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New program allows some Marines early discharge

8 Apr 2010 | Cpl. Austin Hazard

The Marine Corps recently announced the guidelines for a new program intended to reduce the Corps’ budget and manpower surplus by offering an earlier out for some Marines.

The voluntary early release program currently applies to Marines with end of active service dates between April 1 and Sept. 30, 2010, and offers to end their service up to 90 days early.

Since the Corps overshot its goal of increasing its active duty manpower to 202,000 Marines, which is stretching its already limited budget, this program was created to correct the problem.

“They’re over the bill on manpower and now they’ve got to cut back,” said Gunnery Sgt. Jimmy Spence, Headquarters and Headquarters Squadron career planner. “We were upsizing, but now we’re downsizing.”

In order to be accepted for the program, Marines must be eligible for honorable or general (under honorable conditions) discharges and must complete all normal separation requirements, such as final physicals and separation classes. Applications for the programs must also be submitted and endorsed by battalion- or squadron-level commanders.

According to the program guidelines, processing of applications can begin immediately. Requests for early releases must be submitted at least 30 days before the early release date.

Though the program allows Marines to take terminal leave along with an early out, the current five month timeframe of the program prevents this in most cases. Unless an individual’s EAS is in September, they won’t have enough time to take leave on top of their 90 less days of service, said Spence.

“If a Marine’s EAS is in mid-July and he is accepted for the early out program, 90 days earlier would have him leaving the ranks in mid-April,” said Spence. “That would give him only half a month where he even has the option to take terminal leave, opposed to the normal 60 days.”

In this way, early outs will reduce the Corps’ expenses by decreasing the amount of time it has to pay outbound Marines for.

“While terminal leave is better for the Marine, this program is better for the institution, for the Corps,” said Spence.

Units should be cautious of releasing their Marines early, since their vacancies in the units will be filled based on the individuals’ original EAS dates.

According to the program guidelines, if the needs of the Marine Corps require, a second set of guidelines extending the program through fiscal year 2011 will be released.

For more information or to see a list of disqualifying factors for the program, see Marine Administrative Message 177/10.


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