WASHINGTON, DC -- The Air Force revoked some airmen's approvals for early retirement over the weekend, causing outrage online and sparking a petition to the White House.
One airman, who had previously been approved for Temporary Early Retirement Authority and asked not to be identified in print, forwarded the April 5 email to Air Force Times.
"We apologize for the confusion; however, your retirement application was approved erroneously," the email said. "The Air Force Personnel Center has approved the maximum allowable voluntary applications for your AFSC [Air Force specialty code]/grade, or your AFSC/grade has been removed from eligibility for this year's programs due to adjustments to manpower requirements. So your application is being returned."
The email also said the airman is no longer eligible for any voluntary or involuntary force management programs this year.
At press time, the Air Force was still preparing a response to an Air Force Times inquiry sent Monday morning. The response is expected Tuesday morning, said Maj. Matt Hasson, an Air Force spokesman.
After blogger Tony Carr first wrote on April 5 that AFPC started sending those emails out the afternoon of April 4, a flurry of concern erupted online. Some airmen said in comments posted on Facebook pages that they had gotten the take-back message.
Others wrote online that after hearing the news, they rushed to confirm that their TERA approval was still good.
And on April 7, a person with the initials S.M., who lives in Minot, N.D., had created an online petition asking the White House to overturn AFPC's TERA reversals.
"We must stand for the common man and woman in the United States Air Force," the petition read. "These approved retirements should stand, as the members applied in good faith and had been duly notified of approval. Although AFPC's action may technically be legal, they are [sic] surely unjust and our people deserve better than that."
On April 3, the Air Force released a revised list of Air Force Specialty Codes eligible for this year's force management programs. The new list removed more than 8,000 jobs. At the same time, the Air Force provided data requested by Air Force Times in early March about the number of TERA applications approved. According to the Air Force data provided by spokeswoman Rose Richeson, 470 enlisted airmen had been notified that their applications had been approved, and another 1,850 airmen had been approved and were about to be notified. Sixty-six officers had been approved and notified and roughly 250 had been approved and were about to be notified.