Marine Corps Humanitarian Assignments

Humanitarian Transfer or Hardship Discharge

US Marine walking down train tracks, rear view
Getty Images/Tyler Stableford

Unfortunately, for military and civilians alike, difficulties happen in life that require special attention from employers, or in this case the chain of command. Normally, these are the types of life challenges that stop us dead in our tracks and we are forced to deal with these situations. Situations like terminal illness of an immediate family member (spouse, child), sole child guardian seriously ill or passes away suddenly, or other life changing events will like prompt a few different responses from the military member's chain of command to assist: Humanitarian Transfer, Hardship Discharge, Emergency Leave, or Temporary Assigned Duty.

Humanitarian Tranfers

Marine Corps Humanitarian Transfers to another duty station or the cancellation of PCS (permanent change of station) orders to permit retention on station are initiated at the request of the individual. The transfer action is for the personal convenience of the Marine and is designed to solve short-term situations.

Such transfers are for the member's convenience and there are no entitlements to travel or transportation allowances for the member to return to the old permanent duty station to assist in the movement of dependents or household goods. Travel and transportation allowances will be allowed from the member/dependents location to the new permanent duty station upon receipt of the authorization for the humanitarian transfer.

For the purposes of Humanitarian Transfers, "short-term" is defined as 36 months or less, or date of release from active duty/discharge, whichever comes first. Approvals for retention on station are normally approved for 12 months.

Personal and family problems that can reasonably be expected to continue beyond three years from the date of transfer are considered long-term in nature and could constitute a limitation on the availability of the Marine for worldwide assignment. As such, the solution to the Marine's problem may more appropriately be a hardship discharge; or transfer to the FMCR or Retired List in lieu of being discharged.

Program Criteria

To qualify for consideration under this program, the following criteria must be satisfied:

  • The situation must be of such severity as to present a personal problem that is more severe than those normally encountered by Marines and their families in the course of military service.
  • The hardship occurred or was aggravated as a result of the Marine's beginning the initial term of service, or subsequent to the date of the last reenlistment.
  • The Marine has made every effort to solve the personal problem by taking leave; corresponding with social service agencies in the locale of the hardship; filing dependency applications and registering allotments for financial support to immediate family members; seeking legal assistance at the present duty station; and seeking medical treatment (including psychological counseling/therapy) for family members at the present CONUS duty station, i.e., Chaplains, Family Service Centers.
  • The problem described must be controlled or resolved to permit the unrestricted assignment of the Marine within the time frame of a normal CONUS tour (36 months).
  • The problem must involve the Marine's immediate family and the individual's presence must be required to alleviate or eliminate the hardship. For the purpose of humanitarian transfer/TAD/retention on station, the term "immediate family" is defined as the spouse, natural or step-children, brothers, sisters, and the Marine's or spouse's parents. A person who has stood in loco parentis for at least 2 years preceding the Marine's entry on active duty qualifies as a parent for the purpose of this paragraph.
  • Requests for humanitarian transfer will not receive favorable consideration when the basis, therefore, is to assist in farming/mining ventures, personal business ventures, or to attend to personal legal matters. When the Marine's presence is requested solely to provide moral support, transfer/reassignment will not be directed.

Examples of Normally Approved Requests

Requests for humanitarian transfer/TAD/retention on station or hardship discharge generally will receive favorable consideration when the following conditions exist:

  • Terminal illness (life expectancy less than 6 months) of a member of the Marine's or spouse's immediate family (as defined above), where the presence of the Marine is required.
  • Illness of a member of the Marine's or spouse's immediate family where the attending physician certifies the Marine's presence is required for the well-being or welfare of the patient.
  • No other relatives are capable of providing the assistance necessary to alleviate the hardship.
  • A Marine becomes a single parent as a result of unforeseen circumstances; for example, the death of a spouse.

Where a humanitarian transfer is desired, the requested duty station must have a billet vacancy requiring the grade and MOS of the Marine. As a matter of general policy, when a humanitarian transfer request is approved, a Marine will not be assigned to a recruiting station, Marine Corps district headquarters, or to small Marine Corps detachments (one for one billet).

Where no billet vacancy exists at the Marine Corps activity closest to the location of the hardship, TAD (Temporary Duty) may be authorized up to a total of 6 months, as described below.

Temporary Duty (TAD)

When possible, if an individual's problem is of short duration, and the requirement for the Marine's presence is substantiated by documentation, permissive TAD will be authorized at the Marine Corps activity closest to the location desired by the Marine. Orders to such TAD must be clearly in the best interest of the Marine Corps and may be for a period of not more than 6 months. Any request for an additional period of TAD will advise the CMC (MMOA/MMEA or RA) of the current status of the Marine's problem, and an estimate of the time needed to resolve it.

Since the TAD is for the personal convenience of the Marine, no per diem or travel expenses will be authorized. Travel-time expended in conjunction with permissive TAD is chargeable as annual leave.

TAD will not be authorized by the CMC where the appropriate solution to the Marine's problem could be achieved through the use of annual or emergency leave. It is expected that prior to granting a Marine TAD, the individual will exhaust the currently authorized leave period in attempting to resolve the problem.

For complete information about the Marine Corps Humanitarian Assignments Program, see Marine Corps Order P1000.6Assignment, Classification and Travel Systems Manual, paragraph 1301. Also see additional link for Hardship Discharge.