Thursday, April 10, 2014

USAFE-AFAFRICA Airmen must revalidate dependents

by Tech. Sgt. James M. Hodgman
U.S. Air Forces in Europe and Air Forces Africa Public Affairs

4/10/2014 - RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany -- More than 16,000 U.S. Air Forces in Europe and Air Forces Africa Airmen must revalidate their dependents to continue receiving basic housing allowance or overseas housing allowance at the with-dependent rate. This requirement also applies to military members occupying family housing.

The command's revalidation efforts are part of the Air Force's service-wide mandate for Airmen to revalidate their dependents by Dec. 31, 2014. The command's goal is to have all revalidations completed by Oct. 31.

This one-time, Air Force wide recertification process will allow the Air Force to validate Airmen's basic allowance for housing entitlements, ensuring every dollar of the $5.4 billion the service spends annually on BAH is fully auditable, said Master Sgt. Temeka M. Stewart, USAFE-AFAFRICA Financial Management financial operations manager.

The Innovation and Transformation Office is leading the command's revalidation efforts and has developed a plan for all Airmen to revalidate their dependents, said Lt. Col. Stephen Cristofori, USAFE-AFAFRICA ITO deputy chief.

According to the plan, base comptroller squadrons will establish a schedule for comptrollers to meet with individual Airmen to revalidate dependents. Airmen will then be notified of their revalidation appointment time and informed what supporting documentation will be required.

At those appointments, recertification will be accomplished on the spot, Cristofori said. "The whole process should take no more than 10 minutes."

To revalidate dependents, Airmen must complete Air Force Form 594, Application and Authorization to Start, Stop, or Change Basic Allowance for Quarter or Dependency Determination. The form, along with step-by-step instructions, resources to locate supporting documentation and frequently asked questions can be found at the USAFE-AFAFRICA website in the spotlights section.

Airmen can also find this information on the USAFE-AFAFRICA ITO Dependent Revalidation page on the USAFE-AFAFRICA Portal; however, a common access card is required to access the site.

Once the form is completed, Airmen must print it without signing it. Then, they should bring the completed unsigned form, their military identification card and all required supporting documentation to their revalidation appointment. Supporting documentation must be in its original form as copies won't be accepted. To minimize the inconvenience to Airmen, they do not need to go to their finance office--USAFE-AFAFRICA comptroller squadrons will send representatives to their units in the near future.

Airmen should visit the website and wait for official notification prior to contacting their local finance office, Cristofori said. Additionally, Airmen should find their supporting documents now.

"Finding marriage and birth certificates can be difficult given the number of moves we in the military have," Cristofori said. "Hopefully, people keep their important documents organized in a safe place. If they can't find them, now is the time to reach out to the counties, cities, states and possibly countries to get them."

Supporting documentation includes marriage certificates, birth certificates for dependent children, divorce decrees and approved Defense Finance and Accounting Service letters authorizing secondary dependency.

Cristofori also stressed the command is finalizing a process specifically for deployed Airmen and members of geographically separated units. However, he said the most important thing Airmen can do now, is obtain the required documentation they need to revalidate dependents.

The revalidation is being done to ensure the Air Force is audit ready as a result of a Financial Improvement and Audit Readiness mandate outlined in the FY 2010 National Defense Authorization, Stewart said.

"When we say the Air Force is not audit compliant, that doesn't mean that money is missing or misspent," said Doug Bennett, deputy assistant secretary of the Air Force for financial operations. It means supporting documentation entitling members for with dependent rate BAH or OHA is not available.

Cristofori also emphasized the command will work with individual unit leadership to help Airmen complete the revalidation process.

"Our Airmen are vital to our mission and are our most important asset," Cristofori added. "We know our Airmen are focused on the mission and they have personal commitments they must keep. We are going to do all we can to ensure they complete the revalidation process with as little stress as possible so their pay will be unaffected."

Airmen can find instructions and many answers to revalidation questions by visiting the USAFE-AFAFRICA website or the USAFE-AFAFRICA Portal.

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