Early Return of Dependents

April 18, 2013 | Kate Horrell

An overseas posting can be a great experience for a family, but sometimes things don’t work out as intended.  Under certain situations, a family may find that they need to return to the US*, but the service member needs to remain overseas.  This is called an early return of dependents, but usually shortened to EROD or ERD.  Of course, the military has rules and regulations for these cases, and it is good to know a little bit about them if you are going overseas.  While 99% of families will never experience an ERD, it’s still better to be knowledgeable.  ERDs are covered in the Joint  Travel Regulations (JTR).

While people may choose to move home at any time, such a move will not be government-funded unless certain criteria are met.  Typically, this includes:

  • the non-availability of appropriate medical care for a family member,
  • the death, serious illness or incapacitation of an adult dependent, leaving minor dependents without appropriate care,
  • inadequate educational or housing facilities,
  • financial difficulties,
  • marital difficulties,
  • death or serious illness of a close relative.
  • There are other, more obscure reasons as well.  See JTFR for complete details.

The relevant benefits differ depending on the reason for the ERD, and many require the determination of a local authority to justify the situation.  It must be established that the problem did not arise until after arrival at the overseas location.  In addition, all local resources must first be utilized.  This includes financial services, mental heath services, family counseling, and legal advice.  In short,

Early return of a dependent(s) under par. U5900-D2 must be employed judiciously; it is a last resort.

An ERD is not a fast or easy option.  If you believe that you might be eligible, the first step is to contact your command.

Moving People

JTR Chapter 5, Part A, Section 3, Subsection A3d discusses transportation allowances in ERD situations.  In general, when the ERD is considered to be in the government’s interest, the government pays for all transportation costs under the usual travel regulations.

Moving Stuff

In conjunction with an authorized ERD,  members may utilize some or all of their household goods allowance to transport the family’s possession to the location where the family will be residing.  Such movement will reduce the available allowance on the servicemember’s next PCS move.

A servicemember utilizing an ERD will be allowed to ship one vehicle, but this then exhausts their benefit.  No further vehicle shipments will be authorized.

Housing Allowances

JFTR Volume I, Chapter 10, Part E, Section 6 discussed housing allowances in ERD situations.  If a family ERDs at government expense, the servicemember becomes eligible for Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH) at the with dependents rate for the location where the family is to reside.  Once BAH begins at the family’s new location, the servicemember’s Overseas Housing Allowance (OHA) drops to the without dependents rate.

Family Separation Allowance will not be authorized it the ERD is due to marital issues, misconduct, or other personal situations.

Obviously, there is much more to an ERD than can be covered in a short article like this.  However, it is important to understand the basic concepts.  You never know when a friend or a neighbor may need this information.

*There are provisions for moving families to locations outside the US, such as a spouse’s home country.  Read the Joint  Travel Regs for more information.

This article was updated on 19 October 2014 to reflect the changes to the Joint Travel Regulations.

Comments

  1. Vietnam Combat Vet says:

    Salutes to the Young People and their Families that continue to serve in our Military. The sacrifice that 1 – percent or less of our population that Serves is what keeps America strong for us all.

  2. April says:

    I have a question about EROD. We’re on orders to Germany soon, and my son (16) has extensive behavioral issues; so much so that I won’t be surprised if my husband’s command will want to EROD us back to the States. My husband is his stepfather, and my son’s bio father is nowhere to be found. My question is this: when the issue of EROD because of my son comes up, will I have an option to have ONLY him sent back, or will we all be basically punished and sent back because of him? I know I may sound heartless, but my son is on federal probation as it is, and has been ‘in the system’ since he was ten. I’m really apprehensive about taking him as it is, but I’d like to know if I’ll have any options once we get there to keep the majority of our family intact. Any helpful advice will be appreciated. By the way, I don’t even know what grade he’ll be placed in once we get there as he’s currently attending an alternative school here and is failing. He’s also been suspended numerous times this year. Again, thanks in advance for any helpful advice!

    • KateKashman says:

      April, I am not an expert, but I would be surprised if your son were cleared to go to Germany at all. The overseas screening process will certainly look very closely at his situation. I think you need to talk to JAG or the overseas screening people.

      Good luck to you!

    • guest says:

      If he's on federal probation there is a large possibility he wouldn't be able to go to Germany in the first place, did you check with his probation officer on that one? If he's not allowed to go then you could probably send the rest of your family to Germany but I would suspect you would have to stay with him since you are his guardian. Have you thought about sending him to correctional school?

      The most important question though may be, have you thought about or discovered the actual reasons behind his disruptive behavior? Has he been to therapy, have you all been to family therapy together?

