New policy allows families with high schoolers entering senior year to extend until graduation
RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany — Ramstein High School junior Stephen Fohrman can’t wait for senior year.
There’s the prom, homecoming games, class lunches and photos to look forward to. And, of course, Stephen, 16, desperately wants to graduate with his friends, some of whom he has known since grade school.
“These people are like my brothers and sisters,” Stephen said. “It would be hard to let go of people you’ve known for so long.”
But, like many children of military parents, Stephen may not get his wish. His dad, Master Sgt. Jeff Fohrman, already has orders for a tour at Barksdale Air Force Base, La.
Father and son are hoping a new Air Force program may change that. So far, Fohrman is the only Air Force member in the Kaiserslautern area to apply for an extension under the new High School Seniors Assignment Deferment Program, according to Department of Defense Dependents Schools officials.
The program, which started March 26, allows Air Force members overseas to apply for a one-year assignment deferment “to decrease turbulence and increase stability for families with kids entering senior year of high school,” said Chief Master Sgt. Brian Glasgow of the U.S. Air Forces in Europe’s Airmen Assignments Office.
The program is open to all senior master sergeants and below and officers up to the rank of lieutenant colonel.
“It’s an additional boost to take care of people and those folks who have seniors in high school and make sure they stay with their classmates,” said Tech. Sgt. Alex Pitsiaeli, noncommissioned officer in charge of security forces, civil engineer and operations assignments for USAFE.
Fohrman, section chief at the 723rd Air Mobility Squadron, had already applied for an extension but it was denied. Then, his first sergeant told him about the deferment program.
“It’s a very, very new program so I asked if they could still do it and they said ‘sure, you could give it a shot,’” Fohrman said.
Normally, airmen must apply for extensions about 13 months before their permanent change of station date and that’s the way the new policy works, too, Glasgow said. He said Fohrman’s request will be considered, but it would be considered an exception to the policy.
“The policy is effective March 26. It’s not retroactive,” Glasgow said. Families with students graduating in 2006 will likely be the first to benefit from the program, he said.
“Each request will be handled on a case-by-case basis. The Air Force goal is approving as many requests as possible. But mission needs come first,” Glasgow said.
Fohrman is keeping his fingers crossed just the same.
“Hopefully it will go through. I don’t know. But I can only try,” he said.
Stephen said he’s aware that his father’s request might not be approved.
“We’re kind of on the edge, depending on what they do,” he said. “They may save me from falling off the edge. I don’t want to fall off that cliff.”
Fohrman, whose father was in the Army, said he remembers how tough it was moving from school to school. He hopes Stephen will get the chance he didn’t get to finish school with the kids he knows best.
“His whole high school has been at Ramstein,” Fohrman said of his son. “What kid wouldn’t want to graduate with his friends?”
New Air Force Assignment Deferment Program
The High School Seniors Assignment Deferment Program allows Air Force members to apply for a one-year assignment deferment to allow their children to graduate from the high school they are currently attending.
The Air Force Personnel Center started the policy March 26. It is open to all senior master sergeants and below and officers up to the rank of lieutenant colonel. The Air Force Senior Leadership Management Office is considering a similar program for senior officers and chief master sergeants.
For more information on the new program, refer to Military Personnel Flight Memorandum 04-18. The memo is available at each unit’s Military Personnel Flight.
— Source: U.S. Air Forces in Europe Airmen Assignments office.