Dealing with an ERD

Dealing with an ERD

by Stacy Roman
Stripes Europe

For most, an overseas tour is a coveted assignment. The prospect of traveling, learning different cultures and language, trying new food and just the difference of living in a new country can be exciting. For some, being overseas can present a set of challenges which may be insurmountable. Marital difficulties, non-life-threatening medical issues and other outliers can create an unstable situation in which returning to the U.S. is the best option. What happens when the service member can’t curtail (cut short) their assignment? This is where an early return of dependents, or ERD, can come into play.

What is it? An ERD allows command-sponsored dependents to return to the U.S. (usually to the home of record on file) government-funded. ERDs are granted at the discretion of the unit commander or authorizing official, based on unusual or compelling circumstances. The process is fairly quick and binding. It’s not a round trip vacation home; rather a one-way ticket to help alleviate extraordinary circumstances.

The process. The first thing you’ll need is permission or authorization granting the request in writing from the unit commander. Once you’ve received approval, you’ll need to stop by the orderly room, personnel office or Commander’s Support Staff (CSS) to obtain new orders. These are usually processed quickly to help expedite the move. When you have the orders in hand, you’ll head to your local transportation office to make flight arrangements and any household goods shipments. You’ll also need to visit the finance and housing offices, as this will change your cost-of-living allowance (COLA) and overseas housing allowance (OHA) or base housing if you reside on base. Returning dependents will usually receive a housing allowance (BAH) based on their new location in the States.

What to think about. An ERD happens very fast and is irreversible. Essentially, the service member will have a separate set of orders from their dependents. Once it goes into effect, dependents lose command sponsorship as well as the privilege of staying overseas in an official capacity. It isn’t something to be undertaken lightly. Before we initiated a medical ERD years ago, we discussed the situation and realized it was the best choice for our family. We made sure we had all proper documentation ready and a plan going forward. My children and I had orders within 24 hours, household goods picked up within a week and were on a plane home less than weeks later. While it wasn’t an easy decision, it made a difference in getting the proper health care needed for one of our kids.

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