Kunsan military couples allowed concurrent short tours
KUNSAN AIR BASE - A recent policy change now enables active-duty military couples to serve simultaneously at Kunsan Air Base on a case-by-case basis.
"This is great news for our incoming married military members," said Col. Ken "Wolf" Ekman, 8th Fighter Wing commander. "Our military to military couples make significant sacrifices to serve our Air Force. Separation during their assignments to Korea should not be one of them."
Under the previous policy for military couples, if one spouse was assigned to Kunsan, the other would be assigned to Osan or another location.
Lt. Col. Dustin "Devil" Richards, 8th Civil Engineer Squadron commander, was selected for command at Kunsan in 2013, while his wife was assigned as the chief staff judge advocate at the 8th FW.
"When it was discovered that we were going to be stationed together at Kunsan, my wife was reassigned to Osan," said Richards. "This new policy benefits mil-to-mil couples because it allows people in our situation to serve on remote tours together. Serving together at Kunsan can also help decrease separation time in the future."
In addition to Richards, there are currently 49 Airmen at the 8th FW who continuously transit between Kunsan and Osan to visit their spouses.
"We take every opportunity to visit each other," said Senior Airman Michele Waninger, 8th Maintenance Squadron aerospace ground equipment journeyman, whose husband is stationed at Osan. "Over one year's time we will spend a significant amount in travel costs just to see each other. But in the end, it's worth it. I'm just grateful we are able to see each other at all."
Like Waninger, many Kunsan Airmen strive to balance a high operations tempo with making time to see their spouses at Osan.
"My husband and I both do shift work as maintainers," said Waninger. "There have been times we've had to quickly readjust our sleeping schedules in order to see each other. Luckily, our supervisors have been willing to work with us on our weekend schedules."
"We've been very fortunate," she added. "But of course it would be great if he could have been stationed here."
While the new policy allows mil-to-mil couples to be stationed together at Kunsan, the requirement for each Wolf Pack member to be in a constant state of mission readiness remains a priority.
Active-duty military couples who receive a join spouse assignment to Kunsan will be housed in individual quarters and will not be authorized accompanied housing, according to the Pacific Air Forces manpower and personnel office.
"Given the location and nature of our mission here, Kunsan will continue to be a challenge for all married couples," said Richards. "But I think giving mil-to-mil couples the opportunity to come here at the same time will increase flexibility and attract more volunteers to Kunsan."
Airmen approved for concurrent assignments to Kunsan will still get short tour credit and are eligible to apply for a follow-on assignment, according to an Air Force Personnel Center release. However, until updates can be made to the military personnel data system, requests for a join spouse assignment to Kunsan will be implemented by exception, said Bill Houston, AFPC Family Member Travel manager.
"I'm very grateful for the support of our 7 AF, Pacific Air Forces, and headquarters Air Force leaders and staffs," said Wolf. "They have helped us take an important step towards caring for the 8th FW's most precious resource--our Wolf Pack Airmen."
For more information about concurrent short tours at Kunsan, see the AFPC news release at http://www.afpc.af.mil/news/story.asp?id=123442865.
For more information about Air Force personnel programs go to myPers at https://mypers.af.mil. Individuals who do not have a myPers account can request one at www.retirees.af.mil/shared/media/document/AFD-120510-068.pdf.