  3. Stuck in Korea says:

    I'm stationed in Korea and the Unit my husband is in isn't allowing us to go anywhere. We need day passes just to drive 15 minutes away to where a better commissary is, on top of that, they disapprove passes left and right. This isn't the experience we thought it was going to be. It's getting to the point where the soldiers are complaining and the First Sergeant is suggesting ERD. With that being said, we're trying to find out if the DEROS can then be changed back to a 1 yr tour instead of the 2 yr minimum because we're command sponsored.

  4. Naz Vidaurre says:

    My spouse is stationed in Guam. She has PCS orders for Virginia Beach, but does not PCS until December 2013. My daughter and I PCS'd back to the states under the early return of dependent orders at govt. expense. We moved back to our home in California until my spouse goes to Virginia in December. The OHA has stopped and my spouse has moved into government bachelor quarters in Guam. PSD in Guam is telling us that we are not authorized BAH until we move to Virginia. We were under the impression that we would get BAH at our current location in California. Why are we not authorized BAH due to moving back early. Any help will be appreciated, we are financially strapped due to loosing both OHA and BAH.

    • KateKashman says:

      Naz, I suggest you read the regulations thoroughly to determine where your situation falls within the rules. Then, if you believe you are authorized BAH, you can quote the appropriate regs in your request. Good luck to you.

  5. Sofia says:

    I am a former military spouse. I am the primary custodian of a child. The military moved me from my home of record, Arizona, to Guam under "accompanied" military orders. Our child was born in Guam. My ex and I were having marital difficulties, so I requested for ERD in November 2010. My ex refused to ERD me and our child to my home of record. My ex received a PCS military orders to his next duty station, Misawa, Japan in December 2010. Ex filed for divorce the next day. ( to be continued)

  6. sofia says:

    (continuation) My child and I got stuck in an overseas location against our will and is still currently in Guam. I was told that ERD request cannot be processed until the ex PCSd to his next duty station to Japan in May 2011 which was within the regulation, so I resume requesting for ERD in June 2011 after ex PCSd to Japan has been completed. His command in Japan was firm they wont process ERD. They reasoned that I have to be divorced and the ERD has to be within 6 after the PCS to Japan has been completed. Contested divorce with child custody takes more than 6 months. Do I need to have a divorce decree before ERD is approved? (to be continued)

  7. sofia says:

    (continuation) The divorce was finalized in September 11, 2012 and the Japan command would not approve the ERD because it was not processed on a timely manner. The ERD case was brought up to PACAF upto Air Staff (the highest level) by the Japan command but was disapproved. The Japan command avoid accountability by informing the highest level of command that I have failed to request ERD on a timely manner when the truth is it was they who refused to request this on a timely manner because I do not have a divorce decree when I don't have to. I have requested for an ERD before, during, and after PCS/divorce but the Japan command would not approve because I was still married at that time. If DIVORCE DECREE was a requirement for ERD, why call it Early Return of Dependent? At present my child and I are still stuck in an overseas location, Guam.

  8. Sofia says:

    May I add that I have the blessing of Family Readiness, Chaplain, and legal in Andersen AFB, Guam but Misawa would not do an ERD on a timely manner (within 6 months after PCS was completed. In fact they claimed it can't be done AT ALL).

  9. prabin says:

    hi i am from Nepal, i and my wife is going to australia on dependent visa. My wife study there & i will support her. if i get injured and become ill then can i return back home alone.

  10. Kelly says:

    We are in Germany for another year & like like to Erod. However, my husband may be getting orders for his next duty station soon. Can we still Erod if he’s got orders?

    • KateKashman says:

      Hi Kelly, I don't know if you can EROD once he has orders, but I would be surprised if they would go to the effort of ERDing you for such a short time. Also, there is no "like to ERD." It has to be in the best interest of the military, such as medical reasons, or that you are divorcing, or something like that. It is not designed to be for the convience or desires of the spouse or the military member.

    • Jess says:

      I am in Germany as a spouse and attempting to EROD for lack of educational opportunities out here.. My husband is about to come up on his ETS orders in August and the chaplian of the unit said that as soon as the spouse has orders, the family can head back to set up the home/etc for the husband or whoever to come to, ask your husbands unit about that while you are doing your erod paperwork. I am going to find out in the next couple of weeks if my EROD was approved, it falls under personal reasons and meets all criteria. Next step is Unit approval and then garrison approval. Good luck!

  11. anna says:

    I was ERD back to the states from Germany and im staying with my parents in AZ. It’s just me we have no children, my husband is still in Germany until 2016. My question is will I get BAH here? How does this work?

