***UPDATE*** As of 1400, 19 March 2011 - FAQs on Authorized Voluntary Departure of DoD Dependents
Current as of 1400, 19 March 2011
Authored by USFJ/J06
AUTHORIZED DEPARTURE FAQ
Current as of 1400, 19 March 2011
The information that follows is intended to help families and commands understand the ongoing authorized departure mission. Please understand that some of the information is absolutely correct; other information is subject to change, based on circumstances, both of the affected travelers and how the authorized departure is conducted. Please keep in touch with your unit to obtain the latest information.
CONCEPT OF OPERATIONS:
As authorized, eligible DoD command-sponsored dependents may depart Honshu, Japan, to a safe haven site in the United States. Transportation will be via contracted commercial aircraft at government expense. Commanders at Misawa AB, Yokota AB, and Naval Air Station Atsugi have established local procedures for processing and manifesting eligible travelers. Those installations will serve as the aerial points of departure. Travel may require stops at interim staging bases (ISBs) for further travel to CONUS. Given the nature of this movement, travelers must be prepared for a variety of possible climates and conditions at the ISBs. Bring clothing appropriate for different climatic conditions. Anticipate staying at an ISB for up to one week. Depending on the location, travelers may not have access to their shipped baggage for short stays at the ISB so pack carry-ons accordingly.
Living conditions at the ISBs will also vary dependent on number of travelers and facilities available. Temporary lodging can range from basic cots in a shared living area to traditional temporary billeting. Once in CONUS, travelers will be met by NORTHCOM officials who will arrange follow-on travel to final CONUS destination. Transportation will be funded to the final CONUS destination with entitlements as set forth in the JFTR/JTR. This memo contains further information regarding travel entitlements, baggage rules, pet policies, advances and general questions. For specific questions related to flight availability and departure procedures, contact the nearest installation commander.
Q. Is the United States Government authorizing departure of DoD personnel and dependents?
A. On 17 March 2011, the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense authorized DoD eligible family members, located on the island of Honshu, Japan, to depart to the designated Safe Haven location of the United States.
Q. What is authorized departure?
A. Authorized departure is a voluntary program whereby US Government employees and eligible dependents that are stationed abroad are permitted to depart a foreign area at government expense.
Q. Why is departure authorized?
A. Departure is authorized due to the deteriorating situation at the Fukushima Daichi Nuclear Plant following the 8.8 earthquake and tsunami.
Q. My sponsor is deployed, will he/she come home?
A. Return of deployed members will be on their normally scheduled rotation.
Q. Who is in charge for military/military dependent movement?
A. DoD will arrange transportation for DoD personnel and dependents.
Q. How will the transportation be provided? Will I travel by military air, contracted transportation, or other?
A. Depending on your final destination, transportation may be provided via military air, chartered flight, commercial ticket, or a combination of each. You may fly direct or be required to lay over several nights. This is a massive undertaking and we appreciate your patience with this process.
Q. Who is eligible?
A. The current departure is focused on command sponsored dependents and non-command sponsored dependents, who at the time of the authorized departure, are permanently residing on the island of Honshu, Japan. While unaffiliated, non-U.S. Government American citizens are eligible for departure, they will be required to reimburse the government and will not receive financial entitlements under the Joint Travel Regulation or Joint Federal Travel Regulation. Similarly, retirees are not entitled to JTR or JFTR entitlements. We encourage non-U.S. Government American citizens and retirees to pursue authorized departure through the DoS.
Q. Is there a mechanism in place to identify who is in the affected area? And therefore authorized travel?
A. All eligible family members on the island of Honshu, Japan, are authorized travel.
Q. How does this apply to Join Spouses or single parents?
A. If you have children, the commander may authorize a parent/guardian to escort children to the Safe Haven. For Join Spouses, this should be coordinated through your unit commander. If both spouses are mission essential, another person may be designated as an escort. (See JFTR U6004H.2.).
Q. If pregnant, can I travel?
A. Yes, if approved by appropriate medical personnel.
Q. Are persons other than current DoD personnel and dependents permitted travel via DoD authorized departure?
A. Space on DoD authorized departure aircraft is extremely limited. Persons other than current DoD personnel and dependents should pursue authorized departure through the DoS. The U.S. Embassy is making arrangements to assist non-DoD American citizens interested in departing Japan via USG-chartered transportation. Interested persons should proceed to Narita and Haneda airports or contact the US Department of State and Embassy Japan by sending an email to JapanEmergencyUSC@state.gov or by calling 1-202-501-4444. Please provide the following information: Name, age, place of birth, U.S. passport number and any special medical needs. Immediate family members (spouses and children) who are not U.S. citizens must be documented for entry into the U.S.
