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Travel Policy Change Benefits Military Families

By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Dec. 17, 2007 – Military families now can travel on Defense Department-owned or contracted aircraft in Space-Available status without sponsors when their servicemembers are deployed for 120 days or more, thanks to a recent policy change, a military official said.

Before the change, which became effective Dec. 6, family members of military personnel could only travel unaccompanied from an overseas location to the continental United States or travel within an overseas theater of operation, said Air Force Lt. Col. Michael R. Holmes, with the office of the assistant deputy undersecretary of defense for transportation policy.

The previous policy also restricted travel to just one round trip during the military sponsor’s deployment period, Holmes said.

The intent of the previous policy, Holmes said, was to allow military families stationed overseas to return to the United States, where an extended family support structure could assist them, during their military member’s deployment.

The new policy does not restrict travel just to families’ homes of record within the United States, Holmes said. Spouses and dependents can fly Space-A in Category 4 unaccompanied to and from the states to overseas locales, within the U.S., and within or between overseas locations, during the deployment time period, he said.

“We have a significant number of military personnel whose spouses and extended families may not reside in the continental U.S.,” Holmes explained.

Military families can save considerable money by using Space-A flights instead of commercial airlines, Holmes said. However, family members under age 18 must be accompanied by an eligible parent or legal guardian, according to Defense Department documents explaining the new policy.

Family members using Space-A transport under the new policy also require a verification letter signed by the military sponsor’s commander verifying the servicemember’s deployment, according to Defense Department documents.

The Space-A travel program is a privilege, not an entitlement, and travel is not guaranteed, Holmes said. The privilege is extended to military family members in recognition of their support to the mission being performed by their sponsors and to enhance quality of life for servicemembers and their families, according to Air Force Air Mobility Command documents.

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