    • KateKashman says:

      Anna, it can depend on the reason for the ERD. If you click on the link in the article above, and read it while considering your situation, it might answer your question. The link refers to official ERDs, authorized and organized by the military, and made on military orders.

      If you decided to move home independent of ERD orders, you do not receive BAH in your location. Your husband will continue to receive OHA for you being in Germany.

  12. unknown says:

    I have a question. If a spouse got a copy of the service memners orders and she decided to follow him even though he left can he send his dependants back to the states without getting in trouble being that he just go to Germany 1.5 weeks ago. They have had a lot of marital issues already and have been in several counseling programs before pcsing

    • KateKashman says:

      Unknown, I don't completely understand the situation so I can't really give you good answers. Dependents can't very well just "decide to follow." They have to be listed on orders, complete an overseas screening, obtain visas, and obtain command sponsorship. It is a complicated process.

      If either party intended to terminate the marriage, then that should have been addressed before the PCS occurred.

      If you have more details, maybe we can help.

  13. Sam says:

    My husband and I are currently stationed in Italy. I am wanting to ERD, would love to bring my husband along too. Any information on what route to take to make this happen or how much longer he would stay, we signed up for 36 months because I was going with. Please help we are not happy!

    • Kate says:

      I'm afraid that I don't quite understand. I am assuming that your husband is your sponsor. He can't ERD because he is not a dependent. You can only ERD if you have a compelling reason that is in the best interest of the military, as I outlined in the article. Your husband has to fulfill his orders as he accepted them, unless he is able to receive new orders prior to his Projected Rotation Date.

      If your reason for wanting to leave Italy is only because you don't like it, I suggest you dig deep and figure out a way to deal with it. I know that will probably sound harsh, but there is always something good to find in a duty station. It's not like you have to live there for the rest of your life, it is only a few years. Learn the language, participate in activities on base, make some friends, etc. Good luck to you!

    • John says:

      I just completed my ERD from Hawaii, and can tell you there are only certain reasons you can do an ERD, marital issues, medical issues, education issues, if you do not have any of those, then it will be all at your own expense

  14. marvin says:

    will my ex wife be eligible for DLA when i submit the ERD?

  15. tiana says:

    is ERD only allowed for families with a marine who is over seas or deployed? we are stationed in NC and due to a number of different factors we have made the decision that it would be best for our family if the kids and i moved back to our home state with our families and waited while my husband finishes up here and comes back home. would that be a possibility or out of the question? also, about how long does the process generally take? from start to finish? thanks so much!

    • guest says:

      ERD is only for overseas postings, not within the continental US. If you want to move back to your home state, you can, but you will be responsible for all of the financial and logistic challenges of getting back to your home state, and then back again to NC.

  16. Jennifer Anderson says:

    My son erod home to go to school and things just havent worked out. He has no where else to. Can he come back to germany and go to school here. Can he get back under my husband’s orders? He is almost 21 and is living alone and is struggling financially.

    • Kate says:

      Jennifer, why did your son have to EROD in order to attend school in the States? Military children retain their dependency status until age 21, or age 23 if they are full-time students being supported by their parents. If your son is not yet 21, he should still be your husband's dependent and included on your husband's orders. In addition, the military pays for one round-trip travel, OCONUS to CONUS, for college-aged students each year.

      I think you need to look at what has happened in the past and see if your son has, in fact, been dropped off your husband's record and find out why.

      Unless I'm missing some big piece of information, then this situation doesn't sound quite right.

      I hope that helps.

  17. Kevin says:

    My dependents ERD'd back to the states. They ended up moving again after being there around 6 months. My question is, does the BAH rate change to the new location or does it stay the same? I'm being told that wherever they initially go is the only BAH rate they're entitled to until I PCS.

    • Kate says:

      Kevin, this is all covered in the Joint Federal Travel Regulations, Chapter 5, Part J. I don't see anything that would prohibit their BAH location from changing, but I might be missing something. Perhaps your finance folks could show you the appropriate regs?

  18. LAWRENCE says:

    I return from Korea in 1988,and retire with 22years in the Army,Raise my four kid,put them thru school.now i have one in Wisconsin as a general manager for Holiday Inn.one a Professor at LSU,one works at blood bank in AZ.and one lives in Mississippi.And with dealing with PTSD all this time i still had time to raise the kids by myself.

