JUNE 2, 2017, JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-RANDOLPH, Texas (AFNS) – Summertime is a busy season for permanent changes of station and military couples may be apprehensive about the possibility of being separated from their spouses during their next assignments. They have little to be concerned about, however, as the Air Force Personnel Center has an accommodation rate of more than 96 percent for mil-to-mil married couples through the assignment of military couples option, commonly known across the Air Force as a “join spouse” assignment.
With more than 27,000 active-duty Airmen (just under 10 percent of the active-duty Air Force) married to another active-duty Airman, and about 1,500 active-duty Airmen (just under half a percent) married to an active-duty member of another military service, the placement rate for join spouse as of March 31, 2017, is 96.6 percent. When those on assignment to join their spouses or those with approved retirement or separation dates are factored in, the placement rate goes to almost 98 percent.
A join spouse assignment allows legally married active-duty military couples the opportunity to be stationed together at the same installation. If positions are not available for both members at the same installation, they may be assigned to different installations within 50 miles of each other and maintain a joint residence.
“The Air Force will try to keep a military couple together,” said Cristi Bowes, who is a part of the Assignment Policy and Procedures section at the AFPC. “The most common hurdle to a join spouse assignment lies in meeting the eligibility requirements, so military couples do have a key role in the success of this program.”
Married military couples are required to present their marriage certificate to their Military Personnel Section Customer Service Element to update their marital status in the Military Personnel Data System and Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System. They also need to update their join spouse intent code and assignment preferences in the virtual Military Personnel Flight to indicate their intentions as a couple and whether or not they wish to be reassigned together.
“We want Airmen to remember that the join spouse intent code ensures join spouse consideration and takes priority over individual assignment preferences like base of preference,” Bowes said.
According to Bowes, individual assignment preferences would be considered, but the main consideration is to try and keep both Airmen together if they both desire it.
Airmen who marry while en route to different assignment locations are required to contact the nearest Air Force installation, MPS Customer Service Element, and submit an application letter for join spouse assignment consideration before arriving at their new duty locations.
“This allows AFPC to act upon the join spouse application and coordinate a change in assignment before the Airmen proceed to a new duty location,” Bowes said.
Otherwise, if the newly wed active-duty couple signs into their new locations first, time-on-station requirements apply and they would be ineligible for join spouse consideration.
Additional information about join spouse assignment consideration can be found on myPers. Select “Any” from the dropdown menu and search “join spouse.”
By Kat Bailey, Air Force Personnel Center Public Affairs