More FY17 Promo Board Information

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Here is some more of the FY17 promotion board information I scared up from the PERS website for your perusal:

The FY17 Medical Corps Community Brief is a standard document updated and released every year and can give you some insight into what the promotion boards are looking for.

The FY17 Promotion Board Update Active Duty slides explain the changes in FY17 promotion boards.  We’ve already discussed the changes in the zone stamps, but the slides also mention a few other changes.

The FY17 Promo Board Precept explains the “rules of the road” for all the promotion boards.  You will find more detailed information in each board’s convening order, but those aren’t released yet and this still contains some general information about what promotion boards are looking for.

Start 2016 By Being Different – Be an Astronaut or Innovator!

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Welcome to 2016!  There a few “nontraditional” Naval opportunities that were recently advertised:

  1. Apply to become an astronaut.  The NAVADMIN that describes the application process for Naval officers is here:

Navy Astronaut Candidate Selection Program

  1. If you are an O4 or below and have an innovative streak in you, you can apply to be a part of the Chief of Naval Operations’ Rapid Innovation Cell:

CNO Rapid Innovation Cell Call for Members – 2015 in Review

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Happy New Year to all users.  In 6 months, we got 11,000 views.  If you’d like to see the statistics, top posts, top commenters, and other similar things, see below.  Thanks for making this blog an impactful and valuable resource.

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2015 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 11,000 times in 2015. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 4 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

Promotion Board Changes

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The following is from a PDF document created by RDML(s) Swap, Chief of the Medical Service Corps, and adapted for the Medical Corps with permission.  Her unedited PDF is here:

Talking Points #33 AZ IZ Stamps


Promotion boards are an integral part of how the Navy identifies the best and most qualified officers to lead in the future. Promotions are an expectation of future potential, not a reward for past performance. Every Medical Corps officer plays an important role in developing our next generation of leaders to include preparation for promotion boards. It is incumbent on our senior MC officers to understand the promotion selection process and be familiar with changes to the system, so appropriate mentoring can be performed.


ALNAV 050/15 released on 12 June 2015 outlines new talent management initiatives introduced by the Secretary of the Navy. New initiatives include changes in officer promotion processes to ensure the best and most fully qualified officers are promoted with consideration for current abilities and talents, rather than placement in a particular promotion zone. Therefore, beginning in January 2016, Above Zone (AZ) and Below Zone (BZ) stamps on officer records will no longer be used for records reviewed on promotion boards. These stamps were indicators on the Officer’s Summary Record (OSR) that highlighted the officer’s status within the zone.


  • Beginning in January 2016, AZ and BZ stamps will no longer be placed on records reviewed in “the tank” (which is the promotion board room at PERS).
  • AZ records will be reviewed with In Zone (IZ) records as conducted previously, minus the AZ stamp.
  • A separate BZ review will still be conducted to review records warranting further consideration.
  • Any BZ record selected for further review will be added to the crunch records reviewed in the tank. All BZ records identified for complete review will have no identifying BZ stamps and will be reviewed twice to ensureconsistent appearance among all of crunch records.
  • Promotion zone eligibility will continue to be released via NAVADMIN in December of each year.


  • Removal of the AZ/BZ stamps from the board view is to ensure the selection of the best and most qualified officer and that officers are promoted with consideration for current abilities and talents, rather than placement in a particular promotion zone.
  • This initiative does not change the requirement for the OSRs to be stamped with “Letter to the Board”.
  • It is still the officer’s prerogative on whether to submit a letter to the board.
  • All officers should engage a mentor or senior leader to review their record prior to coming in zone, to identify issues/challenges that may require attention.
  • If there are items in an officer’s record that need to be addressed/explained (regardless if BZ, IZ or AZ), it is recommended that a letter to the board be submitted addressing the issue.
  • Officers who have previously failed to select may choose not to submit a letter to board if the record is in good order and has no items requiring attention.


These are my comments now, and not RDML(s) Swap’s.  First, I think this might make it a little easier to promote if you are AZ.  Second, it also might make it easier to promote if you are BZ.  In other words, don’t put off fixing your records just because you are BZ.  Make sure you go to Joel Schofer’s Promo Prep and update your record if you are BZ, IZ, or AZ as soon as possible.

Transitional Year Internship Program Director Position Available in San Antonio

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Here is the announcement for anyone interested in the Transitional Year Internship Program Director position at the San Antonio Uniformed Services Health Education Consortium:

Navy Announcement of TY PD Position at San Antonio


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MGEN Caravalho, the US Army Joint Staff Surgeon, is offering a unique opportunity for a senior O-3 or O-4 to serve on the Joint Staff as his Executive Assistant.



-Must have a Top Secret (TS) Clearance or ability to obtain TS (usually the biggest sticking point). 

-The ability to handle tough questions and issues presented at the senior strategic level.

