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MILITARY PAY RAISES: By law, military pay raises are set at .5% below the Employment Cost Index (ECI) published by the Department of Labor.  However, the FY00 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) changed the law to allow military pay raises to be set at .5% above the ECI through the year 2006. See Military Pay Charts for more information.

 SPECIAL AND INCENTIVE PAYS: Air Force members are entitled to selective reenlistment bonuses, enlistment bonuses, continuation bonuses, accession bonuses, proficiency pays, career incentive pays, deployment pays, hazardous duty pays, and other special pays depending on specific qualifications. See Military Pay Charts for more information

 TAX ADVANTAGE: Military personnel receive additional compensation since some allowances are not taxable.  These include Basic Allowance for Subsistence (BAS), Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH), Overseas Housing Allowance (OHA), Cost-of-Living Allowance (COLA), and Family Separation Allowance (FSA). Federal income tax is calculated using the standard deduction rates. See Military Pay Charts for more information

 RETIREMENT: Individuals are typically retirement eligible upon completing 20 years of service.  For complete details, see Understanding Military Retired Pay.

THRIFT SAVINGS PLAN (TSP): Effective 2002, military members will be able to contribute to the popular TSP which federal civilian employees currently enjoy.  This will provide military members a 401(k)-like savings plan, which allows members to accumulate long-term, tax-deferred savings and earnings, with which they will be able to supplement future retirement income.

LEAVE: Accumulates 2.5 days leave per month (30 days of leave with pay each year) which can be carried forward (maximum of 60 days) into the next fiscal year.

SURVIVOR BENEFITS.  All pay stops when a member dies.  However, if the member dies while on active duty with 20 or more years of service, the surviving spouse and children are automatically protected by the Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP)--at no cost to the member.  The surviving spouse will get an annuity equal to the difference between the dependency and indemnity compensation (DIC) payment and the SBP payment that would be paid had the member been retired on the date of his death.  To determine the amount of the SBP, the maximum applicable rate of retired pay that would be due the member would be used. 

SERVICEMEMBERS' GROUP LIFE INSURANCE: Inexpensive insurance--$250,000 at $20 per month ($0.80/$10,000 of coverage).

EDUCATION: The Air Force currently pays 100 percent of tuition, within certain limitations. See Air Force Tuition Assistance for more information. .

 COMMISSIONING PROGRAMS: There are many avenues to pursue for those interested in a commission.  Officer Training School (OTS), Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps (AFROTC) scholarship programs, and Airman Education and Commissioning Program (AECP) are some of the many programs available.  Additionally, AFROTC recently implemented a 1-year Professional Officer Corps (POC) program that allows enlisted personnel who are within one year of completing baccalaureate requirements, the opportunity to apply to ROTC.

 MONTGOMERY GI BILL (MGIB): Individuals entering the Air Force after 1 Jul 85 are automatically enrolled in the MGIB, unless they disenroll in recruit training.  The MGIB requires a $100 a month nontaxable pay reduction for the first full 12 months of active duty.  For complete details, see the Active Duty MGIB Article.

 SCHOLARSHIPS: Many scholarships are available for both military members and their families.  Eagle Grants are also available for CCAF graduates who are pursuing a bachelor's degree.  Grants range from $250 to $500 and may be used in conjunction with Tuition Assistance.  Military spouses’ organizations also offer scholarship opportunities.

 VOCATIONAL TRAINING OPPORTUNITIES: There are training opportunities, both formal training associated with AFSC and various classes related to personal enhancement (PME, computer classes, management training).

 CAREER BROADENING OPPORTUNITIES: Special Duty Assignments, Retraining, Overseas Duty, Contingency TDYs, etc.

 PROMOTION OPPORTUNITY: Our system is fair, impartial, visible, understandable, and provides equal selection opportunity to all eligibles.   For complete information, see Air Force Enlisted Promotions, Simplified.

 FAMILY SUPPORT CENTERS: The Air Force realizes there is a direct relationship between a member’s ability to successfully accomplish a mission and the quality of life that his/her family experiences.  Because of this relationship, many programs are offered through the base Family Support Center to promote a positive family and community environment.  The Family Support Center offers a Transition Assistance Program for those separating/retiring from the Air Force, an extensive Relocation Assistance Program that includes a Smooth Move program to prepare those who will PCS and a base newcomers tour.  The family services program offers a loan locker, which includes pots, pans, cribs, and other household items available for checkout to relocating members and their families.  The volunteer resource office maintains a list of agencies accepting volunteers and a list of those wishing to volunteer.  The family life program offers classes in parenting, couples communication, stress management, and a host of other family-related courses.  The family readiness program prepares families for the stress of deployments, NEOs, and repatriations.  Emergency financial assistance is available through the Air Force Aid office, and the Personal Financial Management Program offers information, education, and personal financial counseling on the full range of financial issues.  FSCs are the first stop on base for information and referral services for all individual and family issue.  In addition to these traditional Family Support Center programs, the Air Force has a comprehensive community We-site at www.afcrossroads.com.   Crossroads provides our military members and their families access to a wide range of resources from information on 300+ DoD Installations to a spouse forum, secure and monitored teen forum and spouse employment web-site with exclusive access to jobs for our AF Family members.

