Pacific edition, Thursday, June 21, 2007

MISAWA AIR BASE, Japan — Some teenagers at U.S. military bases in the Pacific will find it tough to earn a wage this summer.

Dwindling budgets have sunk the summer job market for high school and college students at U.S. Air Force bases in Japan, though other bases are hiring teens for summer employment.

Citing fiscal reasons, Yokota Air Base near Tokyo, Kadena Air Base on Okinawa and Misawa Air Base in northern Japan are not funding summer hire programs.

“Due to severe budget constraints for this fiscal year, the 35th Fighter Wing does not have a summer hire program for 2007,” said Maj. Brian Schooley, 35th Mission Support Squadron commander, in a written statement.

Schooley said the entire Air Force was affected by a civilian pay funding shortfall, which resulted in a temporary hiring freeze.

“The shortfall also forced individual wings to tightly manage existing funds,” he wrote. “All areas were carefully scrutinized to effectively manage the smaller civilian pay threshold, and unfortunately, the summer hire program was a casualty to the budget.”

Misawa, Kadena and Yokota funded summer jobs last year with nonappropriated funds. Students worked for various military agencies, such as public affairs, services, civil engineering and the hospital. The summer hire wage for students overseas is $5 an hour, typically for 20 hours of work per week.

At Misawa last summer, 90 teens were employed — a smaller figure than in 2004 and 2005, Schooley said.

In 2006, Kadena filled 124 summer hire jobs, officials said, noting that the program is locally controlled and based on local funds availability.

“We know the program provides an opportunity to learn or strengthen valuable work skills and enables them to contribute to the Kadena mission,” said Gary Stewart, chief of affirmative employment for the 18th Wing Civilian Personnel Office, in a written response to Stars and Stripes. “With that said, we hope we are able to offer the program next year.”

Unlike Air Force bases in Japan, Osan Air Base in South Korea is funding 50 jobs throughout the summer as part of its summer hire program, according to 2nd Lt. Kim Schaerdel, Osan spokeswoman. She noted that this year’s program was not affected by budget constraints.

The summer hire program at Navy bases in Japan also continues to be vibrant.

“We didn’t scale back this year,” said Sarah Overstreet, Commander, Naval Forces Japan regional human resources director. Navy bases in Japan have 103 positions for this year’s program, she said, with students reporting for work on June 25.

Army bases in the Pacific also are funding summer hire programs, though in South Korea, 8th Army’s has been scaled back due to budget constraints, according to 8th Army spokesman Maj. Jerome Pionk. He said 150 students were employed last year, while this year, 71 job offers were made on the peninsula.

But in Japan, Army officials at Camp Zama said they were told not to curtail their summer job program.

“We received instructions from Installation Management Command saying that [overseas bases] are exempt from restrictions on summer hire program stemming from any budget restraints,” Edward Roper, a base spokesman, said in a written response. “Living away from the United States, it is important to provide family members employment opportunity such as the summer hire program for monetary gain and also experience in the working environment.”

Summer Hire Programs

Most summer hire programs at Pacific bases run from June 25 to Aug. 17. The wage is $5 an hour at most locations — a Defense Department standard for overseas Pacific bases based on a regional wage survey. At Naval Base Guam, student employees earn the U.S. minimum wage of $5.15 an hour.

Even at bases without summer hire programs, a few paying jobs are available for older teens at the commissary and with the Army and Air Force Exchange Service and other agencies. Teens also can earn money mowing grass and baby-sitting, military officials said.

Here’s a look at summer job and volunteer opportunities for teenagers in Japan:

Misawa Air Base: No summer hire program. Students can gain job experience through volunteer opportunities. The Defense Department-sponsored VolunTeen Program runs from June 25 through Aug. 10. Volunteers must be 13 to 18 years old; seniors who have graduated from high school are ineligible.

Forty positions are open on the base. Organizations needing assistance include Pets Are Worth Saving, University of Maryland University College, the dental clinic, Grissom Dining Facility, public affairs, the library, the fitness center and the family child-care center. Teenagers can volunteer 10 to 20 hours a week.

Student volunteers also can earn scholarship money from that work through the Youth Employment Skills program (Y.E.S.).

Teenagers can still apply to be a VolunTeen at the Airman and Family Readiness Center. For more information, call DSN 226-4735.

Yokota Air Base: No summer hire program. Students can volunteer for the Y.E.S. program through the Yokota Services Teen Center.

Applicants for the program must be a dependent of an active-duty Air Force member and must be in grades 9 through 12.

For more information, contact the teen center at DSN 225-6793 or 225-3235.

Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni: Summer hire program applicants can apply at the personnel office on the second floor of the Crossroads Mall. The commissary also is looking for youth summer hire checkers, stockers and baggers. Apply at the commissary.

Commander, Naval Forces Japan: Teens can apply for 103 summer hire positions at CNFJ installations in Japan. Though the first wave of students will report to work June 25, the application deadline is July 13, as some positions become vacant due to summer vacations and permanent-change-of-station moves. Students ages 14 to 21 can apply at the human resources office at any Navy base in Japan. Vacancy announcements are posted at under “jobs.”

Camp Zama: The summer hire program starts June 25 with about 70 jobs available for students and family members. No other information was available Tuesday.

— From staff reports

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Jennifer reports on the U.S. military from Kaiserslautern, Germany, where she writes about the Air Force, Army and DODEA schools. She’s had previous assignments for Stars and Stripes in Japan, reporting from Yokota and Misawa air bases. Before Stripes, she worked for daily newspapers in Wyoming and Colorado. She’s a graduate of the College of William and Mary in Virginia.

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