By Delanie Stafford, 55th Wing Public Affairs
/ Published August 11, 2017
Are you a prior service member who’d like a second chance at serving your country full time? If so, the time has never been better. Recruiters are currently looking to fill many of the Air Force’s undermanned career field’s through the Prior Service program.
“We haven’t done prior service very heavily for a long time,” said Senior Master Sgt. Christopher Mohr, 343rd Recruiting Squadron production superintendent. “We actually are taking prior service now and need to get the word out.”
In some cases, prior service members can re-enlist and report directly to a base, skipping much of the initial enlistment process.
“If they’re out less than a year, they don’t have to go back through the Military Entrance Processing Station,” Mohr said.
In this situation, Mohr recommends contacting a recruiter within six months of separation to get the process started as the member must report no later than the one-year mark.
To be eligible, there must be an Air Force need. However, you still may be eligible for retraining opportunities.
“Every fiscal year, we have a limited number of slots for retraining,” said Tech. Sgt. William Royster, who is a trainer in the 343rd RCS training and marketing office.
Royster said retraining is typically offered for special operations career fields such as combat control, pararescue and explosive ordinance disposal. However, retraining opportunities also exist when a new career field is introduced or when a career field is critically undermanned.
Tech. Sgt. Norris Robbins Jr., 343rd Recruiting Squadron NCO in charge of operations, re-entered active duty through the prior service program and became a recruiter when his educational plans didn’t work out.
“I got out to go to school,” Robbins said. “Once I didn’t get picked up for nursing, I decided to come back in.”
Robbins, who also served in the Air Force Reserve after separating from active duty, said he missed the Air Force way of life.
“I’ve always wanted to be in the Air Force,” Robbins said. “The camaraderie is what brought me back.”
Current recruit Nicole Harris, separated from the Air Force in January of 2016 after six years of service. She also took advantage of the Prior Service program and will report to Dover Air Force Base, Delaware in September as an aircrew flight equipment specialist, the same job she held previously.
She said she missed the military’s structure and shared values.
“I found out that it was a lot harder to adapt to being a civilian than I thought,” Harris said. “[Re-enlisting] was an easy decision - it weighed heavily on the fact that I didn’t know how much I would miss the military community.”
Royster said that prior service members from all branches of the service are eligible. Guard and Reserve members are also eligible with a signed DD368, Conditional Release form from their functional manager.
To determine eligibility, applicants must submit their DD214 Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty through a recruiting office.
Applicants must also be within six years of their separation date and their adjusted age must be less than 39 after subtracting total years of active-duty service from their chronological age.
For more information about the Prior Service program, visit https://www.airforce.com/frequently-asked-questions/prior-service-path or contact the nearest Air Force recruiting office.