Thursday, December 3, 2009

Army to separate Soldiers who don’t extend to deploy

Soldiers who don’t agree to extend their enlistments in units slated to deploy on or after Jan. 1 may be involuntarily separated up to three months early.

The new Enlisted Involuntary Early Separation Program will affect active-duty Soldiers scheduled to separate during the first six months of their unit’s deployment. These Soldiers will be asked to re-enlist or extend so they can stay with their unit through its full deployment and two months after returning.

Soldiers who participate in the Deployment Extension Incentive Program will receive an extra $350 or $500 for every month extended. (Those who extend at least six months before deploying will receive the full $500 per month.)

Those who don't re-enlist or extend will not deploy and will be separated up to three months prior to their contractual separation date, according to Maj. Jennifer Walkawicz, personnel policy integrator, G1.

The involuntary separation program applies only to regular Army enlisted Soldiers with more than 36 months of active service and less than 71 months of total service, Walkawicz said, when they have an ending term-of-service date during their unit’s first six months of deployment.

Soldiers with an ETS date occurring during the last six months of their unit’s deployment will still deploy and simply return early to out-process if they choose not to re-enlist or extend, she said. Walkawicz estimated that EIESP will result in 1,350 to 1,450 Soldiers being separated early with an annual cost savings of about $8.5 million.

‘‘The Army is implementing this program now as part of the Stop Loss Reduction plan,” she said, explaining that the Stop Loss program will be phased out beginning Jan. 1, in favor of voluntary extensions or early separation.

‘‘This program allows the Army to identify Soldiers preparing to ETS who will not deploy with the unit, then provide replacements for those Soldiers prior to the unit’s deployment date,” Walkawicz said.

She said the new guidance will ensure ample time for newly reporting Soldiers to train on individual and collective tasks and settle in their families. She said those Soldiers who have decided to leave the Army are generally first-term enlistees and will not lose any entitlements.

She also said Soldiers who chose not to re-enlist or extend for the deployment duration and are separated will retain all rights, privileges and benefits such as the Post-9⁄11 GI Bill benefits. However, EIESP Soldiers will not be entitled to pay and allowances for the period not served.

The involuntary early separation does not apply to Soldiers facing courts-martial or under investigation for Uniform Code of Military Justice offenses.The Army has mandated battalion commanders notify affected Soldiers at least 90 days prior to their adjusted date of separation. Due to the 90-day written notice requirement, Human Resources Command will phase in the EISP.

As the program is phased in, Soldiers with an ETS between April 1-30 will be separated one month earlier, Walkawicz said. Soldiers with an ETS between May 1-31 will be involuntarily separated two months earlier than their ETS; and Soldiers whose ETS is on or after June 1 will be separated three months earlier than their contract stipulates, she said.