U.S. Forces Japan issues guidance to returning family members
The following guidance was issued by the Joint Support Force, which includes U.S. Forces Japan, on Saturday, regarding the return of military families to U.S. bases in Japan:
• The Defense Department concurs with the State Department’s determination that the situation in Japan does not pose significant risk to U.S. citizens. We will continue to ensure the safety of our families is at the forefront of every decision we make. [For more information, refer to State Dept travel advisory.]
• Effective April 15, following the State Department’s lifting of the voluntary departure order, the DOD has terminated authorized departure of DOD family members from Honshu, Japan.
• Family members who departed under the voluntary authorized departure authority, or were prevented from returning due to stop movement, may now return, with the following exceptions:
• If the family members’ military sponsor is due to PCS within 60 days of the family members’ scheduled return date, families are not authorized to return, unless authorized by the member’s service secretary or designee.
• Families of civilian employees are not authorized to return if the employee is within 30 days of reassignment.
• The service secretaries are authorized to extend departure-related allowances. These include allowances for lodging and food and the $25/day local travel allowance to those families whose sponsor is within 60 days of tour completion (military sponsors) or 30 days of tour completion (civilian sponsors).
• To allow time to make transportation arrangements, depature-related allowances will terminate on April 25.
• Family members who departed under the authorized departure authority, or who interrupted travel under the Stop Movement, and who decide not to return to their sponsor’s primary duty station, may be authorized movement to a designated place under early return authority or use the sponsor’s permanent change of station orders to travel to the next permanent duty station, if applicable.
• Service member family members who evacuated with a command-sponsored school-aged dependent, and who enrolled that dependent in school at their temporary location, may remain with their school-aged dependent at their temporary location until the dependent completes his/her current school semester.
• Departure-related allowances for these military families will terminate one day after the current school semester ends. If a servicemember has two or more children, allowances will end one day following the latest semester end date.
• The total departure-related allowance may not exceed 180 days.
• Defense Department civilian families in similar situations may request transitional separate maintenance allowance. The period covered by the allowance may not exceed 90 days.
• A member whose family departed Japan under the authorized departure is authorized return transportation at government expense and quarantine for up to two household pets to the evacuated permanent duty station in Japan.
• Civilian employee dependents must return pets at their own expense. [Fiscal 2009 NDAA authorized pet transportation; there is no such authority for civilians.]
Allowances and Special Pays
• Effective May 1, 2011, the designation of certain locations in Japan as hardship duty locations, for purposes of paying Hardship Duty Pay-Location (HDP-L) in accordance with section 305 of title 37, United States Code, at a monthly HDP-L rate of $50, is terminated.
• The locations are as follows: Tokyo Capital Region, and the prefectures of Aichi, Kanagawa, Akita, Aomori, Chiba, Fukushima, Gunma, Ibaraki, Iwate, Miyagi, Nagano, Niigata, Saitama, Shizouka, Tochigi, Yamagata, and Yamanashi.
• For civilian employees, the 10% post hardship differential authorized by the Department of State for the locations noted above will terminate at the beginning of the next pay period.
• Family Separation Allowance was authorized for military members permanently assigned to the aforementioned areas if their eligible dependents participated in the authorized departure. If a member is receiving the allowance, the termination date could vary.
• Generally speaking, Family Separation Allowance will terminate once dependents are no longer authorized to receive VAD-related allowances.
• However, if family members are not authorized to return because their sponsors are due to depart PCS within 60 days, the separation allowance would continue until the member is reunited with the family.
• Dependents of military personnel: Departure-related allowances for a uniformed member's command-sponsored dependents for days 31-180 are up to 60 percent of the local per diem rate for dependents 12 years and above; dependents under 12 years receive up to 30 percent of the local per diem rate.
• Non-command sponsored dependents do not receive per diem at the temporary location.
• Departure-related allowances aren’t reduced until the 31st day at the temporary location.
• Dependents of civilian employees: Subsistence expense allowances are based on the temporary location per diem rate and begin the day the family reaches its authorized temporary location. For days 31-180, the first family member receives up to 100 percent (may be authorized up to 150 percent for special family compositions) of the lodging portion plus 8 percent Meals & Incidental Expense , each family member age 12 or older receives 80 percent meals & incidentals and each family member under 12 receives 40 percent.