Retired service members, along with active duty and reserve troops, have long had the ability to travel free of cost among military installations through the Space-Available travel program. However, fully disabled veterans were not eligible for the program until August 2018, when lawmakers wrote a measure into the John S. McCain National Defense Authorization Act. The act also includes a 2.6 percent basic pay increase for active duty members.
The bill was introduced by Rep. Gus Bilirakis, who also serves as vice chairman of the House Veterans Affairs Committee, in 2017. He noted that if military aircraft has space available for military service members, veterans who are fully disabled should be welcome, as well. Those eligible for the program can travel anywhere in the United States as well as to Puerto Rico, Guam, American Samoa, and the US Virgin Islands.
The author, an alumnus of Valdosta State College, Brigadier General (retired) Carl Buhler (https://bit.ly/2AN3DVD) leverages over 28 years of aerospace logistics leadership experience with the United States Air Force and now serves as CEO of Richmond, Virginia-based Buhler Consulting, LLC (https://buhlerconsulting.com). Now retired from the Air Force, Carl Buhler maintains membership with multiple relevant professional organizations, including the Military Officers Association of America.
One of the missions of the Air Force Association (AFA) is to promote a dominant US Air Force. The AFA accomplishes this by educating the public on the need for aerospace power and advocating for STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) education.
Today’s students carry the future of tomorrow’s Air Force. To equip them with the skills they need to pursue STEM career paths and innovate for the future, AFA established StellarXplorers. This is a program that challenges high school students to competitively solve space system challenges involving aspects of spacecraft system development and operations. Students compete in teams of two to six supervised by a team director (teacher).
Teams are drawn from high schools, School Clubs, JROTC, Boy/Girl Scouts, and organized youth organizations. Participation is free up until the first qualifying round where a $200 registration fee is required. Teams receive an academic online curriculum and specific training kit for system simulation software. They also must solve a space design problem. Participants go through three qualification rounds before the semifinal and final rounds. To learn more, please visit http://www.stellarxplorers.org/.
The author, Virginia resident Carl Buhler is the CEO of Buhler Consulting, LLC (https://buhlerconsulting.com) and is a retired Brigadier General from the US Air Force. Carl Buhler is also a member of the AFA.