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SEOUL — For the first time, the majority of servicemembers in parts of U.S. Army Garrison-Red Cloud will be able to obtain command sponsorships for their families, U.S. Forces Korea Commander Gen. Walter Sharp said Friday.

Effective immediately, servicemembers at camps Red Cloud, Stanley and Jackson can move their families to South Korea under the Status of Forces Agreement and receive off-post housing allowance and other benefits.

However, at the Camp Casey enclave — where the bulk of the 2nd Infantry Division’s two South Korea ground brigades are stationed — nearly all servicemembers must still serve one-year, unaccompanied tours because Joint Federal Travel Regulations still prevent command sponsorships there.

Sharp will continue looking hard to "see if it’s a smart thing to do," he said of the Casey restriction.

Sharp’s concerns for Camp Casey servicemembers, as well as for those who want command sponsorships at eligible bases, are the limited services available to families.

Bases within U.S. Army Garrison-Red Cloud, also known as Area I, will close when USFK moves its servicemembers to an expanded Camp Humphreys, south of Seoul. That plan is tentatively scheduled for 2012, and Sharp says he should have a firmer timeline within weeks.

Because of the planned move, Area I can’t get extensive funding for expanded family services.

"We’re not going to be able to build schools, and we’re not going to be building a hospital [within the garrison]," Sharp added.

Sharp’s policy letter, which became public Saturday at www.usfk.mil, requires servicemembers to sign a counseling form saying they understand the limitations on benefits for command-sponsored families.

Servicemembers who request command sponsorship will sign on for two years instead of a one-year, unaccompanied tour. Those tours could eventually be extended to three years following the move to Humphreys.

"We’re not ready to go to three-year tours now because all the facilities are not there [in Area I]," Sharp said.

Servicemembers can’t get command sponsorship if their unit is based at one of the three new eligible camps, but they themselves work at a noncommand-sponsored base.

Command-sponsored children at the eligible camps will be able to attend Yongsan Garrison schools, at least an hour bus ride each way.

They will be eligible to receive tuition for nearby private schools on a case-by-case basis and pending approval from the "non-DoD Schools Program Manager," according to Sharp and the new policy letter.

More information on that is available at http://pac.dodea.edu/edservices/NonDoDSchools/nondod.htm.

Sharp also says he will pursue Tricare Prime health coverage for dependents living in South Korea. Currently, dependents are eligible only for Tricare Standard, which pays significantly less expenses following a medical emergency.

Sharp flew to Washington on Saturday and said furthering command sponsorships and benefits will be on his agenda with lawmakers and Defense Department officials.

A little more than half of USFK’s roughly 28,000 servicemembers have dependents. Of those, only 28 percent have their family members with them, and only 14 percent are command-sponsored, according to USFK data.

That means thousands are spending their paychecks on off-post rent for their families.

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