OKINAWA, Japan --
U.S. Marine Corps Forces Japan released its Okinawa-Based Funded Environmental and Morale Leave Bulletin December 10, 2021.
The MARFORJ Bulletin 1050 was rapidly but thoroughly crafted to provide necessary guidance for leaders and eligible members so they could administer the FEML entitlement recently authorized by the Secretary of Defense for Okinawa.
“The purpose of FEML is to provide all eligible MARFORJ Marines, Sailors and DoD civilians, and their families the opportunity to execute leave off the island of Okinawa, spend time with family and friends there, and maintain operational and personal morale after almost two years of pandemic in the face of unique conditions in the Western Pacific,” said Lt. Gen. James W. Bierman Jr., the III Marine Expeditionary Force Commanding General.
Since the start of COVID-19 responses back in 2020, service members stationed in Okinawa have faced significant barriers to conducting regular, unrestricted annual leave outside of Japan, such as to and from the United States.
This FEML designation provides government funding for eligible service members, dependents, and DoD civilians to travel from Okinawa to Seattle, Washington.
“Throughout the period FEML is executed, readiness to Fight Now must be maintained as a first priority; through deliberate planning, operational requirements and FEML can be balanced." Lt. Gen. James W. Bierman Jr., III Marine Expeditionary Force Commanding General
Participants may travel to locations other than Seattle. However, when such deviations are made, total transportation costs cannot exceed the costs that would have been incurred if the participants had traveled to Seattle from Okinawa.
FEML travel time is not chargeable as leave, and no more than two FEML trips are authorized for any overseas tour including extensions to that tour.
“FEML is an entitlement, and all those eligible will be encouraged to take advantage of it,” said Bierman. “Each member of MARFORJ eligible for FEML will be briefed by an Officer or Staff Non-Commissioned Officer regarding the opportunities and procedures outlined in this policy.”
Dependents are eligible for FEML when residing with the service member or civilian employee serving an accompanied tour, if the service member’s dependent is command-sponsored or the civilian employee’s dependent is authorized.
Additionally, FEML travel may not be taken within 6 months of the beginning or end of the service member’s tour of duty. This funded travel will be directly approved by the service member’s chain of command. Unit commanders will establish their own process for prioritizing and sequencing of FEML based on readiness requirements and individual situations.
“Throughout the period FEML is executed, readiness to Fight Now must be maintained as a first priority; through deliberate planning, operational requirements and FEML can be balanced,” said Bierman.
The FEML is categorized as an exception to policy and will no longer be valid once the Government of Japan removes COVID pandemic travel restrictions affecting DoD personnel on Okinawa.