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Feature | Aug. 22, 2011

Web Savvy - Effectively using Air Force Portal

By Tech. Sgt. Randy Redman 633rd Air Base Wing Public Affairs

Since its launch in 2000, the Air Force Portal has become the first place Airmen should look to for information regarding military pay, education benefits and even career moves. However, getting the most effective use out of the Portal can be a tenuous task, even for web-savvy Airmen.

The Portal is a central location to access a variety of different types of information available to all servicemembers, no matter where they may be serving. Throughout their career, Airmen can use the Portal to quickly find authoritative and relevant data and applications and collaboration tools to help complete the mission, whatever it may be. Airmen can think of the Portal as the gateway to the Air Force Intranet.

The Portal is really just a presentation layer for several Air Force applications. It is available to all users, anytime and anywhere an Internet connection is available, from either .com or .mil connections. This means that even in deployed and potentially austere locations, Airmen can ensure their pay is accurate or even apply for education benefits.

The Portal links to applications like myPay, Defense Travel System, virtual Military Personnel Flight, Automated Records Management System, Fitness Management Systems, Advanced Distributed Learning System and much more.

Jan Whitehead, 633rd Force Support Squadron Force Management lead, said the objective of vMPF is to make a number of personnel actions available to servicemembers from their computer without having to come to the Military Personnel Section. This saves time and effort for both the servicemember and MPS customer service.

"It puts a number of actions at the member's fingertips," said Whitehead, listing actions such as updating personal records for accuracy, reviewing awards and decorations, and applying for various assignment options. She added that a number of applications within vMPF have instructions with them, making it easy for a member to maneuver within online applications.

"There are several avenues that have been made available to members to assist them with ensuring their information is accurately updated in a timely manner; vMPF is just one of the avenues. It is important that members review their personnel records annually," said Whitehead. "A good time to conduct an annual review of records would be on the anniversary month the member entered the Air Force. Everyone should take a vested interest in what their personnel records are saying."

Airmen now receive assignment notifications via vMPF and once logged in can view all the details about their new assignment versus waiting for their MPS to notify their commander.

The Air Force Personnel Services website, which also has a link located on the Portal, is also another great tool for members to utilize. It has all the up-to-date information for active-duty members, Guard, reservists, retirees and civilians.

For Airmen interested in pursuing higher learning, logging into the Portal should be the first thing on their to-do list. The Air Force has mandated that all Airmen wanting to take advantage of their active-duty tuition assistance benefit must use the Air Force Virtual Education Center to apply.

Ronald Duquette, 633rd FSS Supervisory Education Services specialist, said Airmen going to AFVEC through the Portal can review their education record to make necessary changes in their personal data.

"They can ensure grades are posted correctly after classes were completed," said Duquette. "Enlisted members can pull up their Community College of the Air Force progress report prior to their appointment or before walking in. Airmen can see how CCAF applied college credit for their tech school completion and they can verify that all tech schools attended are listed. Airmen can also verify the CCAF degree title is loaded correctly to their (primary Air Force Specialty Code) in CCAF's WebPR. Airmen can request a CCAF transcript be sent directly to anyone in the world, any time, and it's free."

Duquette also said Airmen can see when requested CCAF transcripts were sent out, per their request, and when transcripts were received by CCAF. Airmen can also review CLEP/DANTES exams that apply to their CCAF degree goals and find study guide materials, and practice tests, for the exams they plan to take.

"With the advent of AFVEC, Airmen have access to their education goal, whether it's with CCAF or another accredited school. They can see exactly what classes remain and how many credits they need to complete their degree goals," said Duquette. "Online AFVEC preparation saves Airmen waiting time and allows us to better serve each valued customer's needs.

Additional benefits of the Portal include fewer passwords to remember and collaboration tools such as Communities of Practice and Defense Connect Online, which is a DOD-Wide Collaboration Center for electronic meetings. The Portal also includes a customizable workspace so the most used information and applications can be organized right up front.

You may login to the Portal by accessing the home page and registering for an account. You must have an e-mail account so the temporary password can be emailed to you for your initial login. One key area of the Portal login page includes membership Information. You may view account requirements and benefits, register for a new Portal account with a Common Access Card, enable your CAC certificate, view the CAC user's guide, review frequently asked questions and contact the Portal help desk.

You can also access the Friends and Family Instant Messenger to sponsor a friend or family member. FFIM is a free, online service which allows you to communicate with your friends or family in the Air Force. To join FFIM, non-account holders need to be sponsored by a friend or family member who has an active Portal account. There is also an FFIM tutorial to assist you in setting up an FFIM account.

Top Links on the Air Force Portal
(Most of these require a secure login)

· AMS - Assignment Management System
· AFPAAS-AF Personnel Accountability & Assessment
· AF Personnel Services
· AFPC Secure Applications
· ARMS-Automated Records Mgt
· LeaveWeb
· myPay
· PIPS/eFinance
· PRDA-Personnel Records Display
· Travel Vouchers (DTS)
· virtual Finance
· virtual MPF
· vPC-GR-virtual Personnel Center-Guard Reserve