  19. Jason says:

    Hi. My family is currently in the states because our son had to get medevac'd to washington to receive treatment. It was the closest to Guam where I'm at. They have TAD orders (my wife and 4 kids do) at govt expense and now won't send them back because they initiated an ERD. If the ERD is approved they will lose per diem and get BAH. How will this work if home is at Guam and there are no govt facilities where they are at now? Its confusing. It would be easier and cheaper to jus fly them back now and in 4-6 weeks when I get orders to fly them with me after the HHG are shipped. So yeah. How will the BAH thing work? BTW the navy is shelling out $11k per month for my family to be in WA.

    • Kate says:

      Jason, I hope that your son is doing well. I do not have personal experience with this situation and I am sure that there are details that I don't know. From what you are saying, the Navy is moving you to Washington so that you can be stationed near where your child will be receiving medical treatment? It seems reasonable that the military would want to convert these TAD orders to ERD orders, both to save the military money and also so that your family can start moving on to the next stage of your lives. At the time that the ERD orders are approved, you can arrange the HHG shipment without waiting for your orders to be cut.

      This will work just like any PCS move, except that you might be staying in Guam until you get your orders. You will either move into the barracks, or continue receiving OHA. Your family will receive BAH for the location where they are living/where your child is receiving medical care. You will use this BAH to find a house for your family.

      I feel like I am missing your question. I'm sorry, and if you want to explain it differently maybe I can be more help.

      Sending prayers and best wishes for your child.

  20. Anonymous says:

    I am currently 14, and my mom asked if I wanna live with this really close family we know (they are currently in Belgium, and we JUST PCSed to S Korea) and I said yes, so she told me I have to do all the paper work, like she'll tell me some stuff, if I ask, but I have no idea what to do. She told me to look up "Korea sponsorship erd packet," so I did, and I don't know how to get it, get request and signed letter from SQ CC, and I have no idea what to do. By the way, my mom is just tired of my and my brother's "BULL SHIT" (is what she calls)and so, she is going to make my brother to live with our dad (my brother is currently 16). So can somebody please help me get answers, and walk me through it? Thank you, p.s. I have less then 4 weeks to so it

    • Kate says:

      Oh, dear, I am sorry that your mom is putting you in this position. The family with whom you want to go live has to do a lot of paperwork on their end. You can't just go live with them without the proper documentation. Not only would you have to leave Korea (and the military is not going to authorize an ERD just because your mom wants it), but you would have to get transportation to Belgium and then get the right clearances to enter and remain in Belgium. I'm not familiar with Belgium's rules, but in most other countries you need to have a VISA or a permit (for example, Italy calls it a Permesso di Soggiorno, permission to stay; the United Kingdom calls it a Leave to Remain.)

      Is it possible that you could get some help from your dad, or another trusted adult on base? If you talk to the chaplains or the counselors at the family center, they have to keep the stuff you talk about confidential.

      Good luck to you!

  21. Jodi says:

    We are currently stationed in Japan with a PCS date of October to Maryland. My husband has been given a school date for Ranger School starting in September which will extend our stay in Japan until mid to late November. Is it possible for me to ERD to Maryland while he attends school and then processes out of the Japan location? Will the government pay for travel expenses? will i collect BAH for Maryland? Do we need to change our Home of Record to Maryland so that I can move there? Thanks in advance.

    • Kate says:

      Jodi, this doesn't sound like an ERD situation. What you are asking to do (execute your PCS move in September instead of November) is called non-concurrent travel (or moving early.) People do it all the time, particularly to accommodate school year schedules. As long as your husband has orders, you can move before his actual detach date. When you do non-concurrent travel, the government pays for travel. BAH gets a little tricky, and I'd need to verify some details. Your husband's travel and personnel people should be able to answer all these questions, though.

      Good luck to you!

  22. pop2977 says:

    It is truly sad that ERD is only approved for those families that are in trouble or those that completely embarrass the government. We recently applied and was denied because we were not in trouble enough in the eyes of base officials. We were the families that listened to leadership when they said to begin planing for retirement 2 years out. We did that by securing employment in the states so that when my spouse get out we can be financially stable. Well we got no support for doing the right thing and preparing for a future that will be here before we know it. They said that because our financial need is not immediate then there is no need to secure anything right now. If we decide to do this then we do it on our own. I say that this decision was a huge contradiction of what leaders tell all families to do when planing for retirement. It is all just sad.

    • Kate says:

      pop2977, I can see your perspective. I can also see the perspective of the military, who can't be responsible for randomly moving people back and forth, and is obligated by an ERD/EROD to pay BAH to the family that has returned to the US. Both sides have valid reasons for the things that they want, and but it comes to the side spending the money to have the final decision.

