JBLM commander defines local commute area

By Sandra Pishner on September 14, 2012

Reservists who commute to Joint Base Lewis-McChord for duty receive travel pay based on distance. Those traveling from outside an established commuting area are eligible for lodging. That commute area has recently changed.

Based on a policy memorandum recently signed by the Joint Base Lewis-McChord commander, Col. H. Charles Hodges, and coordinated with the 446th Airlift Wing commander, Col. Bruce Bowers, Jr., the local travel area surrounding JBLM has been redefined.

The local travel area surrounding JBLM is defined as Pierce and Thurston counties and portions of Lewis, King, Kitsap, and Mason counties. Zip codes more precisely identify the commute area.

Reservists can find the new policy, with list of zip codes defining the commute area, on the wing's SharePoint page under "Announcements."

The new policy memorandum supersedes previous procedures for determining local commute area contained in 446th AW/CC Interim Guidance Memorandum dated Aug. 4 , 2009 and becomes effective for Reservists for all travel beginning Nov. 1.

"Before, the guidance we followed to determine the local commute area was 50 miles or one hour drive time. But, the Joint Federal Travel Regulation specifies that we can't use an arbitrary radius to define the local commuting area," said Butch Cruz, 446th AW Financial Management Office. "And the JFTR also gives the installation commander the authority to establish the commute area."

"I think a few more people will now be outside the local commute area, thereby increasing requirements for lodging a bit," said Cruz, who also is a senior master sergeant with the 446th Operations Group. "An area we focused on was Seattle. Under the new policy, the Seattle area north of I-90 is now outside the local commute area. Previously, some of those areas were considered local."