B-168345, JANUARY 13, 1970, 49 COMP. GEN. 427

B-168345: Jan 13, 1970

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TO RESTRICT A MEMBER'S RETURN TO THE FACILITY FROM WHICH HE DEPARTED IS NOT REQUIRED IN VIEW OF THE APPARENT BENEFICIAL INTENT OF THE 1967 ACT TO RELIEVE A MEMBER OF THE TRAVEL EXPENSES INCURRED INCIDENT TO CONVALESCENT LEAVE. 1970: FURTHER REFERENCE IS MADE TO LETTER OF OCTOBER 15. THE REQUEST WAS ASSIGNED PDTATAC CONTROL NO. 69-39 BY THE PER DIEM. A MEMBER OF A UNIFORMED SERVICE IS ENTITLED TO TRAVEL AND TRANSPORTATION ALLOWANCES FOR TRAVEL FROM HIS PLACE OF MEDICAL TREATMENT IN THE CONTINENTAL UNITED STATES TO A PLACE SELECTED BY HIM AND APPROVED BY THE SECRETARY CONCERNED. " WHEN THE SECRETARY DETERMINES THAT THE MEMBER IS TRAVELING IN CONNECTION WITH AUTHORIZED LEAVE FOR CONVALESCENCE FROM ILLNESS OR INJURY INCURRED WHILE THE MEMBER WAS ELIGIBLE FOR RECEIPT OF HOSTILE FIRE PAY UNDER SECTION 310 OF THE SAME TITLE.

B-168345, JANUARY 13, 1970, 49 COMP. GEN. 427

TRAVEL EXPENSES -- MILITARY PERSONNEL -- LEAVES OF ABSENCE -- CONVALESCENT -- TRAVEL FROM CONVALESCENT LEAVE SITE A MEMBER OF THE UNIFORMED SERVICES WHO TRAVELS FROM HIS CONVALESCENT LEAVE SITE TO A MEDICAL TREATMENT FACILITY OTHER THAN THE ONE THAT GRANTED THE CONVALESCENT LEAVE INCIDENT TO AN ILLNESS OR INJURY INCURRED WHILE RECEIVING HOSTILE FIRE PAY UNDER 37 U.S.C. 310, MAY BE AUTHORIZED RETURN TRANSPORTATION AT GOVERNMENT EXPENSE PURSUANT TO SECTION 9(1) OF PUBLIC LAW 90-207, APPROVED DECEMBER 16, 1967 (37 U.S.C. 411A). TO RESTRICT A MEMBER'S RETURN TO THE FACILITY FROM WHICH HE DEPARTED IS NOT REQUIRED IN VIEW OF THE APPARENT BENEFICIAL INTENT OF THE 1967 ACT TO RELIEVE A MEMBER OF THE TRAVEL EXPENSES INCURRED INCIDENT TO CONVALESCENT LEAVE, AND THE GOVERNING REGULATIONS MAY BE AMENDED ACCORDINGLY.

TO THE SECRETARY OF THE AIR FORCE, JANUARY 13, 1970:

FURTHER REFERENCE IS MADE TO LETTER OF OCTOBER 15, 1969, FROM THE ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF THE AIR FORCE, REQUESTING A DECISION WHETHER SECTION 9(1) OF PUBLIC LAW 90-207, APPROVED DECEMBER 16, 1967, WHICH ADDED SECTION 411A OF TITLE 37, U. S. CODE, MAY BE CONSTRUED AS AUTHORIZING TRANSPORTATION AT GOVERNMENT EXPENSE OF A MEMBER OF A UNIFORMED SERVICE FROM HIS CONVALESCENT LEAVE SITE TO A MEDICAL TREATMENT FACILITY OTHER THAN THE ONE WHICH GRANTED LEAVE FOR FURTHER TREATMENT OF THE ILLNESS OR INJURY WHICH ENTITLED THE MEMBER TO CONVALESCENT LEAVE. THE REQUEST WAS ASSIGNED PDTATAC CONTROL NO. 69-39 BY THE PER DIEM, TRAVEL AND TRANSPORTATION ALLOWANCE COMMITTEE.

SECTION 411A OF TITLE 37, U. S. CODE, PROVIDES THAT UNDER UNIFORM REGULATIONS PRESCRIBED BY THE SECRETARIES CONCERNED, A MEMBER OF A UNIFORMED SERVICE IS ENTITLED TO TRAVEL AND TRANSPORTATION ALLOWANCES FOR TRAVEL FROM HIS PLACE OF MEDICAL TREATMENT IN THE CONTINENTAL UNITED STATES TO A PLACE SELECTED BY HIM AND APPROVED BY THE SECRETARY CONCERNED, "AND RETURN," WHEN THE SECRETARY DETERMINES THAT THE MEMBER IS TRAVELING IN CONNECTION WITH AUTHORIZED LEAVE FOR CONVALESCENCE FROM ILLNESS OR INJURY INCURRED WHILE THE MEMBER WAS ELIGIBLE FOR RECEIPT OF HOSTILE FIRE PAY UNDER SECTION 310 OF THE SAME TITLE.

