Are you missing out on leave?

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Melanie Bulow-Gonterman
  • 6th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs
Every month military members earn two and a half days of leave, adding up to a total of 30 days which can be used anytime, mission permitting.

Leave is governed by Congress and is the service member's privilege to take. It ensures the highest level of morale and motivation as well as maintains maximum efficiency.

A lengthy break from the work environment has shown to benefit an individual's psychological and physical status, according to Air Force Instruction 36-3003.

In accordance with AFI 36-3003, if the member begins leave or signs up for space-available travel on a non-duty day, they're on chargeable leave. If the member's work week is Monday through Friday and they return from leave on Saturday, the last day of chargeable leave is Friday. If the member returns the following day, on Sunday, the last day of chargeable leave is Saturday.

Leave in excess of 75 days at the end of the fiscal year must be used or it will be lost without the option of regaining it unless the member is eligible for special leave accrual. Members eligible for SLA are those incapable of taking their excess leave due to deployments or other job requirements that may hinder one from taking leave.

The AFI 36-3003 states that until September 30, 2015, a member who serves on active duty while entitled to hostile fire/imminent danger pay for a continuous period of at least 120 days are authorized to retain such leave (not to exceed 120 days) until the end of the fourth fiscal year following the fiscal year in which the duty assignment in terminated. After September 30, 2015, members may only retain leave until the third fiscal year following, unless Congress further extends this provision.

However, it is possible to get lost leave back! In accordance with AFI 36-3003, members not eligible for SLA can request recovery of days lost on 1 Oct by submitting Department of Defense Form 149, Application for Correction of Military Record under the Provisions of Title 10, U.S. Code, Section 1552. See AFI 36-2603, Air Force Board for Correction of Military Records.

Naturally, the mission priorities may trump leave at certain times.

A member can be recalled from leave by their unit commander at any time due to military necessity. If this should occur, and one has been on leave for three days or less leave will not be charged for the period of absence as leave.

No matter what type of leave is taken, members should always use operational risk management to assess all hazards and control risks prior to excessive or hazardous travel, especially by automobile. Refer to AFI 90-901, Operational Risk Management for further guidance as a comprehensive ORM assessment may reveal that travel plans are high risk and may need to be changed or revised for the safety of the individual.

Taking advantage of leave throughout the year it highly encouraged, as serving this great country can be both mentally and physically demanding. Taking leave could be just what the member needs to recharge and decompress.

You and your supervisor should carefully review Air Force Guidance Memorandum and AFI 36-3003, Military Leave Program, before finalizing any type of leave request to ensure that you are not being over charged as well as in complete compliance with Air Force regulations.