Q: Are contractor’s dependents eligible to participate in the DoD authorized evacuation?
A: Dependents of SOFA status, DoD contractors are eligible for transportation from Japan to the CONUS port of embarkation along with other DoD dependents. They must arrange and pay for any further travel required. The contractor or their employer may be responsible for the costs associated with DoD provided transportation. Contractor’s dependents are not eligible for DoD travel and per diem allowance
Q. Are third-country nationals allowed to travel?
A. All DoD dependents with travel entitlements are eligible for relocation by the DoD. Allowances are determined by the status of the sponsor and whether the dependents are command sponsored or not.
Q. What about persons without passports?
A. All travelers should have valid travel documents. U.S. citizens who do not hold a valid U.S. passport should contact their installation Passport Office or the US Department of State and Embassy Japan by calling 1-202-501-4444. The Passport Unit of the U.S. Embassy, Tokyo, is open 0830-1300 and 1400-1730 on 19-21 March 2011 (Saturday-Monday) to issue emergency passports to American Citizens. Additionally, as applicable, travelers should carry their common access card; dependent ID; PCS orders bringing you to Japan; and, for newborns, proof of birth. Non-U.S. citizens should bring their respective country’s passport or, if unavailable, contact their Embassy or Consulate to solicit assistance in obtaining appropriate travel documentation.
Q. Who pays for our travel?
A. DoD pays travel expenses for military dependents and dependents of DoD civilians who have transportation agreements. (See JFTR U6004). DoD civilians who do not have transportation agreements are not authorized travel at government expense, but may travel at personal expense.
Q. Who pays for our living expenses?
A. For the first 30 consecutive days following arrival at the safe haven, command-sponsored DoD dependents that are 12 years old or older are authorize a safe haven evacuation allowance that is up to the lodging, meals, and incidental expense allowance for the safe haven. Command sponsored dependents that are less than 12 years old will receive up to 50% of the lodging, meals, and incidentals expense allowance for the safe haven. After the first 30 consecutive days, command-sponsored dependents that are 12 years old or older will receive up to 60% of the lodging, meals, and incidentals expense allowance for the safe haven while command-sponsored dependents that are less than 12 years old will receive up to 30% of the lodging, meals, and incidentals expense allowance for the safe haven location. Generally, command sponsored dependents will not be authorized a lodging allowance that exceeds their actual lodging expense. Non-command sponsored dependents are not authorized a safe haven allowance. (See JFTR U6005).
Q. Am I entitled to FSA (Family Separation Allowance)?
A. Yes, FSA is payable from the time of departure to return at the PDS for military dependants.
Q. How do I get my safe haven allowance?
A. Complete and submit DD1351-2, Travel Settlement Voucher, to your nearest finance office. Allowances for the uniformed services will be in accordance with the Joint Federal Travel Regulation, Chapter 6. Allowances for civilian employees and others will be in accordance with the Joint Travel Regulation, Chapter 6.
Q. What if I don’t have enough money to pay for my immediate costs?
A. Per JFTR U6001F, travel and transportation allowances may be paid in advance. Advances may not exceed 2 month’s basic pay. Advances should be requested through your installation comptroller.
Q. What happens to my COLA and OHA if my family volunteers for the authorized departure?
A. Upon departure of dependents a sponsor’s COLA at the “with-dependent(s)” rate will be terminated. (See JFTR U9215A.1.). OHA at the “with dependent” rate will continue so long as evacuated dependents have not established a permanent residence away from the PDS. Once evacuated dependants have established a permanent residence away from the PDS, OHA at the “with dependent” rate will cease and OHA/BAH at the location of the permanent residence will begin. (See JFTR 10426).
Q. If I purchase a ticket myself, will I be reimbursed?
A. Reimbursement for personally procured transportation requires waiver/approval and is not guaranteed. Requests for waiver/approval should be pursued through your comptroller.
