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Force-shaping officers can go into Reserve

by 1st Lt. Martha L. Petersante-Gioia
66th Air Base Wing Public Affairs

1/23/2006 - HANSCOM AIR FORCE BASE, Mass. (AFPN) -- "One weekend a month, two weeks a year." This catch phrase has been repeated on television commercials over the years, but for those facing the Air Force's force-shaping initiative, it may soon become a reality.

Joining the Reserve is one option open to those lieutenants affected by force shaping.

The first step for Airmen interested in joining the Air Force Reserve is to schedule a meeting with a Reserve recruiter. The Air Force Reserve offers a variety of opportunities, said Master Sgt. Wanda Murray, the Air Force Reserve recruiter here.

"The Reserve offers two types of programs: unit and individual mobilization augmentee," she said.

In order for officers to join, she said, they first must qualify. Materials needed include the last three officer performance reports, a résumé, medical records and a physical fitness score. Medical records must be reviewed because some medical conditions may disqualify people for the Air Force Reserve, Sergeant Murray said.

If the service member qualifies, he or she must decide which option to pursue: unit or IMA.

The unit option allows servicemembers to select a specific location for assignment. This is a good option for those who know exactly where they want to live, Sergeant Murray said.

"The unit option also will allow personnel to be assigned to both Reserve and active-duty bases."

Another benefit of selecting the unit option is that jobs are readily advertised. However, Sergeant Murray said that being an IMA may allow more flexibility. "Those assigned to a unit often work in a traditional Reserve role, one weekend a month, two weeks a year," she said.

"IMAs don't have that set drill schedule. They work out training and work schedules with their active-duty supervisor. Many units require IMAs to work at least once a quarter.

"The IMA option is designed for those with prior active-duty service under their belts," Sergeant Murray said. "It is a bit more difficult to find a job, as many are not openly advertised."

For those with family or active-duty spouses, the IMA option allows for easy moves and flexibility between stations.

"For example, there are IMA positions in Germany, and other overseas locations," she said

Sergeant Murray encourages those affected by force shaping to contact a Reserve recruiter early.

"I noticed a marked increase in personnel interested in applying to the Reserve," she said. "For those interested in the IMA option, the process can take up to two or three months to find a job opening, apply for the position and find out if you are hired."

A major difference that may allow some servicemembers to continue serving on active-duty is an option to volunteer for active duty assignments worldwide.

"Reservists can volunteer to work more than the minimal days required by drill, serving the time on active duty," she said. "For example, a reservist based out of Westover can search the database, view the rank and job requirements for a specific job and then apply for the active-duty orders. You could apply for a job at Langley Air Force Base, Va., and work there on active duty. This is available to both the officer and enlisted corps."

Transferring within the unit and IMA program is convenient for reservists. In the IMA program, reservists must simply find another unit to work for by calling the area they are going to be moving to. In the unit program, the Air Force Reserve has personnel to assist with transfers.

For those who want the traditional Reservist route but still want to work in the military environment every day, the Reserve has a number of civilian jobs, the sergeant said. These jobs are only available to reservists, and are designed to maintain continuity within Reserve units. A listing of current job opportunities can be found online at www.usajobs.opm.gov.

Resources about employment opportunities, news and resources for employers are available on the web at www.afrc.af.mil.

(Courtesy of Air Force Materiel Command News Service)

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