Airmen and Marines will be reimbursed leave days charged for coronavirus quarantine
By ERICA EARL | STARS AND STRIPES Published: December 10, 2020
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Airmen who were charged for leave while on mandatory coronavirus quarantine may have those days restored, Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force JoAnne Bass said Monday.
The Marine Corps will also reimburse that time, Maj. Kenneth Kunze, a spokesperson for the 1st Marine Aircraft Wing, wrote in an email to Stars and Stripes on Wednesday.
Since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, service members who traveled for either mission-essential or personal reasons were sometimes required to isolate 14 days as a safety precaution.
Headquarters Air Force posted an order Monday that the two weeks spent on mandatory quarantine would not count against leave days, according to Bass’ post, even if that travel was not mission essential. This waiver decision was backdated to Nov. 20.
“Sharing this win in case you hadn’t gotten word yet,” Bass said in her Facebook post Monday.
Airmen will be able to recoup all leave days charged for any time in quarantine on or after Aug. 6.
Marines do not have a cut-off date for recovering leave, Kunze said.
Service members in either branch wishing to have quarantine leave days restored will need to work with their squadron or unit commander to get a memo drafted.
For airmen to reclaim leave days charged amid the pandemic, Bass said, the memo needs to include the member’s rank, original leave number, original leave dates and the dates of quarantine. This information should be turned in to the service member’s local financial management flight.
Spokespeople for the Army and the Marines on Wednesday told Stars and Stripes via email and phone calls that quarantine after travel for any reason, including holiday travel, will not be charged as leave.
The Army did not respond to inquiries about how their reimbursement policies would work, but Kevin Krejcarek, a spokesperson for U.S. Army Japan, said no soldiers under the command have requested reimbursement for leave charged during quarantine.
The conversation around charging leave for quarantine after personal travel began buzzing in October, when Chief Master Sgt. Rick Winegardner of U.S. Forces Japan raised the issue during a question-and-answer session with American Forces Network Radio. Winegardner at the time said USFJ and Indo-Pacific Command were working to simplify the leave policy in time for the holidays.