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Personnel Going Virtual.

Imagine receiving an e-mail notification that it's time to re-enlist. You complete and submit your Department of Defense Form 4 from home that evening. The next morning your supervisor reviews, electronically signs, and forwards it to your unit commander. After re-enlistment, your commander electronically signs and sends it to the Air Force Personnel Center through the personnel data system.

And you didn't have to stand in line at the military personnel flight to complete your re-enlistment.

Sound too good to be true? Welcome to the virtual military personnel flight.

Although this system currently offers limited services, officials anticipate this and as many as 300 other applications will be available online within the next 18 months.

"We've taken the Air Force instructions and put everything a person needs to know into this Web-based service program," said Capt. William Conley, operations officer in the field activities division at the Personnel Center, Randolph Air Force Base, Texas. "Individuals no longer need to rely solely on the MPF technicians to explain these programs. They can get all the information off the Web."

The virtual service will ease the need for people to spend time in line to pick up applications, he said. "Everyone now has the opportunity to complete applications at work or home and only report to the MPF to drop them off.

"Not only is this a convenience for customers, but the technology really improves customer service by streamlining the process and standardizing services," Captain Conley said.

Personal surfing allowed

One service recently launched is the personal data surf capability. This allows people to review everything from individual and performance report data to duty assignment and qualification data. These are items they normally review on their "records review rip."

"Although all changes must be made through the MPF at this point, we are working towards programs that will allow customers to update data over the Web," Captain Conley said.

Capt. John Kubinec, munitions flight commander in the 8th Maintenance Squadron, Kunsan Air Base, South Korea, liked that he was able to access his personnel information at his convenience.

"Although I couldn't fix the problems, at least I know the problems exist," he said.

By the time the virtual system reaches full operation, there will be many "push-pull" capabilities allowing members to update information directly to the database, saving a trip to the MPF. Personnel officials expect gradual start up, with additional services available each quarter.

Capt. Robert Vercher, emergency war order instructor, 90th Space Wing, F. E. Warren Air Force Base, Wyo., sees the Internet access to MPF functions as a boon to those in the missile career fields since they often spend half of each month either at the missile sites or traveling to and from the field. [See "Eyeing Montana's Minuteman Missiles," August '00]

"You may work straight for 24 hours, but the MPF has regular business hours," he said.

Captain Kubinec also liked the convenience of having information available online.

"For most of my troops, the duty hours and physical location of the duty section are the biggest hindrances to getting to the MPF," he said. "It takes a concerted effort to go there, [while] the online site can be visited from the duty section on a break or after work."

Guard, Reserve can surf, too

Two installments have been made to the system since its introduction in August. The third upgrade is expected in January 2001 and is geared toward incorporating Guard and Reserve actions. Currently these members can access the Air Reserve Personnel Center Web site for general information. When the newest AFPC upgrades are introduced, they'll be able to access individual information and forms on line as well.

"This is going to be good for the Guard and Reserve," said Senior Master Sgt. Melody Mohigh of the center's distance learning section. "Some of the unit reservists and IMAs [Individual Mobilization Augmentees] in particular are so far away from their home bases. We have some people who live in Australia, and their home base is in Germany, so having this is really going to be a lifesaver for them."

Personnel officials are still determining which services will be available in future upgrades. Some possibilities include interfaces with the Defense Finance and Accounting Service and Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System, high-year-of-tenure queries, and personalized awards and decorations listings.

"By providing the virtual [services], we're making it as user-friendly as possible and focusing on the service member," Captain Conley said. "Our whole goal here is to provide service 24-7."

Those wanting to view programs must create an account by going to the AFPC home page at www.afpc.randolph.af.mil and clicking on the "vMPF" box. For assistance in creating an account or gaining access, call commercial (210) 565-3995, DSN 665-3995, or toll free (800) 6383487.

Want to save a trip to the MPF?

Online services include:

Continental U.S. Isolated Assignment Program -- Allows members to volunteer for stateside isolated assignments or request reassignment from an isolated location.

Join Spouse Assignment Program -- Explains program eligibility and ineligibility requirements documentation and intent codes. Also allows military members married to military members to fill out the join spouse application.

Permissive Permanent Change of Station Assignment Program -- Allows members to get information and apply for the Permissive Join Spouse, Expanded Permissive and CONUS Assignment Exchange Programs.

Sole Surviving Son or Daughter Assignment Restriction -- Allows members to review eligibility, document requirements and examples, and fill out the program application.

Proof of Service -- Allows members to print a proof of service letter, a document needed by the Department of Veteran's Affairs when buying a home.

Initial Separation/Retirement Briefing -- Allows members to complete their initial separation/retirement briefing, and fill out and print all necessary memorandums. Also lists all documents members need before reporting to the military personnel flight.

Dependents Remaining Overseas -- Allows members to generate a memorandum for their command-sponsored dependents to remain in the overseas area if they are being assigned stateside or to a different overseas location.

Designated Location Move -- Allows members to prepare a memorandum to move their foreign-born spouses to a designated location if they are being reassigned to a dependent-restricted overseas location.

Duty History Inquiry -- Allows members to view current and subsequent duty information, to include effective dates, Air Force Specialty Codes, duty titles, etc.

Early Return of Dependents -- Allows members to prepare a memorandum to return their command-sponsored dependents from the overseas area at government expense.

Exceptional Family Member Program -- Allows members to prepare a memorandum to apply for special medical or educational care for dependents at their current or projected duty location.

Humanitarian Reassignment Program -- Allows members to generate a memorandum to apply for reassignment consideration to assist in resolving severe short-term problems that involve a family member.

Overseas Returnee Counseling -- Provides members information needed to assist them in making their date eligible to return from overseas election options.

Re-enlistment Eligibility Inquiry -- Allows members to view their eligibility to re-enlist and whether or not they are eligible for waivers.

Personal Data -- Allows members to access individual data including duty history, promotion, evaluation and assignment information.

More services coming soon

Here's what you'll soon be seeing:

Dynamic Toolbar -- Allows members to see only the applications that apply to them as members on active duty or in the Guard or Reserve.

Proof of Service [*] (Guard and Reserve) -- Allows Guard and Reserve members to print a proof of service letter, a document needed by the Department of Veteran's Affairs when members are trying to buy a home.

Re-enlistment Eligibility Inquiry [*] (Guard and Reserve) -- Allows Guard and Reserve members to view their eligibility to re-enlist and whether or not they are eligible for waivers.

Duty History Inquiry [*] (Guard and Reserve) - Allow Guard and Reserve members to view duty information, to include effective dates, Air Force Specialty Codes, duty titles, etc.

Point Credit Accounting and Reporting System (Guard and Reserve) -- Tracks points earned by Guard and Reserve members for duty served or for attendance in military education. This gives service members 24/7 access to their points, which determines retirement and pay issues.

(*.) Active duty currently have access to these applications -- this upgrade adds Guard and Reserve access.
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No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2000 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Author:Hart, Dawn; Cook, Pamela A. Q.
Publication:Airman
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Dec 1, 2000
Words:1358
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