Air Force Military Personnel Center officials have set up a control center that can explain how the "Stop-Loss" program applies to the nearly 11,000 people previously approved to retire or separate from active duty between Oct. 2 and April 30.
Experts at the Stop-Loss Control Center are answering questions about retirements and separations for personnel flights, commanders and individuals who have specific Stop-Loss questions.
Stop-Loss, which became effective Oct. 2, gives military service secretaries authority to keep on active-duty people who would normally be planning to retire or leave the service.
More than 11,000 people have received approved separation or retirement dates between Oct. 2 and April 30, officials said. There are 926 officers and 4,593 enlisted people with approved retirement dates that are now held by Stop-Loss action; and 1,256 officers and 4,741 enlisted who have approved separation dates through the end of April.
Those numbers may include some who are exempt from Stop-Loss as previously announced.
"So far, the attitude of the callers is impressive -- we're not hearing from a lot of angry people," said Master Sgt. Mike Potter, AFPC superintendent of retirements. "People are concerned, but not angry."
AFPC's separations branch primary role is to assist and advise major commands' personnel staffs and military personnel flights in the execution of the Stop-Loss program, said Lt. Col. Rich Binger, AFPC separations branch chief.
"But we are also here to help those affected by Stop Loss," he said. "We will work hand-in-hand with the (military personnel flight) retirements and separations sections to help people get the answers they need."
Local personnel flights will continue processing retirements and separations actions and are the first place to turn for those with Stop-Loss questions, Binger said.
At first, people in every Air Force specialty code are prevented from leaving active duty in this Stop-Loss action, Binger said.
During the first 30 days, major command, personnel officials and career field managers are matching warfighting needs with the possibility that some career field Stop-Loss restrictions could be lifted.
"But, obviously, operational needs will be the first priority," Binger said.
Waiver applications are also being accepted and will be evaluated individually by MAJCOM commanders, according to officials.
Some of those already far enough along in the process of leaving the Air Force are being allowed to outprocess.
"We learned a lot from our Kosovo Stop Loss effort," said Lt. Col. Michael Maloney, AFPC retirements and separations division chief. "We've tried, this time, to address a lot of the issues that came up last time right up front.
Although all new departures from the Air Force are on hold, there are exemptions for people serving an overseas unaccompanied assignment where the tour length is 15 months or less, and who will retire or separate upon tour completion.
Other categories of people exempt are those undergoing involuntary discharge, or mandatory separation or retirement because of disabilities or hardships, officials said.
So far, Stop-Loss will not affect promotions, permanent change-of-station moves or training class schedules, officials said.
"Every effort will be made to ensure that once Stop-Loss ends, everyone has the flexibility in making the transition to civilian life," Maloney said.
This is the first time since the air war over Kosovo that this emergency authority has been implemented.
Based on the numerous calls received thus far, the control center staff has put together a list of frequently asked questions and answers.
Military personnel flights or commander's support staffs, as well as interested individuals, can reach the control center at (210) 565-2374 or DSN 665-2374 daily 6 a.m. to 6 p.m., CDT.