EAS from Corps early for education

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EducationThere are two ways Marines can finish their formal education outside of the Marine Corps prior to the end of their current contract. One is through the Early Release to Further Education Program, and the second is the Voluntary Enlisted Early Release Program.

“The purpose of the early release program is to allow Marines the opportunity to take advantage of an educational opportunity,” said Capt. Greg Obar, adjutant, Headquarters and Service Battalion, Marine Corps Base Camp Butler.

According to Marine Corps Order P1900.16F, qualifications for enlisted Marines applying for the Early Release to Further Education Program are: the Marine must not be a six month trainee or a reservist ordered to active-duty due to unsatisfactory participation in their reserve duties, must be eligible for an honorable discharge, and must not be essential to the command’s mission.

The ERFE program also requires Marines to be accepted into an accredited college or vocational/technical school, which would require the Marine to attend a full-time course of instruction for a period of at least three months.

Additionally, the release date requested must fall within 90 days of the Marine’s original Expiration of Active Service date, however, Marines will not be allowed to EAS any sooner than one month before the start of class, said Obar.

In addition, Marines who request early release for education will still be considered for promotion.

As with ERFE program, the VEERP also releases Marines from their contracts early, but it has a different purpose and different guidelines.

“The purpose of VEERP is to lower personnel costs within the Marine Corps,” said Obar.

According to Marine Administrative Message 177/10, Marines must meet specific qualifications to be eligible for the VEERP. The Marine’s EAS date must fall between April 1, 2010, and the end of fiscal year 2011; they must be eligible for an honorable or general under honorable conditions discharge; they cannot be stabilized for deployment at the time of request; and they are required to attend mandatory pre-separation counseling.

“With VEERP, you could be accepted into 20 schools, or you could be accepted into no schools, and you could still be qualified for VEERP,” said Obar.

Specific qualifications that apply to both VEERP and the ERFE program include: Marines must not be trying to qualify for citizenship by completing three years of active-duty unless they are to be transferred to inactive duty in a reserve component, or have acquired additional obligated service due to advanced training or indebtedness to the government.

To get authorization to EAS early, Marines must submit an application to their company first sergeant, who will then send it up the chain of command, said Obar.

Since VEERP is a temporary incentive option to ease a burden on the Marine Corps, the process to take advantage of it is less complicated.

“Early release takes longer to get approved and has more qualifications that must be met,” said Obar about the ERFE program.

The ERFE is an ongoing program. It may be altered over time, but because it is a Marine Corps Order, it won’t be cancelled, said Obar. The current VEERP, however, is scheduled to expire on Sept. 30, 2011.

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