Soldiers apply to keep families in South Korea
July 5, 2008
SEOUL — About a dozen soldiers have applied for exemptions to a policy that says their families must move out of base housing when they deploy directly to Iraq or Afghanistan from South Korea.
The 8th Army policy, which went into effect June 2, also says that family members will lose their U.S.-South Korea Status of Forces Agreement privileges and command sponsorship when the soldier makes a permanent change of station to the Middle East.
Families are allowed to remain in South Korea if they get an independent visa, such as an employment or 90-day tourist visa.
Maj. Jerome Pionk, 8th Army spokesman, said the 12 exemption requests are being reviewed individually.
He said the new rules under Command Policy No. 36 were enacted because previous regulations "were not entirely clear or did not identify the special needs" of families of deploying soldiers.
"We as an Army are in a new type of conflict, and the ways we conducted business in the past did not always properly address the needs of the current situation," he said.
The new policy is meant to clarify what happens when soldiers deploy so they can make better decisions about their families, said Pionk. He said he didn’t know how many soldiers stationed in South Korea had been deployed directly to Iraq or Afghanistan.
The two-page document says a command-sponsored family will have to move out of base housing after the active-duty member deploys, but the military will pay for the family’s off-post housing in South Korea. And if the soldier makes a PCS move to a U.S. base before going to the Middle East, the government will pay a family housing allowance for that stateside duty location.
The SOFA agreement defines the legal status of members of the U.S. military community, and allows them to remain in South Korea without getting a normal visa.