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My Air Force Experience: Appeal Denied (3 of 11)

Anyone familiar with the military knows that appeals are anything but a sure thing. There are no historical rates available because the process is basically a review of the existing outliers (10 U.S. Code § 14502). For the Special Selection Board, “They” say that your appeal package will be compared against a sample of your peers from the original board. I think the standard is that they compare your package to the lowest five that made the cut and you have to beat one of them. But the diversity of military duties makes this all but impossible to compare apples to apples (within specialties) without reconvening the entire board: Did I as an engineer perform better than a pilot, a security forces officer, a logistician, or a personnelist? Hard to say.

UPDATE 8 MARCH 2015: Sign the petition to Rep. Jeff Miller (R-FL), the Chairman of the House Veterans' Affairs Committee that calls on the Department of Defense to close a loophole and allow the GI Bill Transfer of Education Benefits to spouses and children for service members who could not complete his or her service agreement as a result of involuntary separation due to non-selection for promotion, just like it does for everyone else that gets forced out when the military needs to make personnel cuts.

The logical circle that develops is: “You would have been promoted if your record was good enough, but since I’m reviewing your record at an appeals board…something in your record must not have been good enough, so we’re not going to promote you.” What was wrong with my record was that the  Air Force Personnel Center misfiled my most recent performance report, and while they did apologize...it was too little, too late. Even so, they agreed to review my whole package as it would have met the original promotion board, but I wouldn't really be measured against my peers.

As you probably figured out, my appeal was denied. The starboard engine is officially dead. I’ve got one shot left at getting promoted or I will be required by law to separate from the military no later than six months after the second promotion board’s recommendation is finalized, per paragraph (a).(1) of 10 U.S. Code § 632 - Effect of failure of selection for promotion: captains and majors of the Army, Air Force, and Marine Corps and lieutenants and lieutenant commanders of the Navy.

To read more about the promotion appeals process, the odds for promotion above the zone, and my own military-to-civilian transition, Click Here.

On a wing and a prayer
So...how’s Plan B, the Foreign Service? Due to non-disclosure requirements, I can’t say too much about the Personal Narrative Questions (PNQs). But imagine trying to use a very limited number of words to describe the experiences that you think best represent what the Foreign Service is looking for.
You only get three weeks to write and refine them after passing the Foreign Service Officer Test (FSOT) before the window closes and your entire application package is reviewed by the aptly named Qualifications Evaluation Panel (QEP). These are the folks who decide if I get invited to the Oral Assessment (OA)… the metaphorical equivalent of getting my parachute harness on and shuffling to the door.

There is a considerable amount of time between submitting the PNQs and getting the invitation to the OA. I submitted my PNQs around 19 July 11 and I’m still waiting for my OA invitation…hopefully sometime in September.

If you're looking for books about transitioning out of the military, these are useful:

To read my Entering the Foreign Service mini-series in chronological order, Click Here.

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