News: Part time blue, full time you: From active-duty to Air Guard
Story by Airman 1st Class Katrina Heikkinen
GREAT FALLS, Mont. - With recent changes to career job reservations and fiscal 2013 Enlisted Voluntary Force Management Programs, it is imperative for airmen to consider their future time spent in the service. Master Sgt. Shane Schwendiman, Air National Guard in-service recruiter stationed out of McChord Air Force Base, Wash., visited Malmstrom to educate airmen on the Palace Chase and Palace Front programs during a brief at the Education and Training Center, May 16.
Schwendiman assists airmen from McChord, Fairchild, Kadena, Yokota, Misawa and Malmstrom Air Force Bases, in transitioning into the Air National Guard or the Air Force Reserves, anywhere in the United States.
Palace Chase and Palace Front
Palace Chase is an early release program for airmen wishing to leave active-duty early by transitioning into the Guard or the Reserves. After approval, airmen are required to serve double the time left on their active-duty commitment. The approval process is dependent on the Air Force’s manning in the specific Air Force Specialty Code, and is approved or disapproved by the airman’s functional manager.
Palace Front is for those who have already completed their first term. The Palace Front program is not an application through Air Force Personnel Center, so Air Force manning does not apply. With Palace Front, the airman will have a career lined up prior to their separation so they can transition into the Air Guard without a break in service. Airmen can re-apply every 120 days from their declination date if they were declined due to manning and there are no limits to the number of times one may apply up until six months before their date of separation.
In addition to AFSC manning, approval rate is based on some of the following factors. airmen must:
• Not be on a control roster
• Pass the Air Force fitness assessment with a score of at least 75
• Not be on a physical profile
• First-term airmen must complete at least half of their initial enlistment, but can apply six months before their halfway mark
Reserves vs. Guard
After the Palace Chase or Palace Front approval process, Schwendiman works with airmen to assist them in choosing their location, AFSC opening or cross-training vacancies.
Although similar in mission and benefits, airmen may be stressed out or confused when making their choice of which service to join when transitioning out of the active-duty force.
“Both the Reserves and Air Guard are federally funded, support the Air Force mission and are able to deploy all over the world,” Schwendiman said. “The main difference between the two is that the Air Guard has a dual role mission that in addition to the federal mission, serves as a state asset to assist in natural disasters and emergencies. The Air Guard is located in all 50 states and U.S. territories.”
In both the Guard and Reserves, airmen are obligated to work one weekend a month and two weeks a year. Airmen may be relieved to know that they can opt to switch services after their transition.
“I always encourage everyone to check out both options because both are great services, and the benefits are pretty much the same,” Schwendiman said. “The decision is often determined by which service has the most convenient location or available AFSC [the airman] desires. An important thing to know is that there’s no residency requirements – airmen can live in one state and serve in another state, and it’s always easy to move around. We understand that society today is very mobile, and we accommodate that by giving airmen the opportunity to serve where they choose and the ability to transfer when needed.”
In addition to part-time positions, there are full-time positions available as well. These require an application and interview process for selection. One benefit of the Active Guard Reserve program is that one has all the benefits of active-duty without getting PCS’d. The only way airmen can have a guaranteed full-time position is if they’re hired before separation.
“Active-duty is great – there are a lot of great benefits including free healthcare and the AD retirement,” Schwendiman said. “Some airmen come into my office and think the grass is always greener, like I thought when I got out of active duty. But it’s always important to weigh your options before you get out. The way the Air Force is now, if you get out, chances are you’re not going to be able to get back in. But if someone does want to get out, [the Reserves or Air Guard] are good options. It’s a great way to balance military obligations while pursuing civilian goals at the same time, while being able to keep many of their active-duty benefits including health care and retirement.”
For more information on the Air National Guard, visit www.goange.com. For more information on the Air Force Reserves, visit www.afreserve.com. To apply for Palace Chase, visit https://gum-crm.csd.disa.mil/app/answers/detail/a_id/22708, https://gum-crm.csd.disa.mil/app/answers/detail/a_id/22708, and call Master Sgt. Shane Schwendiman at (253)-982-9710 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.