Like all military personnel, Air Force members rely on their loved ones for emotional support and a connection to home. While dating a civilian is generally allowed, specific policies apply to airmen who want to date fellow service members. These rules are in place because rank is critical to military service. Dating or other highly familiar relationships between a supervisor and a subordinate could erode morale, damage unit cohesion and place the dating partners as well as their unit in dangerous or difficult situations.
Recruiters, Educators and Trainers
Those who are responsible for the recruitment or education of airmen are not permitted to date or form social relationships with those for whom they are responsible. This is true regardless of the respective ranks of the individuals involved. In addition, recruiters, educators and trainers may not become socially involved with any member of the recruit or trainee’s immediate family. Professional support for the individual and the individual's family is crucial, and personal relationships have the potential to damage that vital support.
Counselors and Caregivers
Like recruiters and educators, counselors and caregivers have a strong professional obligation to those who rely on their services. Pastors, legal advisers, medical staff and psychological personnel are covered under this regulation. They are specifically forbidden from engaging in sexual relationships or making sexual overtures toward those who are under their care or their immediate families, and should use extreme caution when forming any sort of social relationship. Always remember that the imbalance of power is strong, and using your position for any sort of perceived gain is prohibited.
Officers and Enlisted
Fraternization regulations forbid the development of social relationships between officers and enlisted personnel. It does not matter if the officer and the enlisted member are on entirely different chains of command. Marriages between officers and enlisted personnel do exist and are not necessarily forbidden. These cases typically occur when a civilian or enlisted airman, who is married to an enlisted airman, is later commissioned as an officer. However, a later marriage does not exempt the couple from punishment for fraternization that occurred when one was an officer and the other was enlisted.
Chain of Command Issues
Relationships between enlisted personnel or between officers are generally allowed, unless one is a direct subordinate of the other. Keep in mind, however, that the relationship becomes a matter of Air Force concern if it begins to affect morale, cohesion or other vital areas of Air Force unit life. The greater the difference in rank between you, the greater chance the relationship has of affecting your unit. Relationships with civilian employees or contractors are highly discouraged, while relationships with members of another service branch fall under the same general guidelines as those between two members of the Air Force.
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