Hey, guys! Although I have just created an account, this forum has been an invaluable resource to me over the past several months. To everyone who posts here and contributes to the dialogue, thank you. It really helps.
Disclaimer: I have done my research on this forum, and it seems that the community here has yet to reach a consensus on the topic. I speak with my recruiter often, but he does not always know the answers to my questions and often just assures me that everything will be taken care of at Cape May. I understand that this is the case, but for my family's sake, I would like to understand as much about the coming months as possible BEFORE I ship out and this crazy adventure begins.
Background: I am a male in my mid-twenties and am currently in the DEP with a ship date scheduled within the next few weeks. I am married and have a daughter who will be one year old by the time I ship out. I live in the western part of the United States.
Context: I know that I will accrue five days of leave during my 8 weeks at Cape May and that I will begin to use these days on the Saturday after graduation (i.e. my five days of leave will cover the Sat.-Wed. after graduation). It is also my understanding that travel days are provided based on mode of transportation and distance to be traveled (i.e. flying equates to one travel day, and driving equates to one day per 350 miles). I have read on this forum and elsewhere that the distance used to calculate the total number of travel days for an unmarried Seaman driving to his or her first duty station is based on the distance between Cape May and that duty station. However, there seems to be some disagreement as to whether or not the same rule applies married persons. Some are saying that if you are married, the mileage is calculated based on your home of record (i.e. where your wife and child are).
Question #1: Can anyone clarify whether the distance to a Seaman's first assignment (and, thus, the number of allotted travel days) is calculated from Cape May or from his or her home of record? I imagine it would be difficult for a single person living in the western states to relocate to an east coast duty station in the allotted five days of leave. I can only assume that it would even more difficult to move a family (especially a baby) across country in that amount of time, and I wouldn't want to leave my wife to make the drive without me.
Question #2: I understand if you choose to drive to your first duty station, you cannot fly there and treat the travel days as extra leave. However, if I choose to drive to my first duty station, I will have to first fly back home to pick up my family and my vehicle. How does this work? Will I have to purchase my own ticket home? Would this be considered an abuse of travel days as I would have given myself a head start, so to speak? Alternatively, would the CG compensate for this by allowing me one day to fly home to collect my family and my vehicle and then calculate the additional travel days based on the distance between my home of record and my new duty station?
I apologize for the wordiness of this post. However, there is sometimes a tendency in this forum to dismiss questions, telling the OP (sometimes in unfriendly language) to "figure it out" because "I'm not going to give you all of the answers", or simply to ask his or her recruiter. I have already been dismissed, to a certain extent, by my recruiter. As I said, I know that everything will work out and that I will understand it all when I get to Cape May. However, I want myself and my wife to be as prepared as possible. If anyone has been in a similar situation to my own (it seems like there would be a bunch of you, but I have no idea), please chime in! Any information will be greatly appreciated.