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Accompaniment Made Easy(er)

If you’re a military family in South Korea, you know it's not getting there that is half the battle. That part is comparatively easy. The real challenge is in landing a command sponsorship to live there. Without one Uncle Sam won’t foot the housing expenses or travel bill. And putting your family up in Korea on your own can cost a pretty penny.

Since, thanks to base infrastructure limits, there are only enough sponsorships available for about a third of those who are married, the waiting list for the spots is huge. According to this story, there are about 940 troops awaiting sponsorship as of late last month.  The alternative to sponsorship is either leaving your family behind in the states or moving them to Korea yourself, and, at least in the past, without a clue as to whether or not you’ll eventually get housing.

To ease the problem, US Forces Korea has just instituted a new policy aimed at helping families figure out what the likelihood of getting such a sponsorship is.

Under the old system, service members and their families could linger on the sponsorship waiting list for their entire time in country, never knowing what the odds were of making the cut. The new system, on the other hand, is designed to make the process easier, Joanne Sharp, spouse of US Forces Korea Commander Gen. Walter Sharp, told us via email.

The details of the new policy according to the story:

Slots are distributed among the branches of service: 3,700 for the Army, 700 for the Air Force, 150 for the Navy and 50 for the Marines.

Approximately 10 percent of command sponsorships will be filled from Priority 1, a group that includes key leadership billets who are automatically stationed in South Korea for two years with or without their families. The largest chunk — 80 percent — will be filled from Priority 2, which includes those with skills that are critical to mission requirements and those whose jobs require specialized training.

The last 10 percent will come from Priority 3, made up mostly of enlisted troops in low in-demand jobs. Commanders will be able to consider factors including recent deployments, consecutive overseas tours and whether a service member is part of a dual military family when filling Priority 3 slots, according to the release.

Mrs. Sharp said she is in favor of the policy, in part because it will ease stress on family members.

“The policy will be much more predictable for people, and will give them a better idea of whether or not they will be able to come command sponsored,” she said.

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