Christmas could come early for some Marines in the form of an early release from active duty.
Under this year's Early Release Policy for the Calendar Year 2014 Holiday Period, commanders can release Marines who would normally be granted leave during the holiday season and are scheduled to separate from the Corps between Dec. 15 and Jan. 5 from their active-duty service. The announcement was posted in Marine administrative message 572/14, signed Nov. 4.
Under the program Marines can be separated as early as Dec. 12.
The goal of the program, which has been offered every year since at least 2006, is to save the government money and individual service members unnecessary travel hassle during the holiday season. Without the program, more Marines would find themselves required to return to their duty station, perhaps cross-country, simply for final processing from the Corps.
To be eligible, Marines must be "permanently assigned in the 50 states, District of Columbia or in their area of residence in dependencies, trusts, territories, and commonwealths," the message states. That means while Marine based in Guam or Hawaii are eligible, those in Japan or Korea are not.
Others who could be ineligible include those whose absence commanders determine "would adversely affect the operational capabilities of the command," the message states.
Additionally, Marines will not be released early if they:
■ Manifest symptoms of post traumatic stress/traumatic brain injury and are undergoing post deployment health evaluation and management care.
■ Are on extensions of active duty.
■ Are on medical hold.
■ Are scheduled to transfer to the Fleet Marine Corps Reserve or retired list.
■ Are on terminal leave.
Those with outstanding service debt must settle their accounts before early separation. Marines must also have completed pre-separation counseling and the Transition Assistance Program employment workshop 90 days prior to separation.
Marines are also advised to consider how an early release might affect separation pay or Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits.
Early separation could also adversely affect compliance with time-in-service requirements for some Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits, including transferring them to dependents. Marines must serve or agree to serve at least 10 years to transfer benefits to a dependent. To learn how an early out could affect benefits eligibility, Marines should contact their local career planner or call 800-833-2320.
Marines will not have to pay back enlistment or re-enlistment bonuses for early separation under this MARADMIN, even if they don't quite reach their time-in-service obligation.