DoD Implements Murkowski-Led ‘Free Flight Home’ Program for Alaska Servicemembers
U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) today applauded the Department of Defense (DoD) implementing the free flight home provision she spearheaded in her Don Young Arctic Warrior Act, which was included in last year’s National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). The provision reimburses servicemembers for the cost of one flight to their home of record during a three-year tour to alleviate hardships faced by serving in Alaska.
“Servicemembers 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. When the late Congressman Don Young, Congresswoman Jackie Speier, Senator Dan Sullivan, and I started writing the bill that would become the Don Young Arctic Warrior Act, our goal was to help alleviate the stress our servicemembers 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,” said Senator Murkowski.
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.
- In June 2023, the DoD announced the implementation of new regulation changes, including the transportation reimbursement for Armed Forces members assigned to Alaska.
- In May 2023, Senator Murkowski pressed Army officials during a Senate Defense Appropriations Subcommittee on improving the quality of life for servicemembers in Alaska—including through the free flight home provision.
- In May 2023, Senator Murkowski pressed the need for the free flight home with Secretary Austin in the review of the President's Fiscal Year 2024 Budget Request for the Department of Defense.
- In April 2023, Senator Murkowski raised the free flight home as a question for the record for Secretary Kendall following the hearing with the Department of the Air Force.
- In December 2022, the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2023 was signed into law the President, and included provisions from the Murkowski-led Don Young Arctic Warrior Act.
- In June 2022, Senator Murkowski introduced the Don Young Arctic Warrior Act, legislation to alleviate some of the hardships faced by service members in Alaska. The bill included Murkowski’s Free Flight Home provision, which would allow for Military members who are E-5 and below to have access to one free flight during a three-year tour equal to the cost to travel to their home of record.