-Ability to plan, coordinate, prepare, and synchronize schedules, activities, briefings, meetings, speeches, and travel at the General Officer/Flag Officer level.



-Exposure to the Joint Staff/ Environment.

-Visibility of the Services and what they bring to the table and view problems from a Joint perspective that looks at all the capabilities available.

-Interaction with senior level leadership up to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

-Interaction with senior civilian level leadership within OSD.


If you are interested, contact your Detailer by January 6th.

DoD Releases 2016 Basic Allowance for Housing Rates

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Here is a DoD news release about the 2016 BAH rates:

The Department of Defense has released the 2016 Basic Allowance for Housing rates. Basic Allowance for Housing rates will increase an average of 3.4 percent when the new rates take effect on January 1, 2016. An estimated $21 billion will be paid to approximately one million Service members. On average, Basic Allowance for Housing rates will increase approximately $54 per month.

Continuing to slow the growth in compensation costs, the 2016 Basic Allowance for Housing Program expands the member cost-sharing element (out-of-pocket expense). Based on the authority provided in the FY 2016 National Defense Authorization Act, the cost-sharing element was increased to two percent. The cost-sharing amounts incorporated in the 2016 Basic Allowance for Housing rates vary by grade and dependency status and range from $24 to $57 monthly. This means for 2016, a typical member will need to absorb two percent of the national average housing cost by pay grade. This rate computation change slows the growth of certain military pay and benefits in a fair, responsible, and sustainable way. Even with these nominal changes, the overall military pay and benefits package remains robust and healthy.

Housing cost data are collected annually for over 300 Military Housing Areas in the United States, including Alaska and Hawaii. An important part of the Basic Allowance for Housing process is the cooperation from the Services and local military housing offices in the data collection effort. Input from local commands is used to determine in what neighborhoods data is collected and to direct the data collection effort towards adequate apartment complexes and individual housing units.

Median current market rent and average utilities (including electricity, heat, and water/sewer) comprise the total housing cost for each military housing area and are included in the Basic Allowance for Housing computation. Total housing costs are developed for six housing profiles (based on dwelling type and number of bedrooms) in each military housing area. Basic Allowance for Housing rates are then calculated for each pay grade, both with and without dependents.

An integral part of the Basic Allowance for Housing program is the provision of individual rate protection to all members. No matter what happens to measured housing costs – including the out-of-pocket cost sharing adjustment noted above, an individual member who maintains uninterrupted Basic Allowance for Housing eligibility in a given location will not see his/her Basic Allowance for Housing rate decrease. This ensures that members who have made long-term commitments in the form of a lease or contract are not penalized if the area’s housing costs decrease.

The Department is committed to the preservation of a compensation and benefit structure that provides members with a suitable and secure standard of living to sustain a trained, experienced, and ready force now and in the future.

For more information on Basic Allowance for Housing, including the 2016 Basic Allowance for Housing rates and 2016 Basic Allowance for Housing rate component breakdown, visit Service members can calculate their BAH payment by using the Basic Allowance for Housing calculator at:

FY17 Promotion Boards

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The NAVADMIN that announced the FY17 promotion boards is out.  The full NAVADMIN can be found here:

The dates of the promotion boards are:

  • 2 FEB 2016 – Staff Corps Captain
  • 22 MAR 2016 – Staff Corps Commander
  • 10 MAY 2016 – Staff Corps Lieutenant Commander

The promotion zones are:

"The Secretary of the Navy has authorized the release of the following 
list indicating the names, Active-Duty List numbers and dates of rank of the 
Senior in-zone, Junior in-zone and Junior officer eligible for consideration 
for promotion in each competitive category as of the date of this NAVADMIN.  
In addition, those officers on the Active-Duty List and in the same 
competitive category who are senior to the Senior in-zone officer listed in 
their category are considered above-zone and are also eligible for 
Medical Corps (210X)
Senior in-zone -  CDR A. J. Vanderweele Jr. 022444-50 01 OCT 2010
Junior in-zone -  CDR M. P. Shusko          022908-50 01 SEP 2011
Junior eligible - CDR R. S. Montgomery      023324-37 01 SEP 2013

Medical Corps (210X)
Senior in-zone -  LCDR J. M. Montgomery    035607-00  01 OCT 2010
Junior in-zone -  LCDR E. B. Rizo          037423-12  09 SEP 2011
Junior eligible - LCDR A. M. Cuellar       039165-00  01 SEP 2013

Medical Corps (210X)
Senior in-zone   LT J. M. Raunig          106784-00  05 OCT 2010
Junior in-zone -  LT A. C. Buchholz        111950-00  22 SEP 2011
Junior eligible  LT A. C. Alex            124244-00  12 SEP 2013

If you want to prepare for your upcoming promotion board, read:

