I needed to vent somewhere and I’ll do it here. The Army offers funding for a free flight back to Home of Record if the service member has completed an overseas tour and is traveling to another overseas tour, otherwise known as OCONUS. This can be used between any overseas duty location, whether that’s from deployment in the Middle East to Hawaii, Germany to Korea, Japan to Puerto Rico, etc you get the picture.
In order to process the claim and acquire the funding, the service member needs to “prep” the action by ensuring DA 31 leave dates match up with the flight itinerary leaving from the last duty station. This is to ensure that the service member did not spend more than 7 days in the continental United States. Further documentation needs to be verified through travel voucher claims and ERB/ORB submission that validates the home of record. Once this documentation has been verified, the service member has one year to use this claim or lose it forever.
At the new duty station, the service member must submit a DA 4187 Personnel Action with the required documents (checklist obtained through DHR Reassignments) and wait a minimum of 3-5 days for processing.
Given this extensive list, it is natural that some documentation may not line up. The worst part of it is that it the action may take a few weeks to process before errors are founded. However, because most service members do not work in Human Resources, we trust that our subject matter experts would take care of us by ensuring documents line up when we want to claim a benefit. In Hawaii, this has not been the case. It wasn’t until I submitted an ICE complaint (2 pages long) that the Director of Human Resources finally called me and offered to resolve the issue. First, he started by blaming my S1 for not properly vetting the document and claiming that his office was only a second set of eyes. I have worked closely with my S1 throughout the entire process to ensure things were good from my end so I had no patience for the blame game. In fact, I had spent 2 hours at their office front desk going through the initial review of the packet and was told that everything “was in good order.” Why is it then that a week after the action was submitted that I finally find out that there were errors? Their front desk employee reviews and validates the packet, the worker bees in the back process the order.
The delay has cost me money. I have been waiting for my flight ticket confirmation before I could align the flight for my wife and baby and ensure that we flew together. Overall, this has once again jaded my confidence in the Army processes and reinforced my belief that we are spending ludicrous amounts of taxpayer dollars paying someone’s civilian salary when we could have military human resource MOS’ processing actions. One less rung in the ladder, $80,000 saved.