Q. I have family who are visiting. They are not dependents, but can they travel?
A. So long as they are American Citizens, they may depart Japan via DoS authorized departure procedures. They should contact the DoS. The U.S. Embassy is making arrangements to assist non-DoD American citizens interested in departing Japan via USG-chartered transportation. Interested persons should proceed to Narita and Haneda airports or contact the US Department of State and Embassy Japan by sending an email to JapanEmergencyUSC@state.gov or by calling 1-202-501-4444. Please provide the following information: Name, age, place of birth, U.S. passport number and any special medical needs. Immediate family members (spouses and children) who are not U.S. citizens must be documented for entry into the U.S.
Q. I am performing escort duty for a dependent incapable of traveling alone what are my entitlements?
A. Persons performing escort duties for dependants of military members are authorized travel and transportation allowances from the PDS to the safe haven location.
Q. Can I bring pets?
A. Yes, you may bring pets. For military dependents, a member is authorized transportation and quarantine for up to two household pets (JFTR U6016). For others, pet transportation is at the personal expense of the individual. Horses, fish, birds, and rodents are not authorized transportation. We recommend that you contact your base veterinarian, obtain complete health/vaccination records, and provide advance notice of pet information (type, size, age) in the departure data form. Upon entry into the United States, travelers with pets should be aware that rules and laws vary amongst commercial carriers and states. Upon return to Japan, all pet quarantine and vaccination laws continue to apply. http://www.kadena.af.mil/library/factsheets/factsheet.asp?id=16520
Q. How much luggage can I bring?
A. Recommend travelers prepare one carry-on bag with essential items. Travelers will be authorized 2 bags per traveler with a max weight of 70 lbs per bag.
Q. Will those persons that volunteer for authorized departure from Japan be provided roundtrip tickets so that they may return to their permanent duty station in Japan at a later date?
A. Generally, yes. Per JFTR U6004I.1.a., evacuated command-sponsored dependents will be provided return travel to the member’s OCONUS PDS when the Under Secretary of Defense determines conditions at the OCONUS PDS permit return. Procedures for obtaining return travel will be provided at a later date. Return travel will not be provided if the time between the dependent’s return and the members PCS is less than 60 days. We expect that in situations where there would be less than 60 days between a command sponsored dependent’s return to the OCONUS PDS and the member’s PCS, the command sponsored dependent will be authorized travel to the member’s next duty station. Non-command sponsored dependents will not be provided return travel to the member’s OCONUS PDS. (See JFTR U6004I.2.)
Q. Can I transport unaccompanied baggage?
A. Persons age 12 and older may ship up to 350lbs of unaccompanied baggage. Persons under the age of 12 may ship up to 175lbs of unaccompanied baggage. Not to exceed 1000lbs per family.
Q. How do I volunteer?
A. Contact your unit’s service chain of command. For DoD personnel, units will prepare orders for military personnel and the Personnel Readiness Unit (PRU) will prepare orders for military dependents.
Q. Where do I sign up?
A. Units will issue sign up instructions through the military chain of command.
Q. If I don’t volunteer today, can I volunteer at a later time?
A. Yes, so long as the authorized departure continues to remain in effect.
Q. What is the priority of departures?
A. No specific criteria have been identified except that consideration will be given to those closest in proximity to the threat and those with medical conditions that warrant earliest departure.
Q. What is the schedule for flights?
A. DoD is currently working to obtain required transportation support. Schedules will be announced when available.
Q. Will departure become mandatory?
A. Possibly. Whether an ordered departure takes place will depend on developing conditions.
Q. If non-SOFA, will travelers be allowed into other countries? (Korea)
A. The State Department and PACOM are working all immigration/SOFA issues to ensure entrance of all persons being relocated under this operation.
Q. If medical care is needed, how is that handled?
A. Medical assistance will be available at all stages and locations used during the relocation operations. Medical requirements must be identified at the time family members sign up for relocation.
Q. How do we evacuate individuals hospitalized in US or Japanese hospitals?
A. Relocation of hospitalized individuals will be coordinated by the local US military medical authorities.
Q. What must I have to travel?
A. Travelers should attempt to have valid travel documents. U.S. citizens that do not hold a valid U.S. passport should contact their installation Passport Office or the U.S. Department of State and Embassy Japan by calling 1-202-501-444. Additionally, as applicable, travelers should carry their common access card; dependent ID; PCS order that brought you to Japan; and, for newborns, proof of birth or command sponsorship. Non U.S. Citizens should bring their respective country’s passport or, if unavailable, contact their Embassy or Consulate to solicit assistance in obtaining appropriate travel documents.
