Rule’s enforcement means no more Seoul stays for departing Area I servicemembers
CAMP RED CLOUD, South Korea — As the “PCS season” approaches, servicemembers stationed north of Seoul will no longer be spending their last days on the peninsula at the Dragon Hill Lodge.
Officials say U.S. Forces Korea is now enforcing a regulation on temporary living allowance that was sidestepped for years within U.S. Army Garrison-Red Cloud, also known as Area I.
As a result, servicemembers leaving Area I for a permanent change of station must stay at the Casey Lodge in Dongducheon — which is farther from the international airport at Incheon than the Dragon Hill — or remain in their barracks after their belongings get shipped.
Many servicemembers will make that choice in the late spring and summer, which are typically busy times for duty station changes.
While free shuttle buses leave the Dragon Hill Lodge five times a day, they leave Camp Casey only twice a day, at 6:20 a.m. and 4:50 p.m. They leave Camp Red Cloud at 7 a.m. and 5:30 p.m.
In average traffic, a bus ride to the airport takes one hour from the Dragon Hill Lodge. The same shuttle bus coming from Dongducheon and stopping at both Camp Red Cloud and Yongsan Garrison would take between 2½ and three hours.
That means a servicemember at Camp Casey whose flight leaves at 7 p.m. would have to catch the 6:20 a.m. bus and wait about 10 hours at the airport — unless private transportation is used.
At Camp Red Cloud, some soldiers are passing up the housing allowance rather than stay in Dongducheon, soldiers said Wednesday. Instead, they are staying in their barracks after all their belongings have been shipped.
“The majority of my soldiers are staying in their rooms,” said Sgt. 1st Class Tennyson Grant of the 2nd Infantry Division’s Special Troops Battalion. “I think they should have more options.”
Grant, who is leaving for his new station soon, will be taking a local bus from the Uijeongbu city bus terminal for 11,000 won (about $11) to catch his afternoon flight.
A private company is now offering regular airport shuttle service for 11,000 won from Camp Casey’s main gate. For timetables in English, call Lee Ui-jeong at (031) 840-1623.
The Dongducheon private bus ride takes at least two hours.
A USFK regulation from 2003 states that temporary lodging allowance won’t be paid if a servicemember isn’t staying in the vicinity of his or her permanent duty station, which is the reason for the change.
Area I housing manager Clara Greenway said the 175th Financial Management Center stopped approving allowance money for Area I soldiers to stay at the Dragon Hill Lodge in December.
Greenway said she understood that many servicemembers would rather spend the final days of their tour in Seoul. However, in terms of Area I duty stations, “Casey Lodge is closer than Dragon Hill Lodge.”
For several years, soldiers from Area I had been staying in Seoul, and no one questioned it until recently, she said.
On rare occasions, when there is no room in the Casey Lodge, servicemembers can stay at off-post hotels in Area I, officials said Monday.