THE ASSISTANT SECRETARY SAYS THAT THIS PROVISION WAS CONSTRUED, WHEN IMPLEMENTED IN THE JOINT TRAVEL REGULATIONS (VOLUME 1, CHAPTER 5, PART K), TO MEAN RETURN TO THE MEDICAL TREATMENT FACILITY FROM WHICH THE MEMBER WAS GRANTED CONVALESCENT LEAVE. HE FURTHER STATES THAT QUESTION NOW HAS ARISEN, HOWEVER, WHETHER TRANSPORTATION MAY BE FURNISHED FROM THE LEAVE SITE TO SOME OTHER MEDICAL TREATMENT FACILITY.

THE LEGISLATIVE HISTORY SHOWS THAT THE CHAIRMAN, HOUSE ARMED SERVICES COMMITTEE, IN EXPLAINING THE PURPOSE OF THE AMENDMENT TO H. R. 13510 WHICH BECAME SECTION 9(1) OF PUBLIC LAW 90-207 (113 CONG. REC. 35930, DECEMBER 12, 1967) MADE THE FOLLOWING STATEMENT:

STATED VERY SIMPLY, THOSE MILITARY PERSONNEL WHO, WHILE SERVING IN A SO- CALLED COMBAT AREA, RECEIVE EITHER INJURY OR SUFFER ILLNESS WHICH NECESSITATES THEIR RETURN TO THE UNITED STATES AND SUBSEQUENT MEDICAL TREATMENT WILL DURING SUCH PERIOD OF MEDICAL TREATMENT, AND WHEN THEY ARE PHYSICALLY ABLE TO ENJOY CONVALESCENT LEAVE, BE GIVEN TRANSPORTATION FROM THE MEDICAL FACILITY TO THEIR HOMES AND BACK TO THE MEDICAL FACILITY.

WHILE THE LANGUAGE OF SECTION 411A AND THE LEGISLATIVE HISTORY MIGHT WELL BE CONSTRUED AS AUTHORIZING RETURN TRANSPORTATION ONLY TO THE MEDICAL FACILITY WHICH GRANTED THE CONVALESCENT LEAVE, THE PURPOSE OF THE SECTION WAS TO PROVIDE TRANSPORTATION AT GOVERNMENT EXPENSE FOR THESE MEMBERS TO AND FROM THEIR HOMES OR OTHER APPROVED PLACES FOR CONVALESCENT LEAVE.

PRESUMABLY IN MOST CASES THE MEMBER WILL BE DIRECTED TO RETURN TO THE FACILITY FROM WHICH HE DEPARTED. HOWEVER, IF IT BE DEEMED APPROPRIATE THAT HE BE DIRECTED TO RETURN TO A DIFFERENT MEDICAL TREATMENT FACILITY, IT SEEMS UNLIKELY THAT CONGRESS INTENDED THAT SUCH TRAVEL WOULD BE AT HIS EXPENSE, THE APPARENT PURPOSE OF THE STATUTE BEING TO RELIEVE THE MEMBERS OF SUCH TRAVEL EXPENSES INCIDENT TO CONVALESCENT LEAVE.

THUS, WE ARE INCLINED TO THE VIEW THAT THE PROVISION FOR RETURN TRANSPORTATION, LIKE THE PROVISION FOR TRANSPORTATION TO THE PLACE OF CONVALESCENT LEAVE, WAS FOR THE BENEFIT OF THE MEMBER AND NOT INTENDED AS A RESTRICTION ON HIS RIGHT TO THE ALLOWANCE FOR RETURN TRANSPORTATION ANY GREATER COST TO THE ONLY TO THE FACILITY FROM WHICH HE DEPARTED. IT SEEMS UNLIKELY THAT THIS VIEW WILL RESULT IN ANY GREATER COST TO THE GOVERNMENT SINCE, IN APPROPRIATE CASES, THE SERVICES PRESUMABLY WILL ORDER THE MEMBER TO PROCEED DIRECTLY FROM THE LEAVE POINT TO THE NEW MEDICAL TREATMENT FACILITY RATHER THAN RETURN HIM TO THE FACILITY FROM WHICH HE DEPARTED AND THEN ORDER HIS TRANSFER.

WHILE THE MATTER IS NOT ENTIRELY FREE FROM DOUBT, IN VIEW OF THE BENEFICIAL NATURE OF SECTION 411A, WE ARE OF THE OPINION THAT IT MAY BE CONSTRUED TO AUTHORIZE TRANSPORTATION FROM THE LEAVE SITE TO A MEDICAL TREATMENT FACILITY OTHER THAN THE ONE WHICH GRANTED THE LEAVE, AND THE REGULATIONS PROMULGATED UNDER SECTION 411A MAY BE AMENDED TO SO PROVIDE.

THE QUESTION IS ANSWERED ACCORDINGLY.