Air Force Stop Loss Comes One Year After Major Cuts

Air Force photo taken by Senior Airman Brett Clashman

A recent change to Air Force Instruction 36-3203 — the provision that deals with retirement — may cause some active-duty and reserve officers to have their retirement denied or delayed. This policy, which was first reported by former airman Tony Carr, comes on the heels of the Air Force voluntarily discharging 19,000 airmen from its ranks just last year.

A footnote listed in the instruction will invoke stop loss for a number of airmen who are tasked to deploy, or who have applied for retirement on or after their assignment selection date or notification of a 365-day extended deployment.

"The current Air Force manning shortage was not only foreseeable, but self-inflicted, which makes [the] resort to Stop Loss under the circumstances look less like force management than force malpractice," Carr told Air Force Times.

President Donald Trump hands a pen to Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert Wilkie during a spending bill signing ceremony at VA Southern Nevada Healthcare System, Friday, Sept. 21, 2018, in Las Vegas. (Associated Press/Evan Vucci)

The Trump administration wants to shift billions of dollars from government-run veterans' hospitals to private health care providers. That's true even though earlier this year the administration vehemently denied it would privatize any part of the Department of Veterans Affairs.

The privatization of essential government services is nothing new, of course. Over the years, countries have privatized dozens of services and activities that were once the sole domain of governments, such as the provision of electricity and water, road operations and prisons and even health care, with the ostensible aim of making them more efficient.

But before going down that road, the question needs to be asked whether privatizing essential human services such as those for military veterans serves the public interest. New research we recently published suggests that privatization may come at a social cost.

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