      Basically, by accepting accompanied orders and using government funds to move overseas, you are obligating yourself to remain there until the tour is ended. Most (I think all, one way or another) people are given the option of making their overseas tours unaccompanied if that is going to be the best choice for their family.

      You, of course, have the option of leaving without ERD.

      Without knowing the whole picture, I can't really give you any suggestions. However, there are plenty of ways to help ensure your family's financial stability without returning to the US. Even a part-time job will increase your income to pay down debt or build savings and meticulous attention to your financial state can yield great improvements. Spending the next two years improving your education can boost your job opportunities when you return. Volunteering builds resumes and provides new skills.

      Good luck to you!

  23. armylifeofapilotswife says:

    Hi, just have some questions. We are under command sponsored orders in Korea, and we've been here almost 1 year of the 2 year tour. I am 26 weeks pregnant and I do not want to give birth at the hospital on base. I cannot get a referral to an off base hospital because I am not considered high risk. I would feel more comfortable giving birth at home in the states. Also, my old boss has offered me my job back, which I had to give up to move to Korea. It is difficult to work in Korea because of having to get a special visa, and those visas are only granted for certain fields. The job I am being offered pays very well and it is a work from home job. My question is, would it be likely that the Army will grant ERD and move us back? We are prepared to pay for our flight and to ship items in case it does not get granted.

    • Kate says:

      Dear Army Life, I can't say for sure, but your situation doesn't seem to fall into the usual approved categories for ERDs. I don't know if there any special situations in Korea that might inspire them to approve the ERD despite it not falling under the guidelines. Good luck!

  24. armylifeofapilotswife says:

    One more thing to note, we did CSP after my husband came here, they did not pay to move my daughter and I here or pay for our tickets to come to Korea at all, even though they gave command sponsorship.

  25. EAP says:

    I have a question. If ERD is not approved, will my spouse still receive OHA with dependents if I move back to the states? If not, is it legal for the military to take away both BAH and OHA with dependents if I move back. I am moving back for medical reasons but we are having a difficult time getting approval.

    • Kate says:

      According to the Joint Travel Regulations,

      "When all of a member’s dependents are returned early from an OCONUS PDS at personal expense, the member is not authorized a second housing allowance and the with-dependent rate housing allowance based on the member’s PDS continues without change (unless there is an OHA-related paperwork change). If the member vacates family-type Gov’t Qtrs that were occupied by the dependents before their departure, the member is authorized a with-dependent rate allowance for the member’s PDS (for OHA – starting with the paperwork date)."

      JTR Chapter 10 Part E Section 6

      Keep in mind that your spouse will continue to receive OHA for the amount he is actually paying in rent, up to his OHA limit.

      In order to not jeopardize your financial situation, it is really important that you completely exhaust every possible avenue for a government-approved ERD before deciding to move without government approval.

  26. Katherine says:

    We are in stationed in Hawaii – Hickam AFB on my husband's orders. Been here 1.5 years with 2.5 plus to go. We are struggling financially because of my student debt and I can not find work here. I have gone on at least 10 interviews but have found that it's hard to get hired in my field bc my stay is short term and I am not away of 'local culture'. I am a Canadian citizen but here in America on spousal visa. Our son is dual American-Cdn. We are both on my husband's orders here. We (my son and I) need to ERD back to Canada so I can re-start my teaching career which I had before marrying my husband and living the military spouse life. I need Canada too because all my family and support is there. What is the best way to go about this so we get approved? How long does the process take. I need to be there for March '15 which is 4 months for teaching interviews which are to be in-person only. Help! We really need to leave! My husband will have to finish the rest of his duty here and will be trying to get out sooner as he doesn't not want to renew his military contract and he wants to move to Canada too since that is my country. I need to find a steady job so we can make this happen. Any suggestions or advice is helpful. Also

    • Kate says:

      Katherine, while I suppose you could apply for an ERD, I am doubtful it would be approved because your situation doesn't really fall under the criteria that the overseas posting is the root cause of the financial hardship.

      You have two options: find a way to make it in Hawaii, or move back to Canada at your own expense.

      I know that it is challenging to find work in Hawaii, but it can be done. IIf you are not having any success with a teaching job, then perhaps you need to look outside of your field. I found my first permanent job in Hawaii by temping…nearly every place I temped offered me a full-time job once they saw my work. I also got involved in LOCAL volunteer groups and when my position was eliminated, my local friends were jumping in to help me find a new job. It is a different job hunting strategy than you might have used in the past, but it does work.

      I understand that you feel like an ERD is the best solution for your current situation, but I don't think it is going to meet the criteria for a government funded move.

      Good luck to you.