MARINE CORPS AIR STATION YUMA, Ariz. --
Marines with dependents in the Exceptional Family Member Program may be able to extend tours of duty for up to three years in lieu of permanent change of station orders due to an upcoming change in Corps policy.
This change authorizes Marines with special-needs family members to request an extension when the care for the exceptional family member would be seriously disrupted by the Marine’s reassignment, according to Marine Administrative Message 348/09, released June 9, 2009.
“The opportunity has always been there, but now it’s put in writing,” said Margy Pracchia, program manager here.
The message is a precursor to further changes to the EFMP order, Marine Corps Order P1754.4A, expected to be released later this month, said Pracchia.
The EFMP is a support program designed to provide family members with necessary educational or medical facilities and to ensure sponsors are assigned to locations where those services exist.
However, Marines can’t apply to stay where they are until they have orders elsewhere, which would be issued with consideration of the special-needs family member.
“For instance, if a Marine here has a child who needs psychiatric help and the child is doing really well with his doctor, moving him somewhere else and switching to a new doctor could create additional problems,” said Pracchia.
After an extension expires, however, the Marine will be eligible for transfer, said Pracchia.
A Marine’s family may also remain in military housing at the original duty station for an allotted amount of time while the Marine works at his new assignment, said Pracchia. Additionally, for a family on or off base, the Marine would have to apply for a waiver to retain basic allowance for housing where their family resides instead of his new location. The Marine may also qualify for family separation allowance during that time.
Although this policy helps ensure the family resides in an area with appropriate care services, the Marine may still be assigned overseas individually.
Though the program offers these opportunities, it is not guaranteed Marines will receive extensions for their current assignments, said Pracchia.
“Every case is different, but Marines have to remember they have obligations to the Corps,” said Pracchia.