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August Shirt Blast

U.S. Air Force Senior Master Sgt. Alex Gross, the first sergeant assigned to the 169th Fighetr Wing, at McEntire Joint National Guard Base, S.C, March 2, 2018. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Senior Airman Megan Floyd)

U.S. Air Force Senior Master Sgt. Alex Gross, the first sergeant assigned to the 169th Fighetr Wing, at McEntire Joint National Guard Base, S.C, March 2, 2018. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Senior Airman Megan Floyd)

MCENTIRE JOINT NATIONAL GUARD BASE, S.C. --

Hello Swamp Foxes and welcome to August Drill! As many of us get ready for global travel (Compliments of Uncle Sam) there’s no better time to think about benefits! Yes, I’m talking about deployments. The time to think about what benefits are available to you is before you go versus during or after. This month I’m going back to a previous article and touch on two little known benefits that deploying federal employees are entitled to. This applies to ALL federal employees. I know the benefits below may not affect everyone, but everyone knows someone they affect. If you deployed since 2009 and didn't get these benefits; not to worry! You can still go back and request them, I did. Additionally, if you are not a federal employee, check with your HR section to see what types of benefits your company offers. These benefits were modeled after private sector companies and municipalities like Boeing and first responders.

The first entitlement affects just about every federal employee that deploys for Guard or Reserve components. It entitles the member serving to an additional 22 days (176 hours) per calendar year of military leave; with a twist. The additional military leave can only be applied to non-pay status portions of your time card, such as military leave without pay or LWOP-US (KG). The twist is that it is not a pay entitlement. The benefit essentially puts you in a pay status and allows you to earn benefits such as annual leave and sick leave. Since it goes by calendar year, you can receive more than 22 days for a single deployment. For example, deploying in October and returning in April could result in up to 44 days (352 hours) of additional military leave! That’s up to 176 hours for the calendar year you deploy in and 176 hours for the calendar year you returned in. To put that in perspective, that could yield up to 8.8 hours in sick leave if you don’t cross calendar years or 17.6 hours if you do. For annual leave, it depends on how much annual leave you earn per pay period, 4, 6, or 8 hours. Respectively, that would be up to 8.8, 13.2, or 17.6 hours of annual leave earned if you don’t cross calendar years and 17.6, 26.4, or 35.2 hours if you do. Below is a chart to help explain it:

Law Enforcement Leave

This is potentially weeks of leave accrual you don’t want to miss out on! To receive the benefit, you’ll need to work with the HRO and CivPay office that covers your civilian job since this is a federal employee benefit, not a military entitlement. Speak with them before you leave so you understand the process. When you get back, you’ll want to reengage with them on the process and complete the paperwork. They would then need to submit a CMS ticket (or equivalent for your agency) with DFAS (or whoever is over your agency's pay system) requesting the retroactive earnings. In the ticket, they would need to include your LESs, orders, travel voucher, and time-periods you'd like covered. Below are all the references you might need for the additional military leave portion.

https://www.opm.gov/policy-data-oversight/pay-leave/pay-administration/fact-sheets/military-leave/

https://www.dfas.mil/civilianemployees/militaryservice/militaryleave.html

The second entitlement is Reservist Differential pay; this is a separate entitlement for civil servants that covers the entire period of the deployment order. Similar to the above benefit, it can only be used for periods you were in a non-pay status for your civilian position. Contrary to the above, it does involve additional pay. The goal is to keep civilian employees from being paid less in their military role than in their civilian role. A differential occurs if your civilian pay is higher than your military pay (to include entitlements such as BAH, FSA, danger pay, etc). In these cases, you are entitled to the difference from your civilian agency. This may not affect many technicians since most technicians will make more in a military status than civilian status, but it is worth the time to check. To receive the benefit, you need to work with the HRO and CivPay office that covers your civilian job. Speak with them before you leave so you understand the process. When you get back, you’ll want to reengage with them on the process and complete the paperwork. They would then need to submit a CMS ticket (or equivalent for your agency) with DFAS (or whoever is over your agency's pay system) requesting the retroactive earnings. In the ticket, they would need to include your LESs, orders, travel voucher, and time-periods you'd like covered. You may also be required to fill out a spreadsheet or other document to calculate the differential. Below is a link to the nuts and bolts of the program. 

https://www.opm.gov/policy-data-oversight/pay-leave/pay-administration/#url=Reservist-Differential

I hope this has been helpful; please share this topic with your peers, supervisors, and subordinates, you never know who it could help. Remember, many companies and municipalities offer very similar benefits; so even if you’re not a federal employee, check with your HR to see if your company has any policies like the ones above. Thanks for your time and all you do!