BLUF: There has been a lot of guidance pushed out regarding COVID-19, this one is extremely important. I have summed up the key points that focuses on our military members, travel pay, special pay, leave, and Reserve & ANG components.
Background: TAB F to the Assistant Secretary of Defense Memo (23 Mar 2020) - Military Personnel Guidance for DoD and OSD Component Heads and Military Commanders in Responding to Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19). The guidance is DoD outline a specific risk-based framework for planning, postures, and actions needed to protect DoD Personnel and support mission assurance in response to novel COVID-19. Additionally, it supplements the requirements in DoD Instruction 6200.03, “Public Health Emergency Management (PHEM) Within the DoD,” March 28, 2019. DoD components may be more restrictive based off of local risk assessment in consultation with Public Health. The goal to these restrictions are to minimize risk to its military personnel, military families, and civilian personnel while maintaining and building a more lethal force.
Travel restrictions still in place until May 11, 2020.
- All DoD Uniformed personnel, civilian personnel, and family members traveling to, from, or through CDC Level 3 designated locations.
- All domestic travel for DoD military personnel, civilian personnel, family members that are Gov’t funded (TDYs and PCS)
- Restrict leave to local leave
- Onboard only civilian employees within the local commuting area.
Military Personnel Policy Guidance:
Alternate place of duty:
- Commanders may authorize to designate an alternate place of duty within the area of the permanent duty station (PDS).
- If member is restricted to self-monitoring, the alternate place can NOT be an open-bay unaccompanied gov’t quarters, or rooms with shared bathrooms and/or kitchen facilities
- Commanders can consider the need for care of a family member to designate the member’s alternate place of duty (ie: home)
- The inability to perform military duties via traditional telework shall NOT be a barrier to assigning a member to an alternate place of duty.
- Commanders should immediately review their current telework policies and prepare all telework-ready military members to effectively telework, ensuring assess to IT systems and networks, should COVID-19 warrant for local conditions.
- Commanders may direct military members to telework.
- Commanders are strongly encouraged to maximize the use of situational (ad hoc) telework agreements with as many telework-eligible military members as practical & further assess telework eligibility with other members whose work may be compatible with telework.
- Commanders should apply leave and liberty policies liberally for members and members who care for their family members. And may direct alternate duty locations for any other situations created by extended effects of COVID-19.
- Leave for Illness: follow convalescent leave under advice and direction of medical health care professionals
- Leave for exposure to COVID-19: commanders should follow normal convalescent leave guidance and DoD Force Health protection guidance
- Leave for members who are suspected to have been exposed to COVID-19: Commanders may authorize member to be at alternate place of duty for any active duty member.
- Leave for members who are providing care for close family member who is required to self-monitor: Commanders should apply leave and liberty policies liberally; may exercise their authority to assign an alternate place of duty.
- Leave requests not COVID-19 related is still authorized for local area only.
Pay, Allowances, and Benefits Guidance:
BAS: (does not apply to officers, or any members who are eligible for per diem allowance for Isolation or Quarantine. See item 6 of Tab F – Memo.)
- If service members are in active status and ordered into restriction of movement for self-monitoring, CC’s may consider the following for BAS:
- Members who were subject to deduction of BAS (ie: meal card holders), may be provided monthly BAS without deductions if they are NOT housed in gov’t quarters and NOT subsisted at/from a gov’t/appropriated fund dining facility (ie: High Country Inn, Mitchell Hall) during the period of their restriction of movement.
- Members who do NOT reside in Gov’t quarters, are displaced for restriction of movement, and do have adequate food storage and preparation facilities, may be authorized BAS-II rate (twice the monthly rate). *USAFA should not need to fall under this.*
- Commanders may allow for a ETP for members that are not in gov’t facilities receive meals from a dining facility without charging the member or stopping the member’s BAS; due to uniqueness of the restriction of movement for self-monitory.
