Defense bill approves more benefits, people
/ Published November 02, 2009
WASHINGTON -- The National Defense Authorization Act for 2010, signed into law Oct. 28 by President Barack Obama, authorizes a variety of pay and benefits for Air Force reservists.
A military pay raise of 3.4 percent across the board starts Jan. 1, 2010.
The bill also increases the end strength of Air Force reservists in the Selected Reserve from 67,400 in 2009 to 69,500 in 2010. The full-time force also grows. Active Guard and Reserve reservists increase from 2,733 to 2,896, and dual-status air reserve technicians go from 10,003 to 10,417.
The bill authorizes $112 million for the Air Force Reserve for military construction projects. The amount includes $55 million for unspecified major construction projects.
In addition to the pay hike, the bill includes extensions to the following benefits:
- Temporary increase of 75 days of leave a military member may carry over to the next year from Dec. 31, 2010, to Sept. 30, 2013.
- Enlistment and re-enlistment bonuses through Dec. 31, 2010.
- Authority for certain Selected Reserve health care professionals in critically short wartime specialties to receive repayment of educational loans and special pay until Dec. 31, 2010.
Another provision allows the service secretaries to continue to pay monthly special pay of $500 for any month between Oct. 1, 2009, and June 30, 2011, to people serving on active duty because their enlistment or period of obligated service is extended or their eligibility for retirement is suspended. Keeping people on active duty in this manner is commonly known as Stop Loss.
Air Force reservists will receive better health benefits for serving on active duty in support of a contingency. The bill authorizes full Tricare Prime coverage 180 days before serving on active duty in support of a contingency.
The new law updates a previous statute so reservists on orders in support of a contingency for 30 days or more receive the same priority for dental care as Airmen in the Regular Air Force.
Another new benefit is Tricare Standard coverage for retired reservists who are under 60 and not receiving military retirement pay. Commonly referred to as gray-area retirees, these former reservists would pay a monthly premium for individual coverage and a higher monthly premium for family coverage until they begin drawing retirement pay at age 60.
Under the new law, service secretaries can allow reservists who have been recalled back to active status in the Selected Reserve for two years or more to have their retirement pay recomputed and to receive retirement grade adjustments.
The law also permits the services to give reservists the option to choose a reserve or an active-duty retirement if they are eligible for an active-duty retirement and have served in an active status for at least two years in the Selected Reserve after becoming retirement eligible.
Another provision of the act repeals the National Security Personnel System. The act directs the secretary of defense to begin dismantling the system within six months and to convert all Department of Defense civilian employees back to the former statutory pay system by Jan. 1, 2012.
People can learn more about how the authorization act affects the Air Force Reserve Command by logging onto the Air Force Portal under the AF/RE chief of Air Force Reserve page. (Air Force Reserve Command News Service)