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BEAUMONT v. ORR

January 10, 1985

ROBERT H. BEAUMONT, et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
VERNE ORR, Secretary of the Department of the Air Force, et al., Defendants



The opinion of the court was delivered by: HOGAN

 The plaintiffs in this action are twenty-nine dentists, all currently serving as Dental Officers with the United States Air Force. Plaintiffs challenge defendants' position that the plaintiffs are ineligible for "continuation pay" as provided for by 37 U.S.C. § 311 and applicable Department of Defense and Air Force regulations. This case is presently before the Court on defendants' motion to dismiss under Rules 12(b)(1) and (6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure for lack of subject matter jurisdiction and failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. Upon consideration of defendants' motion and plaintiffs' opposition thereto, and after hearing oral argument on the motion, the Court concludes that this action must be dismissed.

 Background

 Each of the plaintiffs in this action received his dental education and training under a fully-funded program sponsored by the United States Air Force. Under this program, as governed by Air Force Regulation (AFR) 36-13, all of the plaintiffs were commissioned Medical Service Corps officers while in dental school, receiving a salary while they pursued their education. In addition, all expenses for tuition, fees and books were paid for by the Air Force. In exchange for this dental training, the plaintiffs committed themselves to the Air Force for three months for each month of their education. Plaintiffs acknowledge that as a result of their participation in the fully-funded educational program, they incurred an Active Duty Service Commitment ("ASDC") with the Air Force of approximately nine years.

 All of the plaintiffs successfully completed dental school under the Air Force program. Consequently, upon graduating, all of the plaintiffs were recommissioned in the Air Force as Dental Officers, and continue to serve in that capacity. As a result of being recommissioned as Dental Officers, plaintiffs incurred an ASDC of four years, which may be completed concurrently with their nine year ASDC for dental training. AFR 36-13; 36-51.

 Plaintiffs have now all served as Dental Officers for at least four years, and challenge the Air Force' position that they are ineligible for "continuation pay" until after completion of their approximately nine year ASDC for dental training. Continuation pay is a statutorily authorized bonus that may be given to selected military dentists in exchange for their agreement to remain in the military. The statutory provision for continuation pay specifically states:

 
Under regulations to be prescribed by the Secretary of Defense, an officer of the Army or Navy in the Dental Corps or an officer of the Air Force who is designated as a dental officer who --
 
(A) is serving on active duty in a critical specialty designated by the Secretary of Defense;
 
(B) has completed his initial active-duty obligation ; and
 
(C) executed a written agreement to remain on active duty for at least one additional year;
 
may be paid not more than four months' basic pay . . . when he executes that agreement for each additional year that he agrees to remain on active duty. . . .

 37 U.S.C. § 311 (emphasis added).

 The Department of Defense Directive that implements the continuation pay statute with respect to dentists has consistently defined a dental officer's "initial active duty service obligation" as the "first obligation to serve on active duty for a specified period of time imposed on Medical or Dental Corps officers by a law other than . . . [ 37 U.S.C. § 311] or imposed by a regulation issued by the Secretary of Defense or the Secretary of a Military Department. See DOD Directive 1340.8 [hereinafter "the DOD directive"]. Likewise, with one exception which is not the source of plaintiff's challenge here, the Air Force Regulations implementing DOD directive 1340.8 have consistently embodied essentially the same definition of initial active duty service requirement. AFR 36-8. *fn1"

 In this action, plaintiffs contend that the Air Force has erroneously interpreted the definition of initial active duty service requirement contained in the DOD directive and Air Force regulation to require them to complete the nine year ASDC incurred as the result of their dental education before regarding them as eligible for continuation pay. Plaintiffs argue that their first obligation to serve on active duty imposed on them as "Medical or Dental Corps Officers" is the four year ASDC they incurred as the result of being commissioned as a Dental Officer after ...


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