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Company-grade officers who agree to join the Reserve can leave active duty up to a year early, according to recently announced details of the program.
For the third year running, captains and first and second lieutenants who join the Selected Marine Corps Reserve for at least two years can leave active duty up to 12 months early, according to Marine administrative message 366/13, signed July 22.
Under the FY14 Company Grade Officer Early Out Program, nearly all officers can transfer to the Selected Reserve through the Direct Affiliation Program, which recruits Marines to fill specific billets in specific units.
A primary advantage of the program, for those wanting to continue to serve in the Marine Corps after leaving active duty, is the measure of certainty it provides, according to manpower officials. Months before their end of active service date, Marines are guaranteed a billet at a specific location, helping them plan for moves, housing and jobs that fit with their service in the Reserve. For full details on the Direct Affiliation Program, refer to MARADMIN 462/12, available online.
A list of eligible billets is available on the Manpower and Reserve Affairs website, although Marines are encouraged to contact Reserve transition coordinators for guidance. Some Marines may be able to retrain for a lateral move into a new military occupational specialty to fill an open billet in an area where they want to live.
Additionally, those who directly affiliate with the SMCR can keep their Tricare health benefits for six months after leaving active duty, free of charge.
Officers taking advantage of the early out program may still be eligible for monetary incentives to join the Reserve based on rank, MOS and contract length. Company-grade officers who agree to serve three years in the SMCR, rather than the minimum two required under the early out program, can take home a $10,000 affiliation bonus, for example.
Marines getting out under the program must:
■ Not be career designated.
■ Affiliate with their new SMCR unit within 30 days of transfer to the Reserve.
The Company Grade Officer Early Out Program is similar to the Officer Voluntary Early Release Program, although OVER allows officers to leave the service just six months early with no additional benefits or obligated service.