Career Focus: Don’t lose it

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Joseph Mulcahy
  • Team Kirtland career assistance advisor
Each year as summer begins to dwindle the phrase "use or lose" is frequently heard. If Airmen accrue more than 60 days of leave after Sept. 30, those well-deserved days will be lost.

Active-duty members earn 30 days of leave each year, or 2.5 days each month. We are encouraged to take 14 consecutive days each year under Air Force Instruction 36-3003, "Military Leave Program."

It may be difficult to schedule leave around deployments, exercises, inspections and similar mission demands, but we owe it to ourselves to take leave and make sure that those we supervise do too. I have worked with too many folks who have lost leave for nonmission-related reasons. More than losing leave, they lost a more precious benefit -- time with their loved ones.

Perhaps the worst thing we can do in life is to take for granted those who care for and support us every day. Regardless of our family situation, we should spend time with our families and friends free from the concerns of work.

I have been guilty of saving 60 or more days of leave. I love what I do and love to be at work. I also love to spend time with my fiancé and children. In years past, I made excuses for avoiding leave. When I took leave, I often stopped by the office or checked my messages. This year, I decided to take real leave; I resolved only to answer the phone if my commander or chief called. I went into the mountains near Taos with my boys and we camped to our hearts' delight.

When I returned, my mind was clear and my energy levels were supercharged. I had a renewed perspective and desire to take on greater challenges. For the first time in my career, I finally understood what leave meant and received its full benefits.

As this fiscal year comes to a close, make sure you do not exceed the 60-day limit. Take a well-deserved break -- you have earned it. Use your leave, don't lose it.

If you desire career assistance or advice on this topic or any other Air Force benefits and entitlements, contact me at 846-6636 or e-mail me at
See you in the wings!