 MEDICAL AND DENTAL: In 1999, an estimated 43 million Americans (approximately 18%) did not have health insurance.  Those that have insurance pay an average premium of $205 a month or $2,460 a year ($470 a month or $5,646 a year for a family of two or more).  These premiums do not take into account the cost-shares and deductibles often required in civilian plans.  As an active duty member, the military provides you and your family with comprehensive medical care.  TRICARE is the name of the Department of Defense’s regional managed health care program.  Under TRICARE, there are three health plan options: TRICARE Prime (which covers all active duty members and those family members that choose to enroll in this HMO-style plan); TRICARE Standard (an indemnity plan formally called CHAMPUS) and TRICARE Extra (a Preferred Provider Organization plan).  Under TRICARE Prime, you will have an assigned military or civilian primary care manager who will oversee all aspects of your care, including referrals to specialists.  As of 1 Oct 2001, active duty families that enroll in Prime will have no deductibles, cost-shares, or co-payments except for a nominal co-payment for prescriptions filled outside the military treatment facility (MTF).  In addition to providing top quality health care, the TRICARE Prime program also guarantees access for all your health needs: urgent appointments available within 24 hours, routine appointments within seven days and referral for specialty care within 30 days.  Emergency care is offered 24 hours a day.  TRICARE Prime also includes preventative health screening services such as periodic eye examinations, mammograms, cholesterol screening and a health risk assessment appraisal that many civilian health plans do not cover.  TRICARE Standard offers more choice of providers, but requires an annual $50 deductible per person or $300 per family (E-1 to E-4: $50 per person or $100 per family) plus a 20% cost-share for outpatient care and an $11/day charge for inpatient care.  TRICARE Extra offers the same as Standard, but if you elect to use a Prime network provider, the outpatient visit cost-share is only 15%.  Even after retirement, TRICARE Prime is available to all retirees under age 65 for a minimal enrollment fee of $230 or $460 for a family plan per year, a fraction of the cost in the civilian sector.  And recent legislation, known as TRICARE for Life, has expanded benefits for retirees over age 65 (Medicare eligible).

 While the Air Force Medical Service can provide free dental care for all active duty members, we do not have the staff to see all family members.  Dental health insurance is available for family members through the TRICARE Dental Program (TDP).  Monthly TDP premiums are cost-shared by the Department of Defense (i.e., government pays 60% and the sponsor pays 40%).  The sponsor’s monthly premium payment is about $8 when a single-family member is enrolled and about $20 for two or more enrolled family members.  Basic preventative services are covered at 100%; the plan pays 50-80% of the cost of certain specialized services such as restorations, orthodontics, and prosthodontics.  In addition, costs shares for other specialty care (periodontic, endodontic and oral surgery) are lower for E-1s to E-4s.

 COMMISSARY: Provides 29 percent savings over commercial purchases (based on 2000 Market Basket Survey).

 BASE EXCHANGE: "We Go Where You Go" is the motto of AAFES.  For more than 105 years, the exchange service has remained true to its commitment to Value, Service, and Support for the military customer and their families worldwide.  AAFES helps you in two principal ways.  First is its guarantee to "meet or beat" any retailer's price on the same item (under $5, no questions asked, over $5, within 30 days of the retailers advertisement).  Second, profits are used to support the Services' morale, welfare, and recreation programs.  And now, AAFES offers 24/7 convenience through its new website: www.aafes.com.

 BASE FACILITIES/SERVICES: Includes the base fitness center, health and wellness center, golf course, family housing, child development center, skills development center, auto skills, aero club, community centers, swimming pool, enlisted club, intramural sports, bowling center, library, chapel, youth center, outdoor recreation, base exchange, commissaries and discounts on special events/off-base recreation areas through Information, Ticket and Tours.

 CHILD CARE: Child Development Centers offer care for children 0-5 years of age.  Air Force licensed family childcare is available at most installations and is certified by the Department of Defense accredited by the National Association for the Education of Young Children.  Fees are based on total family income.   Before and after school programs are also offered as part of our Youth Programs. 

 SPACE AVAILABLE TRAVEL: Eligible for travel aboard military aircraft worldwide.  Families are eligible for space available travel outside the CONUS.

 LEGAL ASSISTANCE: The base Legal Assistance Office will assist with preparing wills, powers of attorney, and provide advice on domestic relations problems, contracts, civil rights, and tax problems.

 VA HOME LOANS: May be eligible for home loans through the Veterans Administration.


Family Separation Allowance (FSA)

Dislocation allowance

Transportation for dependents on duty changes

Shipment of household goods overseas and in the United States

Schooling for dependents overseas and at some CONUS bases

Station housing and cost of living allowances at many locations

Travel allowance for POV pickup/delivery at port

Storage of POV when PCSing to POV restricted area

Reimbursement of Pet Quarantine Fees


Emergency leave with priority on military aircraft

Humanitarian reassignment

Permissive reassignment

Exceptional Family Member Program (EFMP)

Air Force Aid Society

Information Courtesy of United States Air Force


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