Spouses and children of troops deployed for more than 365 days now have precedence over all other unaccompanied dependents when traveling on space-available flights.

The change is militarywide, and also includes families of sailors who have permanent change of station orders on a deployed ship. In a June 4 memo, Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Logistics and Materiel Readiness Jack Bell announced that, "In a continuing effort to recognize the unwavering support and contributions of spouses and dependent children of our deployed military members, the provision … is revised for family members whose sponsors are serving on deployments exceeding 365 consecutive days."

The memo stated that the affected family members will now be able to travel in a "Category III" status as opposed to "Category IV," where unaccompanied dependents usually stand.

"For military members who deployed for 365 days or less, but were extended beyond 365 days, eligible family members may travel in Category III status effective on the date the extension beyond 365 days was ordered," according to the memo. Though the spouses and kids of long-deployed troops move up in the queue, normal "Category III" personnel, mainly troops traveling with their families, will maintain precedence.

"It’s a big boost in morale for folks trying to get back home," said Air Force Capt. Alex Fletcher, a logistics and plans officer for U.S. European Command. Though Bell’s memo was dated June 4, EUCOM was given authority to release the information Wednesday. Plans had been in the works for the policy change since at least February, Fletcher said.

"It started stirring within [U.S. Army Europe] since the majority of folks who are gone that long are Army folks," Fletcher said.

Department of Defense Regulation 4515.13-R "Air Transportation Eligibility," the policy governing the order of merit for space-available travel, is currently under revision, the memo said.

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