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NEWS | Jan. 23, 2013

Retired On Active Duty

By Master Sgt. Cynthia Gardner 11th FSS

Retired On Active Duty, or R.O.A.D , is an acronym most of us are familiar with; and chances are you have even met someone meeting this definition. Many of us may picture an aging senior noncommissioned officer who is close to retirement and has elected to sit back and do as little as possible until they are officially retired.

The title R.O.A.D can also be assigned to junior Airmen - those that come to work, do the bare minimum to meet Air Force standards and accomplish assigned tasks, all the while bad mouthing their organization, and possibly the Air Force.

Thankfully, these R.O.A.D Airmen are few and far between.

Most of us can agree that we have seen our work centers experience manning cuts but the amount of work stays the same, or increases. Therefore, each Airman serves a significant role in their unit and the Air Force.

When I joined the Air Force almost 20 years ago we had a force of 445,000 Airmen; today our numbers are just shy of 330,000 with probable additional cuts. Our Air Force has endured reduced manning every year between 1955 and 2001; aside from the slight increase in manning in 2002 and 2003, reduced manning is still trending.

With that being said, it is important for all of us, especially our R.O.A.D. Airmen, to understand that each and every one of us serves a key role in accomplishing the Air Force mission.

When one of us decides to assume life as a "Retired On Active Duty" Airman, we push our duties onto other Airmen in our work centers; Airman that are already busy with their duties. During these austere times of fiscal constraints, manning cuts, sequestration, contingencies in Afghanistan, etc., it is imperative that each and every one of us finds our purpose, our motivation and remains fully engaged in the fight.

My question is this: Why do people become R.O.A.D? There is no easy answer and it is probably different for each person. For the seasoned Airman, the one who is close to retirement, I assume it is possible they are tired.  We should do all we can to re-motivate these people.

Let's not forget about those junior members of our Air Force that already display these R.O.A.D. tendencies. These Airmen may lack direction and motivation. An involved supervisor should be able to turn these members into positive Airmen. Let your Airmen know that this behavior is unacceptable - do not tolerate this behavior or make excuses for it - nip it in the bud now! These are people who may find more satisfaction in the civilian world as there is a line of young and motivated personnel waiting to get into our beloved Air Force.

As our Air Force continues to shrink while our duties stay the same or increase, failure is never an option. We need every Airman to understand the importance of what they are doing. We need to understand that our nation is counting on each and every one of us.

As adults, it is our responsibility to find what motivates us to do a great job and then do it. Every single one of us is important and serves a purpose that few other Americans will every experience or truly understand - we are unique, we are proud, we are professionals - We Are Airmen! Get engaged and get back in the fight!