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Popular social media trend may violate DOD regulations

WASHINGTON (AFNS) -- A young woman paced herself as she ran around her neighborhood, her breath visible as the brisk morning air cycled through her lungs, the wind blowing her hair back, and her cheeks stinging from the elements. She dodged people walking their dogs, trash cans left out for pickup, and finally reached a pausing point where she took out her phone.

Dressed in civilian workout attire, she performed a pushup challenge on camera, and then explained to her social media audience how the pushups were intended to raise awareness for veteran suicide prevention and honor fallen veterans.

In this scenario, no one could tell she had taken an oath and wore a military uniform to work.

Some Airmen have participated in similar activities while in uniform or at their workstations. While they are allowed to participate in activities to honor fallen Airmen or bring awareness to issues like suicide, if these activities are associated with any type of nonprofit, non-federal entity, or fundraising or membership campaign, it cannot be done in an official capacity.

Participation in one's official capacity, however well-intentioned, may be perceived as federal endorsement of a non-federal entity. Even if an Airman doesn’t mean to formally imply Air Force endorsement of any particular non-profit entity or cause, participation in uniform has the potential of giving the appearance of official endorsement by the Air Force.

Airmen interested in supporting nonprofit organizations and fundraising causes may do so if they follow established guidelines, such as Air Force Instruction 36-3101, “Fundraising within the Air Force,” Department of Defense Regulation 5500.07-R, “Joint Ethics Regulation,” and Office of Government Ethic’s regulations on standards of ethical conduct for executive branch employees, 5 C.F.R. 263.808.

There are limited exceptions for the Combined Federal Campaign, military relief societies, disaster appeals approved by the Office of Personnel Management, and groups made up primarily of DOD employees and their family members. The local staff judge advocate’s office is available to assist Airmen and employees who have questions about these rules.

Basic considerations to keep in mind when supporting nonprofits:

• Fundraising cannot be done during duty hours, although lunch hours are permissible.
• No form of endorsement is allowed while in uniform.
• No fundraising is allowed in the workplace.
• Fundraising by private organizations and unofficial activities can generally not occur during CFC or Air Force Assistance Fund.

Ready to continue her run, the woman saw several people had liked her post, not because she was military but because they believed in the cause.