JOINT BASE MCGUIRE-DIX-LAKEHURST, N.J. -- No matter the service branch you are in, getting notified of a permanent change of station sets into motion a series of steps and tasks.
Each of these steps and tasks must be efficiently managed and accomplished before a service member can obtain his or her PCS orders. At least one of these steps involves ensuring dependents complete the 87th Medical Group Family Member Relocation Clearance process.
The medical clearance for active-duty Airmen to proceed on PCS orders is already set in motion. If an Airman is considered worldwide qualified, meaning they have no profile or duty limitations that constrain where they go, then they are set. Family members, however, may be another issue. Family Member Relocation Clearance is mandatory for dependent members traveling out of the continental U.S., those enrolled in the Exceptional Family Member Program and for all dependents with an identified chronic medical condition or educational service need that requires enrollment in EFMP.
The purpose of the FMRC process is to identify family medical and educational service requirements of members in support of active-duty sponsor reassignment.
It is important to know this information for two reasons. First, medical, educational and other specialty services may be limited or unavailable at a projected location. This has the potential to create an active-duty assignment failure and significant hardship for families and may hinder the Air Force's capability to coordinate positions and move members.
Second, the Military Personnel Section will not issue PCS orders until the clearance process is completed before. Not having orders can impact a service member's ability to plan other activities such as scheduling a household-goods movement.
The FMRC process can take as many as 90 days; therefore, it is important to initiate the process as soon as there is any indication that reassignment orders will be issued. Do not sell houses, cars or make any major changes until this process is complete. If a service member does so and his or her family has not been recommended for travel due to unavailability of medical or education services at the projected base, the member may be required to travel unaccompanied, receive a new assignment or extend his or her stay on home station.
A service member failing to report known conditions before relocation may result in subsequent administrative action or his or her dependents returning early. For questions regarding the FMRC process for PCS or EFMP, stop by 87th MDG room 1B41 to speak with Cheryl Thomas, the FMRC coordinator. She can provide a face-to-face briefing on the necessary paperwork and procedures needed to get medical clearance underway. Call 754-9752.
AFI 40-701 Medical Support to Family Member Relocation and Exceptional Family Member Program requires an Airman to update his or her case file yearly and prior to any PCS move if a family member is already enrolled in EFMP. Another great resource for information regarding this process include the Outbound Assignment Section of the MPS.
(Portions of the information used for this article are courtesy of Staff Sgt. Brandon Bennett from the 437th Medical Group)