- BAH: if a member is not normally entitled to receive BAH and is moved to a facility that they have to pay for outside of their PDS. *USAFA should not have anyone that falls under this*
- Family Separation Housing (FSH): If a member has to PCS and the family is not authorized to move with the military member due to COVID-19, then the CC may authorize FSH allowance for the new location, as long as the family is NOT at or near the new PDS and that gov’t quarters at the new duty location is not available.
Family Separation Allowance (FSA):
- Existing rules apply; if a member is ordered away from their dependents. *Do not authorize FSA for members being placed in self-monitoring locations not within their household*
- FSA-Restricted: authorized if dependents travel to a safe-haven that is not at or near the PDS or if they are not in the area of the PDS and no longer authorized concurrent gov’t funded travel to join the member at the duty station.
- FSA-Temporary: may be authorized to members separated from their dependents as a result of their short-term TDY being halted and they are held over at the TDY location.
- Members being separated from their dependents as a result of their leave travel being halted are NOT entitled to FSA.
Travel & Transportation Allowances (Per Diem):
- If lodging in-kind or meals in-kind are provided, per diem is not authorized.
- PCS Travel Interruptions:
- While members and dependents are delayed or held or directed to return to last duty station are authorized per diem during their awaiting transportation period.
- PCS Travel – Ordered to self-monitoring upon arrival at new PDS
- Only authorize if member incurs expenses for any lodging and meals that are not provided in-kind, but the member was directed to self-monitoring period.
- Do NOT authorize if a member has their own residence at the new PDS.
- TDY Interruptions:
- Members may be extended at the TDY location during restriction of movement; the orders will cover during this period.
- Members returning from deployment will have their orders extended to cover the extended TDY.
- Any TDY that is curtailed will have their transportation and allowances covered to return to the PDS.
- TLE/TLA: in cases where members are ordered into restriction of movement for self-monitoring after arrival at the new PDS but reside separately from their dependents, payment of TLE or TLA may be paid for the dependents concurrently with any Per Diem Allowance During Isolation, Awaiting Transportation, and Government-Funded Leave paid to the members IAW existing TLE or TLA policies.
- Hardship duty pay – restriction of movement (HDP-ROM): Only members currently in travel status (PCS/TDY) away from the PDS may be eligible for reimbursement of lodging and per diem.
Personal Property Shipments:
- Household Good (HHG) and Unaccompanied Baggage (UB) shipments: The responsible Personal Property Shipment office should be suspend or reschedule the shipment and inform the DoD members their shipment of the rescheduled shipment. The PDS Personal Property Shipment office is responsible for processing the ETP.
- POVs: DoD customers should seek an ETP prior to dropping off their POV at the vehicle processing center for shipment.
- Deliveries of HHG & UB shipments: HHG & UB shipment deliveries to DoD members at their destinations should continue.
Reserve Component Specific Guidance:
- Rescheduling Annual Training (AT) and Inactive Duty Training (IDT): Commanders are authorized to exercise broad discretion and flexibility to schedule or reschedule AT or IDT; highly encouraged if there is an unacceptable risk of exposure or suspected exposure to COVID-19.
- RC members currently performing AD or Full-Time National Guard Duty (FTNGD): Must adhere to DoD travel and force health protection guidance. Commanders can institute a restriction of movement for self-monitoring of a RC member currently performing active duty or FTNGD, they may consider issuing voluntary orders with a member’s consent, to remain on AD or FTNGD as appropriate.
- Release from AD or FTNGD: Commanders will develop policies to ensure that those scheduled for release of AD receive consideration for restriction of movement for self-monitoring prior to release. Any person being extended should be done voluntarily. Any FTNGD member must have the governor’s approval prior to extension.
Other information: DoD is providing guidance on the response to COVID-19 at https://www.defense.gov/Explore/Spotlight/Coronavirus/. This guidance and additional information can also be found at: https://www.militaryonesource.mil/coronavirus.
Please let my team and I know what we can help you out with.
CANDI R. SCHNEIDER, SMSgt, USAF
Superintendent, 10th Force Support Squadron
3F0 USAFA Functional Advisor