Things to know about voluntary dependent departure from Turkey

  • Published
  • 39th Air Base Wing Public Affairs
On Sept. 2 Col. John Walker, the 39th Air Base Wing commander, announced the secretary of Defense's decision to authorize voluntary departure for family members of U.S. personnel in Adana, Turkey, to include Incirlik Air Base. Details of the voluntary departure are still evolving. Below is a list of frequently asked questions and answers based on the information available at this time.

General information

Q. Is the U.S. government authorizing departure of Defense Department personnel and dependents?
A. On Sept. 2, 2015, the secretary of Defense authorized the voluntary departure of DOD dependents from Adana, Turkey, to include Incirlik AB.

Q. What is authorized voluntary departure?
A. An authorized departure is the voluntary departure of command-sponsored military and civilian employee dependents, authorized at government expense with return also at government expense. This authorizes the voluntary departure for dependents wishing to depart Incirlik and Adana, Turkey, due to the current security environment around Incirlik AB.

Q. What is early return of dependents?
A. The ERD is already in place for all personnel living outside the continental U.S., and will remain an option. It uses the funding associated with the return portion of a permanent change of station. ERD is an early PCS for dependents that includes moving their household goods. However, unlike the AVD, this is generally a one-way irreversible decision, meaning the government will not pay to return the family member or their household belongings if circumstances in Turkey change. ERD also has different monetary allowances and entitlements.

Q. Who is in charge for military/military dependent movement?
A. DOD will arrange transportation for DOD personnel and dependents.

Q. When can I volunteer for the authorized departure, and when does the 30-day window close?
A. Dependents are able to volunteer anytime during the 30 day AVD timeframe which is set to expire Oct. 1, unless it is extended.

Q. If I don't volunteer today can I volunteer at a later date?
A. Yes, family members can volunteer as long as the authorized departure remains in effect.

Q. If I chose ERD because it was the only option available, but now AVD is authorized, can I switch?
A. If an ERD move is complete, then AVD is likely not an option. If an ERD has yet to begin, dependents at Incirlik AB would be eligible for AVD.

Q. Is this mandatory or can dependents elect to remain?
A. No, at this point this is only a voluntary departure and dependents may elect to remain at Incirlik. However, we are encouraging dependents to weigh all options and be prepared in the event that the situation in Turkey changes.

Q. How does this apply to joint spouses or single parents?
A. If joint serving sponsors have children; the commander may authorize a parent/guardian to escort children to the departure location. This should be coordinated through your unit commander.

Q. If pregnant, can I travel?
A. Yes, if approved by appropriate medical personnel.

Q. Are current tour lengths adjusted, or will they finish out their commitment, even if it was an accompanied tour?
A. Currently, the tour lengths have not been adjusted. If the tour lengths remain accompanied, then the service member will remain at that duty station until they have reached their date eligible to return from overseas.

Q. Are military members/essential civilians allowed to accompany dependents to the port of embarkation? Allowed to accompany dependents to the states?
A. This type of travel would be subject to the authorization of the unit or installation commander, and/or supervisors, in accordance with service regulations.

Q. Is it still safe to have family members in Turkey?
A. The safety and security of our people is paramount. Given the recent developments in the security environment in Southern Turkey, we are currently reviewing -- in cooperation with other U.S. agencies -- various options to limit undue risk to our military personnel and dependents. These consultations have been occurring since the end of July.

Q. My sponsor is deployed, will he/she come home?
A. Return of deployed members will be on their normally scheduled rotation.

Q. Will all civilians depart Incirlik AB, or just dependents?
A. DOD dependents who wish to depart from Incirlik AB have been authorized to do so by the secretary of Defense. Mission essential personnel will remain.

Q. What about pets, will you return them to the U.S. with the dependents?
A. There are approximately 287 pets located with dependents at Incirlik AB. Families will be provided the required resources to return with eligible pets, in accordance with appropriate customs procedures.

Q. How is this voluntary departure funded?
A. The DOD has joint and service funds identified for departures. Allowances and entitlements will be in accordance with the Joint Travel Regulation, Chapter 6.

Q. How long will the departure process take?
A. Families initially have up to 30 days to determine if they wish to volunteer to depart. Military and civilian aircraft may be used to transport volunteering dependents from the Incirlik AB area. As there are many factors that will determine the length of the departure, we will only take as long as necessary to safely return all dependents to the U.S.

