.S. Air Force.

Q64: Is being part of pararescue dangerous?
A64: Any job can be dangerous. However, the training one receives to serve as a pararescueman, always focuses on safety, and the hazards of the job.

Q65: I want to join, but my family doesn’t want me to. What do I do?
A65: It is important that you share your intentions with your family. You may sit down together with an Air Force recruiter, or share with them, so that they are more aware of your goals and ambitions.

Q66: What fighter aircraft are the most new pilots being assigned to?
A66: There is no way of knowing this information as it is ever-changing and based on the needs of the Air Force.

Q67: Do you get paid extra for being stationed at a northern-tiered base?
A67: You are not paid more for being stationed at an Air Force base in the northern United States.

Q68: Do any jobs require being pepper sprayed as part of the training?
A68: Security forces personnel may be exposed to pepper spray for training and awareness.

Q69: Can I take the ASVAB if I’m only 17?
A69: Yes, you can take the ASVAB if you are 17 years of age.

If you have more questions, feel free to ask them during our next Air Force Recruiting tweetchat April 24.