Less than 24 hours after the Air Force began accepting relocation applications from parents with joint custody of a child, the service granted its first such request.
Master Sgt. Willian Rotroff, an F-35 integrated section chief with the 756th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, said in a statement that he got approval less than 24 hours after he submitted the package requesting to be stationed near his son. Now, he is set to leave Arizona and join four-year-old Chevvy in Florida this fall.
The Air Force announced Aug. 5 that it would start considering the circumstances of airmen with a court-ordered child custody arrangement when determining assignments, even if they are not married to the co-parent.
"We recognize family dynamics don't always look the same and there is not a one-size-fits-all solution to managing people's careers and assignments," Lt. Gen. Brian T. Kelly, deputy chief of staff for Manpower, Personnel and Services, said at the time. "We ask our people to move frequently, and we know that can cause additional stress and sacrifices for their families. This change gives us the flexibility needed to better take care of them."
In Rotroff's case, he'd opted to relocate his son and ex-wife to Florida earlier this year, before finding out his overseas orders were canceled. In the release, he said he'd believed the location would provide a better support system for them in his absence.
Rotroff said he got help from his local Military Personnel Flight to ensure he was eligible for consideration under the policy. He'd expected to receive a decision approximately 30 days after he submitted his package.
"I was in shock," said Rotroff. "I know the assignment process is busy, with a lot of moving parts. I'm just so grateful to the assignments team and everyone that was involved with making this happen."
"One of the greatest parts about being a squadron commander is that I have the ability and authority to fix many problems for my Airmen relatively quickly," Maj. Joseph Langan, Rotroff's commander, said in a statement. "Sometimes the problems are messy and have complex solutions, but this was one of the easiest and most satisfying wins I've had during my time in command."
Cristi Bowes, Military Assignment Policy and Procedures at the Air Force Personnel Center, said Rotroff's proactive steps and the documentation he submitted contributed to the quick turnaround time. Fully rained assignment teams are ready to accept and review all requests immediately and get the decisions back to airmen as soon as possible, she said.
"We deliberately designed the process to have minimal required coordination to enable the process to be swift for Airmen and their families," Bowes said.
"This program truly shows how the Air Force cares for their Airmen and families," she added. "It provides an opportunity for Airmen to continue serving in the greatest Air Force in the world and not have to choose between their career and their children."
Chief Master Sgt. Daniel Hoglund, Air Force Personnel Center command chief, credited the team of experts working behind the scenes to support such programs successfully.
"The ability to take a vision and turn it into reality has set a mark for future programs to continue to generate wins for our Airmen and families," he said in a statement. "I look forward to this program running on all cylinders and becoming normal muscle movement for our assignment functional managers in our operations execution directorate."
Rotroff said he expects to arrive in Florida in time for his son's fifth birthday.
"Everyone's situation is different, everyone's urgency is different, but it's a blessing this program exists," Rotroff said. "I'm thankful my son will be able to have his mom and dad; his happiness means the world to me."