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Updated EPME reenlistment, promotion eligibility policy takes effect in January

JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-RANDOLPH, Texas (AFNS) -- The Air Force’s updated reenlistment and promotion eligibility policy, which goes into effect Jan. 1, 2017, requires Airmen to complete their enlisted professional military education distance learning course within 12 months of the date they are notified by Air Force Personnel Center or automatically be rendered ineligible to reenlist, extend or promote until the requirement is met.

Airmen are encouraged to highlight their notification date and plan out their time in order to meet the requirement.

The Air Force began transitioning to a time in service, blended learning model of EPME in 2014, beginning with an updated Senior NCO Academy Distance Learning Course and a revamped in-resident “Advanced Leadership Experience” at the SNCO Academy. Last year, the NCO Academy transitioned to a distance learning course followed by an in-resident “Intermediate Leadership Experience.” The blended learning model is designed to provide a higher level of professional education to the enlisted force.

“The in-resident portions build on what Airmen learn in the distance learning model,” said Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force James A. Cody. “It goes beyond the books and the tests. It builds on the roots planted in the distance component by combining scenarios, exercises and interaction with fellow Airmen...it's not duplicative. It’s designed to be a leadership experience.”

In 2015, the Air Force notified roughly 61,000 Airmen to enroll in the NCOA or SNCOA distance learning courses. The delayed policy implementation means the course completion date for those Airmen was also pushed back to Jan. 1, 2017. With the deadline approaching quickly, there are still many Airmen who need to complete their EPME distance learning courses by the new policy implementation date or they will be ineligible to reenlist, extend or promote.

“If an Airman is projected for promotion prior to their suspense date, they will be allowed to promote,” said Master Sgt. Lisa Fleck, enlisted promotion policy superintendent. “If the same Airman fails to complete the course by the suspense date, the promotion sequence number will be placed into withhold status.”

This means if the course is not completed by the end of the promotion cycle, the Airman will lose their projected line number and it will not be reinstated, regardless of completion.

Fleck also noted there seems to be confusion regarding the “course extension” and “course deferment” definitions. The extension is an administrative tool used by Air University to track length of enrollment and does not extend an Airman's mandatory suspense date as determined by AFPC.

The deferment, on the other hand, is a tool commanders can use to delay the completion date of the course if there are factors that would prevent an Airman from completing the course within the 12-month completion period.

"Our enlisted professional military education is critical to our development as leaders in the profession of arms,” Cody said. “We’re also certainly aware of mission demands and extenuating circumstances in our Airmen’s lives. Commanders have the ability to request an extension and should certainly do so if it’s in the best interest of their Airmen.”

More information about EPME is available on myPers. Click “Force Development” from the active duty enlisted landing page, then the Enlisted Professional Military Education link.

For more information about Air Force personnel programs, go to the myPers website. Individuals who do not have a myPers account can request one by following these instructions on the Air Force Retirees Services website.