What you need to know about Early Return of Dependents

Most married Soldiers PCSing to the European Theater do so on an “accompanied” tour that includes their command sponsored family members.

Command sponsorship authorizes family members to move to Europe at government expense and affords them logistical support such as Tricare and schools for their children.

However, during one’s time in theater, occasions may arise that require the return of select or all of one’s family members back to their respective home of record. Examples include financial hardship, medical issues and marital problems that can’t be resolved. In these cases, the Soldier can opt to submit a request for an Early Return of Dependents, commonly known as an ERD or EROD. 

Every effort should be made to resolve all personal issues at the overseas location. Consideration of an EROD should not be taken lightly and should be one’s last choice and not the first option. 

ERODs may be requested by the Soldier, family member or directed by the commander. If a Soldier or a family member has a legitimate reason for requesting an EROD, then a DA Form 4187 must be submitted with recommendations from applicable agencies through the unit’s battalion S1 to the garrison commander for consideration. A unit commander also has the authority to request the order for the return of a family member if deemed in the best interest of the Army. In this instance, the commander will submit a request for an EROD through the battalion S1 to the garrison commander.

Command sponsored family members who are EROD are entitled to government paid travel, shipment of household goods and POV shipment back to CONUS regardless of who requested the EROD. Moreover, once an EROD is approved, the
respective family members lose their command sponsorship.

Once an EROD has been executed and the family members desire a return overseas, the individual’s sponsor must request for command sponsorship again. Command sponsorship is a privilege, and approval for returning family members is not a guaranteed. If the application is approved, all travel expenses back to the overseas location will be out of pocket. The government will not pay the travel expenses for the returning family members or for their shipment of household goods.

Lastly, EROD requests based on impending deployments will typically not be considered and may not be used in lieu of a family care plan.

As one can see, there are many things to consider prior to requesting an EROD. For additional information or questions about the EROD process, refer to the following regulations and Web site governing ERODS: AR 614-30, Overseas Service; AR 55-46, Travel Overseas; USAREUR Supplement 1 to AR 55-46 Travel Overseas; and Joint Federal Travel Regulation (JFTR) Volume I paragraph U5900 at www.imcom-europe.army.mil/sfac/admin/erd.htm.

(Courtesy of U.S. Army Europe Inspector General)