Joel Schofer's Promo Prep Guidance - 25 OCT 2015

Highlights of BUMED Specialty Leader Business Meeting

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I was recently selected to be the Emergency Medicine Specialty Leader, and earlier this week I attended the BUMED Business Meeting for Specialty Leaders and Program Directors.  Below are the highlights I thought were of interest to a general Medical Corps audience:

  1. BUPERS is removing the AZ (above zone) and IZ (in zone) stamps on the Officer Summary Records (OSR) for all promotion boards starting with the upcoming FY17 promotion boards.  Some feel that when officers are labelled “AZ” that board members assume that something must be wrong with them since they failed to select previously.  This is being done to reduce the chance of that bias (if it even really exists).  Obviously if you have been passed over for promotion and you have a ton of FITREPs at your current rank or the board members closely scrutinize your date of rank on the OSR, they will be able to figure out pretty easily that you are AZ, but without the stamp it will make it harder for them to do so.
  2. There is a POSSIBILITY that they change the promotions in the future so that the top 10% of officers selected for promotion get to put the new rank on first.  Currently the order your promote is based on your lineal number and seniority.  In other words, the officers who have been passed over most get to put the new rank on first.  They MAY switch to a system where merit determines who promotes sooner rather than seniority.
  3. DMHRSi is something that very few Medical Corps officers like, but you should realize that the data you put into it is clearly used by BUMED to make decisions that impact manning and measure your productivity.  You should do what you can to correctly reflect your workload in DMHRSi.
  4. The rollout of the new electronic medical record is slated to begin in the Pacific northwest in 2016, but it MIGHT be pushed to the right into 2017.  The total rollout is scheduled over a 5 year period.
  5. The career intermission program is being expanded.  You can use it to take up to 3 years off, essentially hitting the pause button on your career.  You retain 1/15th of your basic pay and your benefits, like TRICARE, and will owe a 2 for 1 time to the Navy upon your return.  For example, if you take 2 years off, you’ll owe 4 years when you return to active duty.  When you return, your lineal number and promotion cycle is reset so that you don’t lose any time and you jump back into a year group that you can compete with for promotion.  There is info on the program here, OPNAV 1330.2B – Navy Career Intermission Program Guidelines or at this website.
  6. The conference approval process is arduous and painful, but it MIGHT be getting easier.  For now it will remain the same and require multiple forms.  If you are going to something that is a “course” and not a “conference” then your Specialty Leader can see if BUMED legal will exempt the course from the approval process.  The POC in that office says that courses have been exempted successfully, and once they are exempted then all officers can use that exemption if their command is willing to pay for the course.  Here is the conference approval webpage.  You should always check here for the latest information.

4th Step to Financial Freedom – Contribute Maximally to Your Tax-Favored Retirement Accounts

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The benefits of tax-favored retirement plans like the Thrift Savings Plan or an Individual Retirement Account (IRA) are too great to ignore, and over the span of your career sheltering your investment earnings from the taxman will benefit you tremendously.  For example, assume that you make a $4,000 annual contribution for 45 years and earn an 8% annual return.  Here is how much you would have if you invested in a taxable investment account versus a tax-deferred account:

  • Taxable investment total – $604,407
  • Tax-deferred investment total – $1,669,670

As you can see, the power of keeping your investment returns and not paying taxes on them can lead to huge differences in the amount of investment growth you will experience.

The primary tax-favored investment account that is available to us is the Thrift Savings Plan (TSP).  If possible, you should always contribute the maximum amount each year, which is $18,000/year in 2015 and 2016 ($24,000/year if you are over 50).  You may be able to contribute more if you are deployed in a combat zone.  See this TSP Annual Limit on Elective Deferrals PDF to read about the details.

After you fill your TSP, open an IRA and, again, contribute the maximum amount each year.  The contribution limits for 2015 and 2016 are $5,500/year ($6,500/year if you are over 50).

For both the TSP and IRA you’ll face the decision of whether to contribute to a Roth or traditional version.  Roth contributions are taxed now, meaning you make after tax contributions and future withdrawals are tax free.  Traditional contributions are taxed when you withdraw, meaning you make pre-tax contributions now and pay taxes later.  For younger or military people, the Roth is usually more advantageous because your tax rate is lower than it will be in the future, but there are many on-line calculators to help you decide which option is best for you, including:

Here is a great comparison chart from Vanguard:

The Roth IRA does require an adjusted gross income of less than $117,000/year (single) or $184,000/year (married) in 2016 to fully contribute, but there is a way around this called a “backdoor” Roth IRA.  For a tutorial on how to do this, go to:

If you moonlight as an independent contractor (you’ll know because you will be paid with a Form 1099), you will have other tax-favored options available to you, including a SEP-IRA or Solo 401k.  In these accounts you can often contribute a lot more money.  For a full discussion of them see:

The bottom line is that to maximize your net worth you need to maximize your contributions to all tax-favored retirement accounts you have available to you.  Hiding your investment earnings from the taxman will allow you to accumulate a lot more for retirement.