B-234009, Dec 19, 1989

B-234009: Dec 19, 1989

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Travel Entitlement of Dependent: This is in response to a request by the Air Force for an advance decision on the propriety of reimbursing Senior Master Sergeant (SMSgt.). His daughter flew to North Carolina on July 3 and was married in August. Booker for her travel (not to exceed the cost of travel from Hahn to Davis-Monthan in any event) because she no longer was his dependent. Booker's daughter is similar to that of a dependent child who reaches the age of 21 while the service member is stationed outside the continental United States. Provide that the (former) dependent is entitled to travel back to the United States at government expense as long as he or she traveled to the overseas post at government expense as the member's dependent.

B-234009, Dec 19, 1989

MILITARY PERSONNEL - Relocation - Relocation travel - Dependents - Eligibility DIGEST: The dependent daughter of a service member stationed overseas returned to the United States shortly before the member's permanent change of station (PCS) back to the United States, in connection with which he had been authorized dependent travel, and lost her dependent status through marriage before the PCS. The member may be reimbursed for the cost of her travel since the daughter had traveled to the overseas post at government expense as the member's dependent.

SMSgt. Wilbert D. Booker, Jr.-- Travel Entitlement of Dependent:

This is in response to a request by the Air Force for an advance decision on the propriety of reimbursing Senior Master Sergeant (SMSgt.) Wilbert D. Booker, Jr., for travel by his daughter from Hahn, West Germany, to Charlotte, North Carolina. The Per Diem, Travel and Transportation Allowance Committee has assigned Control Number 88-18 to the case. For the reasons presented below, SMSgt. Booker may be reimbursed.

On June 27, 1988, the Air Force issued orders to SMSgt. Booker transferring him from Hahn, West Germany, to Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Arizona, effective October 5. The orders authorized travel at government expense for SMSgt. Booker's family in connection with the permanent change of station (PCS). His daughter flew to North Carolina on July 3 and was married in August. The Air Force questions the propriety of reimbursing SMSgt. Booker for her travel (not to exceed the cost of travel from Hahn to Davis-Monthan in any event) because she no longer was his dependent, due to her marriage, on the effective date of the PCS.

The situation involving SMSgt. Booker's daughter is similar to that of a dependent child who reaches the age of 21 while the service member is stationed outside the continental United States. In that case the Joint Federal Travel Regulations (JFTR), vol. 1, para. U5215B, provide that the (former) dependent is entitled to travel back to the United States at government expense as long as he or she traveled to the overseas post at government expense as the member's dependent.

Also, in 53 Comp.Gen. 960 (l974) we discussed the situation of another group of dependents who lose their dependency status: spouses of service members who divorce while overseas. In that decision, we agreed that ex- spouses should be allowed to return to the United States at government expense even though they no longer were dependents when the members themselves were eligible to return to the United States. The JFTR subsequently was amended consistent with that conclusion. See JFTR, vol. 1, para. U5215I. In a related decision, 52 Comp.Gen. 246 (l972), we discussed the travel entitlement of ex-spouses of civilian employees overseas. We agreed with the Department of State's view that since an employee and the members of his family are sent to an overseas post for the convenience of the government, the government has an obligation to return them to the United States at government expense.

The reasoning in those decisions applies as well to SMSgt. Booker's daughter's situation. The government paid for her to travel overseas in connection with her father's PCS, and the government logically should pay for her return. Therefore, the voucher for her travel to the United States may be paid, if otherwise correct.