Airmen in eight medical career fields are a few days away from losing their eligibility to receive tens of thousands of dollars in re-enlistment bonuses.
Unlike last February, when the Air Force dropped or reduced bonuses for dozens of career fields, there will be no 30-day eligibility extension giving those airmen time to consider whether to re-enlist and still get the bonus.
The Air Force Personnel Center on Wednesday posted the latest selective retention bonus list for fiscal 2019, which will take effect July 3. It drops eight medical Air Force Specialty Codes entirely: 4A2X1 biomedical equipment, 4J0X2 physical medicine, 4N0X1B aerospace medical services-neurodiagnostic medical tech, 4R0X1A diagnostic imaging-nuclear medicine, 4R0X1C diagnostic imaging-magnetic resonance imaging, 4T0X1 medical lab, 4T0X2 histopathology, and 4Y0X2 dental lab.
Experienced airmen in a ninth AFSC, 4N1X1B urologists, with 10 to 14 years or 18 to 20 years in the Air Force will also lose their bonus eligibility, though urologists with 17 months to 10 years will remain eligible.
The Air Force in February 2018 cut SRBs entirely for 17 career fields, and reduced them for 19 more. But at that time, the service also made a change, and gave airmen in those jobs 30 days to re-enlist and receive their higher bonus.
For a while, this was standard practice in the Air Force. But in 2013, the Air Force began putting SRB changes into effect immediately or nearly immediately after their announcement. This caught some airmen by surprise, and meant they missed out on some or all of the bonus they could have received had they had more warning.
When the Air Force briefly restored that grace period last year, a spokeswoman said it was intended to give airmen more time and flexibility to make decisions affecting their career.
The Air Force has not yet said why it has not included a 30-day window this time.
The unofficial Facebook page Air Force amn/nco/snco, which first pointed out the lack of a grace period on Thursday, cried foul at the change and its timing — going into the July 4 holiday week, when many airmen will be on leave.
And the amn/nco/snco page, which advocates for airmen, called on the Air Force to restore the 30 day window.
“Not only is [granting a 30-day window] the right thing to do, but also will not require them to scramble to [military personnel offices] the day before July 4, as they also picked the day before Independence Day for these people to be screwed by,” the page said.
The Air Force regularly offers these bonuses, which can be as much as $100,000, to encourage skilled airmen in critical career fields to stay in uniform. Airmen in 107 career fields are now eligible for the bonuses. Jobs such as tactical air control party, pararescue, combat control, airborne crypto language analyst, special reconnaissance and explosive ordnance disposal are eligible to receive the largest bonuses.
The Air Force calculates the bonuses by multiplying one month of an airman’s salary, by the number of years the airman is reenlisting, by a multiplier that is specific to the career field and number of years of service.
Stephen Losey covers leadership and personnel issues as the senior reporter for Air Force Times. He comes from an Air Force family, and his investigative reports have won awards from the Society of Professional Journalists. He has traveled to the Middle East to cover Air Force operations against the Islamic State.