Active-duty and some reserve officers who are slated to deploy could have their retirements denied — or delayed — under a newly updated “stop loss” provision, according to a recent change to the Air Force’s retirement rules.The Sept. 18 update to Air Force Instruction 36-3203, which governs retirements, changes the criteria by which the Air Force can stop airmen from retiring. A footnote to a rewritten section of Table 2.1 specifically invokes stop loss for some airmen who are officially tasked to deploy, or who have applied for retirement on or after their assignment selection date or notification of a 365-day extended deployment.
This is nothing new. When my dad requested retirement at 31 years of service in 1976, the Navy didn’t have a suitable officer to replace him in his role as Chief of Staff at COMMATVAQWINGPAC, and so denied him retirement for another 18 months.
Mind you, there’s no benefit for a Captain to remain on active duty past 30 years. Your retirement pay does not increase. And by being denied retirement, you’re also cutting into potential years of civilian employment.*
But what it appears to be in this Air Force directive is simply that if you’re trying to retire to skate out of a year long deployment, the Air Force is not going to play along. One final sacrifice is required.
One suspects this will not impact a huge number of officers. Is it painful? Yes. But nobody ever said the service was all skittles and beer.
*In fact, dad never took up a civilian career after service due to familial obligations.