Combat-wounded Marines who want to stay in uniform now have fewer hoops to jump through.

Manpower officials have modified decade-old rules that offer permanent limited duty status to qualified Marines. Under the new Expanded Permanent Limited Duty Status policy, Marines approved for retention can re-enlist for 48 months at a time, and continue to do so without having to face more retention boards.

Marines who desire a spot must submit medical and physical evaluation board results, and a letter to the commandant that states a reason for retention, according to a Corps-wide message signed by Commandant Gen. Robert Neller. The Marine must be willing to accept a lateral move (and is asked to provide three choices), and geographic assignment if determined necessary. Assignments will be restricted to locations that have proper medical facilities required for a combat-wounded Marine's injuries, according to the message.

Marines accepted into the program do not have to repeat these steps for subsequent re-enlistments unless there is a change to their medical status.

It is not clear how many PLD Marines are eligible, as manpower officials did not immediately respond when asked how many Marines apply for and are granted this status annually.

Before being accepted into the program, eligible Marines are warned that by showing a fitness for continued duty, they could adversely affect some benefits and entitlements they would otherwise receive through the Veterans Affairs Department. Marines who stay in uniform for one year or longer will be re-evaluated upon final separation, "and are subject to a potentially lesser subsequent disability rating as determined through the Integrated Disability Evaluation System," according to the MARADMIN.

"It is imperative that Marines seeking retention under this policy are fully counseled on the implications of their decision that may be better served by being either medically retired or separated and who might better avail themselves of VA services/entitlements," the message states.

At the same time, the Corps looks to honor those who desire to stay on active duty despite their medical restrictions. A combat-wounded Marine found "unfit" for continued service by a physical evaluation board can apply for permanent limited duty to carry him to his established end of active service as long as his injuries were the result of hostile action, meet the criteria for awarding of the Purple Heart, and were not the result of his own misconduct. This Marine need not pass the physical or combat fitness test, and is not required to be worldwide deployable, according to the message.

Height and weight standards may also be waived on a case-by-case basis. However, the Marine must be capable of performing in a military occupational specialty and effectively contribute to the Marine Corps' mission.

Lance M. Bacon is senior reporter for Marine Corps Times. He covers Marine Corps Combat Development Command, Marine Corps Forces Command, personnel / career issues, Marine Corps Logistics Command, II MEF, and Marine Forces North. He can be reached at lbacon@marinecorpstimes.com.