U.S. Marine Corps Forces Japan released its Okinawa-Based Funded Environmental and Morale Leave Bulletin December 10, 2021.
The MARFORJ Bulletin 1005 was quickly and thoroughly crafted to provide the necessary guidance for leaders, eligible members, and enable them to administer the FEML entitlement that the Secretary of Defense for Okinawa recently authorized.
“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 2020, when COVID-19 began, Okinawa service members have faced significant obstacles to taking regular, unrestricted annual leaves outside of Japan. This includes to and from the United States.
This FEML designation allows eligible service members, dependents and DoD civilians to receive government funding to travel from Okinawa, Japan, to Seattle, Washington.
During the execution of FEML, readiness to Fight Now must remain a priority. By planning carefully, operational requirements can be met and FEML can be balanced.Lt. Gen. James W. Bierman Jr. III Marine Expeditionary Force Commanding Général
Participants may travel to places other than Seattle. If participants travel to other locations than Seattle, their total transportation costs will not exceed those incurred if they had traveled from Okinawa to Seattle.
FEML travel time is not subject to leave and no more than two FEML trip are allowed for any overseas tour, including extensions.
“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. Based on the readiness requirements of each individual situation, unit commanders will create their own process to prioritize and sequence FEML.
“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 has been deemed an exception to policy. It will be withdrawn once the Government of Japan removes COVID pandemic travel restrictions affecting DoD personnel at Okinawa.