KTVF: Free Flight Home program for Alaska service members

FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - Many service members stationed in Alaska are now eligible for a free trip home.

The Department of Defense (DoD) will now reimburse service members for the cost of one flight back to their home of record while they complete their three-year tour in Alaska.

This is good news for all 11th Airborne Division soldiers stationed at Fort Wainwright.

“It’s an expensive place to live day to day and if you’ve gone anywhere on the outside lately, you know that airfare is very restrictive to allowing, especially young service members, who this is their first duty station, it’s very restrictive in allowing them to get home for the holidays or to see their families or something like that. So, this program allows them for at one time during their tour of duty in Alaska, a free round trip ticket to their home of record and then back to Alaska,” said John Pennell, Public Relations Officer, 11th Airborne Division.

The process may vary slightly between branches and service members should ask their commanding officers and administration how to utilize the program before planning their trip home.

US Senator Lisa Murkowski spearheaded the free flight home provision through the “Don Young Arctic Warrior Act” which was included in last year’s National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).

“Service members stationed in Alaska face unique hardships, and the adjustment to living in our state can be a challenge for the men and women stationed there,” said Senator Murkowski

Murkowski added, “Our goal was to help alleviate the stress our service members face when being away from their families or loved ones. We know that isolation from families and support systems contributes to mental health struggles, this DoD announcement marking the start of the free flight home, a provision I fought hard to include in last year’s NDAA, will make a real, positive difference in the quality of life for our servicemembers,”

According to a DoD press release, the regulation directs the DoD to reimburse eligible Armed Forces members the cost of airfare from the member’s permanent duty station to their home of record when they are assigned to a PDS in Alaska and travel is authorized by an office of the pay grade O-5 and above. Airfare since December 23, 2022 can be retroactively reimbursed.

By:  KTVF Staff Reporter