Q. If my dependent is not a U.S. citizen, can he/she still travel under the Authorized Departure?
A. Access to authorized departure is contingent on status as a military dependent, not nationality. However, U.S. immigration laws still apply. 36 Countries presently participate in the Visa Waiver Program, which authorizes citizens of those countries to enter and remain in the United States for up to 90 days. For more information concerning the visa waiver program or obtaining a visitor visa, please consult the DoS:
Visa Waiver Program Participating Countries
Current as of 1400, 19 March 2011
Authored by USFJ/J06
Q. What about my house/household goods/cars?
A. Presently, the duration of this authorized departure is estimated to be about 30 days; however, the period of authorized departure may be extended or shortened based on current conditions in the affected area. All persons are encouraged to prepare and secure their residence for several week’s vacancy. Persons should make a personal inventory of household goods prior to departure. At this time, persons are not authorized movement of household goods. (See JFTR U6007B). Members are authorized a local travel allowance of $25 per day and per family. (See JFTR U6006).
Q. Are military members/essential civilian allowed to accompany dependents to Port of Embarkation? Allowed to accompany dependents to the States?
A. Military members should not plan to accompany their family members beyond the departure location. Although specific departure locations have not yet been identified, processing centers will be established at each location to assist departing family members. Some military and civilian personnel may be permitted to escort minor children to safe havens. Commanders and supervisors will determine whether to permit such personnel to escort the minors or whether the sponsor will need to execute their family care plan.
Continued provision of installation services is dependent on multiple factors, to include continued demand, availability of staffing, local environmental conditions, etc. While we are dedicated to continuing to provide installation services, said services cannot be guaranteed and may be degraded due to our ongoing military mission.
Q. Must I depart during an ordered departure?
A. If you fail to evacuate during an ordered departure, the DoD cannot guarantee continued provision of base services.
Q. If I don’t depart, will schools and child development centers remain open?
A. Schools and Child Development Centers will continue to function so long as demand and staffing permit.
Q. If I don’t depart, will the commissary and exchange remain available to me?
A. Commissaries and exchanges will remain available so long as demand and staffing permit.
Q. If I don’t depart, will the medical clinic continue to provide care?
A. Yes, so long as demand and staffing permit.
Safe Haven Location
Q. Where will I go? Intermediate stop? Will there be follow on to the states? A. The Office of Under Secretary of Defense has identified the United States as the designated safe haven. Prior to traveling, each departing family will need to identify the location within the designated safe haven to which they want to travel. You may select a location, even if it is not your “home of record” or “legal residence”.
Per JFTR U6003B.1.b.(1), travel to the designated safe haven of the U.S. will be to the CONUS, which is defined as the 48 contiguous States and the District of Columbia (JFTR Appendix A, Part 1).
For those who seek to travel to Alaska, Hawaii, or U.S. Territories or Possessions, we are seeking a waiver to permit those non-foreign OCONUS locations be included as designated safe havens. We will try to get that waiver prior to departure. If we are unable to get a waiver prior to travel and it is later granted, travel to that alternate Safe Haven will be at government expense. (See JFTR U6004F). For those who seek travel to foreign OCONUS areas, authorization from the Secretary of State is required, unless they are a national of the country requested: A Thai citizen requested authorized departure to Bangkok. (See JFTR U6003) Justification must be submitted in writing or telephonically through command channels. Personnel headquarters will make a determination.
Q. Do I need to register my children in school after we leave Japan? If so, how do I register my children in school following departure?
A. The duration of this authorized departure is unknown. If you volunteer for this authorized departure, withdraw your children from school, and are concerned your children will fall behind during their absence, you should hand carry their records so that they may be registered at your final safe haven location.
Q. Is this a temporary move or permanent change of station to the United States?
A. This departure is anticipated to be a temporary relocation to the CONUS at this time.
Q. Will we get to return? Will we be allowed to return?
A. Once the immediate adverse conditions are sufficiently resolved, DoD will evaluate the situation and, if the conditions are safe, initiate action to return all relocated personnel to Japan.
Q. I am a civilian employee, if I volunteer to go, will I have a job to return to?
A. Yes, so long as you depart and remain in a leave status, whether paid or unpaid.