The mission of the Air Force is to defend the U.S. against attack by air, space or cyberspace. To that end, this organization focuses on quickly and decisively responding to engagements anywhere in the world, gathering superior information and providing combat support. Recruits start at the enlisted airman level but may rise through the ranks to become a colonel, with an appropriate rise in salary.
The Air Force uses the same pay chart that is used by all members of the Armed Forces. This military pay table divides compensation into those for enlisted, warrant officers and officers. Within each of those groups, wages are further broken up according to rank and number of years served. A colonel (O-6 rank, which is an officer designation) makes from $70,440 per year for two years or less of service to $124,692 per year for over 30 years of service.
Air Force colonels may live on base where room and board are free. Those that choose to live off military facilities receive a housing allowance that is based on marital status, the number of family members and geographic posting. In addition, they also receive a flat monthly food allowance. This compensation goes further at on-base retail stores, where goods are tax-free.
Other benefits for Air Force colonels include comprehensive medical and dental care, paid sick leave and life insurance. Family members also receive medical and dental care at little to no cost. Education is available for free on base, or is reimbursed at civilian schools, and those stationed overseas will receive free education for their children on-base. Colonels receive 30 days of vacation, plus air travel for a nominal fee on military aircraft if space is available. Finally, officer's clubs provide social events for members, spouses and guests. Air Force bases may also have such facilities as golf courses, bowling areas, tennis courts and swimming pools.
After 20 years of service, Air Force personnel may retire with pensions based on a portion of their final basic pay. However, those who stay for 40 years, at the discretion of the Air Force, can receive full basic pay. Retirement pay goes up each year to match the cost of living. Other retirement benefits include education, health care, insurance coverage for a small fee, relocation to anywhere in the continental U.S. at government expense, and funeral services provided by the Department of Veterans Affairs.