Monday, March 16, 2009

Helpful info during deployments

This was posted on the Army Moms Cafemom Group... its another way for us to maybe help take some stress off of our shoulders during times of seperation. Heres the article.

Military families of deployed personnel may be able to save some travel money thanks to a new Space A policy for families. As of Dec. 6, 2007, spouses and children of personnel deployed 120 days or longer now can use military transport in CONUS, to/from CONUS, and within/between theater, provided they have a verification letter from the military member's commander.

In the past, only overseas-based dependents could travel to the States or within theater on one round trip. The new policy allows family members, regardless of where they are based, to travel unaccompanied for unlimited times during the deployment when seats are available. Children under the age of 18 still need an eligible parent or legal guardian to travel with them.

"This policy is intended to provide better support for the military families during a deployment period," says Lt. Col. Michael Holmes, of the Office of the Assistant Deputy Undersecretary of Defense for Transportation Policy. The travel option is also available to Guard and Reserve families, as well as Navy families whose military sponsor is assigned to a deployed ship with PCS orders.

While many may use the privilege to visit parents and grandparents, the guidelines do not restrict travel to home of record or family-based visits. That makes the policy more equitable and useful, since many people's extended families may not live in their home of record. In addition, some families may find help and encouragement in a visit to friends at a previous base, or through a low-cost vacation getaway.

Space A, which is based on availability, often involves waiting to gain space on a flight (and the government won't cover meals, lodging or other costs associated with that). Even so, families - especially those with children - could find this to be a real boost to their travel budget. A family of four based on the West Coast who wants to travel to the East Coast to stay with grandparents for a few weeks could potentially save up to a few thousand dollars in airline tickets. Of course, there's no guarantee with Space A flights, but for those who can take the time, the opportunity for free flights can be not only a morale-booster, but also a money-saver.

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