New leave and liberty guidance issued to help save lives

18 Aug 2003 | Cpl. Shawn C. Rhodes

A new leave and liberty guidance policy is in effect to help ensure Marines on leave receive as much opportunity as possible to conduct travel during daylight hours.

Lieutenant Gen. Henry P. Osman, commanding general, II Marine Expeditionary Force, approved the guidance Aug. 3 to encourage commanders to release Marines for leave in the morning on the day of departure instead of in the afternoon. 

The departure date will still be considered a workday, which begins at 7:30 a.m. and ends when the Marine is released.  Additionally, Marines will return from leave in the evening on the day of return instead of in the morning. 

This guidance policy helps ensure Marines travel during daylight hours.

"This leave guidance policy came from the special liberty policy we initiated in April 2002," said Stubenville, Ohio, native Joyce C. Haas, occupational safety and health manager, II MEF.  "We saw a definite decrease in accidents during the holiday season after the special liberty guidance policy was started."

The new leave and liberty guidance policy reflects the same intent as the special liberty changes provided last year.  At that time, officials here were concerned with the high accident rates taking place between 11 p.m. and dawn, so they encouraged commanders to release their Marines for special liberty in the morning so they would do their long-distance driving during the day.

"We on Lejeune are at the tip of the spear with safety.  We were the first to issue a special liberty guidance policy in '02, and now we are the first to issue a special liberty and leave guidance policy," said Haas.

Osman stated in his letter outlining the policy that many of the Marines take unacceptable risks, especially off base and on liberty.  Many push the limits of fatigue and good judgment during normal weekend liberty or at their home of record, he explained, and automobile and motorcycle mishap rates are simply unacceptable and must be reduced.

Ensuring Marines travel only during the daylight hours will be key in preventing accidents and deaths on the road during long journeys, Osman added.

Haas emphasized that despite Osman's guidance, commanders will still determine Marines' time of departure and return from leave.

"A common misconception is the safety office enforces anything, when we really just provide guidance," said Haas.  "We trust the commanders to follow it because it makes sense."

Many Marines believe the new leave and liberty guidance policy will be a good idea.  In addition to saving lives, it will help them with their travel.

"I think it's a good idea," said Reno, Nev., native Lance Cpl. Andrew Stone, a company clerk with Headquarters and Support Company, 3rd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment. "Traveling during the day will help prevent a lot of accidents.  It's good they're using knowledge gained from previous leave and liberty accidents to help ensure we don't lose any more Marines."