Q. Is this a noncombatant evacuation operation?
A. No, this is a voluntary departure of dependents who wish to leave Incirlik AB, Turkey, due to the current environment. NEO is a Department of State-initiated evacuation mission, which is conducted in order to ensure that non-mission essential civilians and family members are evacuated to the U.S. or other nearby safe haven location during an unpredictable and unstable environment.

Q. Is this a temporary move or PCS to the U.S.?
A. AVD is a voluntary move to a temporary duty location and will be reevaluated on a regular basis to determine if a return option is feasible. If the current ERD option is taken, then the move will be permanent until the service member rotates on their regular PCS cycle.

Q. Will departure become mandatory?
A. At this point this is only a voluntary departure and dependents may elect to remain at Incirlik AB. However, dependents are encouraged to weigh all options and be prepared in the event that the situation in Turkey changes.


Q. Who is eligible?
A. Authorized departure is eligible for command-sponsored dependents of DOD military and civilian personnel stationed at Incirlik AB and in the Adana area only.


Q. Will dependents be able to pack up their household belongings?
A. During the authorized voluntary departure, dependents are authorized unaccompanied baggage allowances, plus the travel luggage/baggage.

Q. Will the PCS traffic management office process be the same?
A. We expect this to not change the regular PCS TMO process.

Q. If I don't depart, will the commissary and exchange remain available to me?
A. If a command-sponsored dependent chooses to remain at the duty station and retains their DOD dependent identification card, they will still have access to the commissary, exchange and related base services.

Q. Will schools remain open, or be closed, and will teachers and staff remain, or will they return to the U.S.?
A. At this time, schools will remain open.

Q. Will returning families have access to medical care?
A. Dependents who are enrolled in the TRICARE program will retain their eligibility.

Q. If medical care is needed, how is that handled?
A. Dependents who are enrolled in the TRICARE program will retain their eligibility. If the need for routine medical care arises during the first 60 days of being in the safe haven location, personnel should contact the Incirlik TRICARE office at 676-3373 to schedule an appointment with a local clinic. If the need for urgent care arises, personnel should go to the nearest clinic or emergency room and then call the International SOS number at 44-208-762-8133 to arrange for payment of any medical bills. If the voluntary dependent departure is extended and dependents are in the safe haven location for over 60 days, they will need to contact TRICARE to switch to the appropriate TRICARE region.

Q. If I purchase a ticket myself, will I be reimbursed?
A. No. Travel must be approved in advance and coordinated by military travel agencies.

Q. Q. How do I get my safe haven allowance?
A. This will be discussed during a one-on-one counselling session with the 39th Comptrollers Squadron prior to departing Incirlik AB.

Departure procedure

Q. How do I volunteer?
A. Applicable DOD personnel should notify their local chain of command in order to volunteer and understand their departure options.

Q. Can/will travelers decide where their final stop is?
A. Military services will work with volunteering families to determine the location that best suits the needs of the family members.

Q. What is the priority of departures?
A. The priority is based upon the government-provided travel arrangements.


Q. What documents must I have to travel?
A. All travelers participating in the AVD are required to have their passport, authorized departure orders, their common access card or dependent ID, orders bringing them to Turkey, NATO orders or, for newborns, proof of birth and residency permits. Non-U.S. citizens should bring their respective country's passport or contact the embassy or consulate to solicit assistance in obtaining appropriate travel documents.

Q. How much luggage can I bring?
A. Dependents will be authorized the same amount of luggage authorized by the applicable travel regulations or flight rules. Dependents are also authorized to ship unaccompanied baggage.

Q. What about my house/household goods/cars?
A. Household goods and cars will remain with the service member and will be moved upon permanent change of station, early return of dependents or at the end of the AVD period if the DOD changes accompanied tour authorizations.

Safe haven location

Q. Can/will departing family members move to their next projected duty station? What if it is an outside of the continental U.S. station?
A. Dependents will likely be returned to a CONUS temporary duty location, such as their home of record or follow-on PCS location, as quickly and efficiently as possible.

Q. Where will the dependents be returned to?
A. Family members will be returned to a temporary location in the CONUS, such as their home of record or anticipated follow-on PCS location, as quickly and efficiently as possible. Intermediate stops could be required in U.S. territories or countries agreeing to support transition requirements. This is conducted in close coordination with host nations to ensure authorization and support.


Q. Are there any restrictions to returning, i.e. time on station requirements?
A. The DOD or military services could implement restrictions, but there are none in place at this time.

Q. How will returning families know if or when they can come back?
A. The DOD will continuously reevaluate the situation, and if it is determined to be safe, will initiate actions that will return families who wish to return.