The Eastern New Mexico News - Serving Clovis, Portales and the Surrounding Communities

Assignment deferment policy extended

 

September 30, 2009



RANDOLPH AIR FORCE BASE, Texas — Air Force officials here announced recent modifications to the post-birth and post-adoption assignment deferment policy will increase the time a parent can delay reporting to certain assignments, re-emphasizing the Air Force’s commitment of taking care of its people.

Birth mothers and adoptive families now have a six-month-deferment period instead of four months before reporting to an assignment, including family-member restricted overseas tours, accompanied overseas tours when concurrent travel was denied, and temporary duty assignments or deployments.

This policy change brings the Air Force in line with its sister services. Only the Navy allows more deferment time, up to 12 months.

The extra two months enables behaviors that can positively impact the family later, said Lt. Col. Leslie Wilson, the chief consultant for maternal-child medicine and pediatrics at the Air Force Medical Operations Agency at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas.

“From a medical perspective, this will give the mother and infant a substantial benefit because it allows for eight additional weeks of breastfeeding, which not only helps build the baby’s immunity system, but it helps the mother return to her pre-pregnancy weight faster, reduces her risk of breast and ovarian cancer, and improves family bonding,” Wilson said.

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, breastfeeding is encouraged for the first year of life and is recommended as the sole source of nutrition for the first six months.

For those adopting a child, the additional time can help the family build the new relationship prior to a geographic separation.

“Behaviors such as listlessness, apathy, refusal to eat and even weight loss have been seen in children of all ages who have a parent away from home station,” Wilson said. “Couple that with all the additional stressors associated with an adoption and it’s reasonable to expect changes in the child’s behavior. Giving the family two more months together can help ease some of the anxiety for this special population.”

Post-adoption deferment can be requested by a single member sponsor or one member of a military couple.

“While a longer deferment period could slightly reduce the pool of airmen available for various assignments, we must keep our site on the health and welfare of our Air Force families. They are a priority,” emphasized Lt. Gen. Richard Y. Newton III, the deputy chief of staff for manpower, personnel and services. “If we have policies that are inadvertently constraining our airmen, we need to take a hard look at them.”

True to the Air Force’s commitment to caring for its families, additional policy changes came in late 2008 when the Air Force implemented paternity leave for married, active-duty fathers whose wife gave birth on or after Oct. 14. The leave authorizes 10 days of non-chargeable leave that can be used in conjunction with ordinary leave.

Now, in the Year of the Air Force Family, the Air Force is focusing on greater improvement of its Caring for People programs, including family support, special-needs children and spouses, Air National Guard and Reserve affairs, deployment support, school support and single airmen support.

For more information on the change to the post-birth/adoption deferment policy, visit Air Force Personnel Center’s “Ask” Web site or call the Total Force Service Center at 800-525-0102 or DSN 665-5000.

 
 

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