LITTLE ROCK AIR FORCE BASE, Ark. -- Retirement or separation can be an exciting time for military members, but as expected with any major life transition, it can be fraught with challenges. A 19th Comptroller Squadron Airman’s innovation has made one part of the process smoother.
Senior Airman Murad Babatov, 19th CPTS financial management technician, discovered a problem Airmen were having when retiring, separating, or taking advantage of the DoD SkillBridge Program.
LeaveWeb will soon be configured to allow terminal and permissive leaves for separation and retirement to be requested or approved at any time. It will then hold the transaction and submit it no earlier than 30 days prior to leave start date.
“The current process is to leave a paper copy of your leave request, better known as a Form 988, from up to 180 days from your final separation date, and when it gets to your 30 day mark, your unit would have to upload it on your behalf and start the process,” Babatov said. “There were so many moving parts that sometimes added points of potential failure, leading to the person have leave charged against their balance or appear as technically AWOL.”
Marcus Meeks, 19th Airlift Wing manpower analyst, said allowing the member to submit their requests before leaving prevents these scenarios.
“Members will now be able to submit their leave and have it approved before departing their duty station without fear that the leave will not be submitted into LeaveWeb at the 30 day mark — long after the member has departed the unit,” said Meeks.
This LeaveWeb change will ease the transition of members to civilian life and potentially significantly reduce the amount of out-of-service debts as well as paperwork hassles for Airmen participating in the SkillBridge program.
Babatov explained why he encourages other Airmen to be innovative and find solutions to problems they may be experiencing in their career field.
“Even though this change required zero expenses it has a ton of benefits … because eventually everyone will separate or retire and will be able to take advantage of this change,” Babatov said. “This also proves to members that the Air Force not only takes care of people while they’re in, but they also take care of retirees and veterans.”
The Air Force’s commitment to innovation shines through empowered Airmen who drive creative, outcome-focused solutions.
“The best thing about changes like this is that we have an Airman who was having problems with his daily job at a single, small base and was able to make a change to the entire Air Force,” said Meeks.
The changes are expected to take place in the next LeaveWeb programming update and will be implemented this November.
“It shows that leadership at the highest levels of the Air Force are listening and know the Air Force can change for the better. They know that some, if not most, of those changes come from everyday Airmen,” Meeks said.