'Not' in the line of duty

  • Published
  • By 55th Wing Judge Advocate and Force Support Squadron
  • 55 WG/JA / 55 WG/FSS
Over the past few months Air Combat Command and the 55th Wing have experienced unfortunate accidents resulting in injury and death to several of our most treasured resource, America's Airmen. In addition to the physical and emotional pain and suffering of these tragedies and the loss to our Air Force's mission capabilities, these incidents also trigger the need for a line of duty determination. And a determination of "Not in the line of duty - due to own misconduct" can have significant consequences for an Airman, as well as dependents.

AFI 36-2910, Line of Duty (Misconduct) Determination, provides the authority for LOD determinations. If the LOD investigation determines the injury or death was the result of the Airman's reckless or wanton disregard for their own safety or the safety of others, a determination of "Not in the line of duty - due to own misconduct" is appropriate.
The consequences of such a determination are several. For example, any time spent in the hospital or on convalescent leave due to the injury is considered "lost" time and extends the Airman's term of enlistment. The determination may also impact an Airman's life following separation from the Air Force. If complications from the injury require follow-up medical care, the Department of Veterans Affairs may determine the Airman is not eligible for VA benefits or other medical treatment because of the Airman's misconduct. Additionally, a "Not in the line of duty - due to own misconduct" finding may result in the Airman's loss of disability benefits otherwise associated with the injury, as well as educational assistance.

In cases where an Airman's death is due to misconduct, the financial consequences for surviving dependents can also be great. For example, under the Survivor Benefit Plan, dependent children may receive monthly support payments, in varying amounts based on the deceased Airman's rank, until the dependent reaches age 18 (age 22, if a full-time student). Recently a family lost a $981 per month SBP payment based on a "Not in the line of duty - due to own misconduct" determination. Similarly, the VA's Dependency and Indemnity Compensation, a non-taxable payment of $1154 per month to a surviving spouse and $286 per month for any surviving child until age 18, can be lost.

On-and off-duty, Airmen must always make safety a top priority, applying operational risk management considerations at all times. Furthermore, honoring the Air Force core values and living a life of compliance to our nation's laws and Air Force instructions is a 24/ 7/365 obligation. Driving a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol or drugs; recklessly disregarding posted speed limits or other traffic rules; or otherwise acting in a manner that disregards one's personal safety or the safety of others, may all qualify as misconduct in a later LOD determination should injury or death result. And such a determination risks further pain and suffering for the injured or deceased Airman's loved ones. Don't be "that guy."