FEBRUARY 14, 2020 – After starting her military career on active duty, Lt. Col. Teresa Wenner wanted to come home and serve in her home state of Washington.
“After serving for a decade on active duty and getting the opportunity to deploy overseas, I became interested in a venue to make a similar impact where I grew up,” said Wenner, a Military Intelligence officer and commander of the 341st Military Intelligence Battalion. “My hometown of Shelton is where I spent the first 18 years of my life surrounded by a loving community of friends and family.”
But after moving home and joining the Washington National Guard, life changed and Wenner found her new home was now on the east coast in New Jersey. That, however, hasn’t stopped her desire to continue serving in the Washington National Guard. And the Guard is now giving her a stipend to cover some of her travel expenses – something other soldiers might qualify to receive, too.
The Inactive Duty for Training (IDT) Travel Reimbursement Program is a National Guard Bureau program that is intended to keep members traveling more than 150 miles for drill in their unit ranks. Through the program, soldiers that travel for drill can be reimbursed up to $300 each month for transportation expenses only during the fiscal year.
“The Washington Army National Guard has many diverse options for careers, and specifically my interests, military intelligence and information operations,” said Wenner. “Although my family and I have moved to a different state, I continue to serve in the Washington Army National Guard because of the comradery amongst the organization and the unique opportunities to both serve overseas and my hometown and state.”
To receive funds through the Inactive Duty for Training (IDT) Travel Reimbursement Program, Guardsmen must first identify if they are eligible for the program by meeting one or more of the following criteria:
- Qualified in a skill designated as critically short by the Washington Army National Guard.
- Assigned to a unit of the Washington Army National Guard with a critical staffing shortage, or in a pay grade with a critical staffing shortage. (This is how Wenner got her stipend).
- Assigned to a unit or position that is disestablished or relocated as a result of a stationing or command-directed action.
“The purpose of this retention-based program is to ensure that soldiers do not spend an unreasonable amount of money to fulfill their statutory obligation,” said Melvin Mason, the IDT/Annual Training program manager for the state.
After determining their eligibility, the soldier and unit must complete a memorandum for record with basic soldier information and submit it to their commander for approval. After approval, the memo will be sent through the soldier’s higher unit to the state Army National Guard operations office. Once validated and approved by the G3, the approved memo will be sent back through the appropriate channels for subsequent Defense Travel System (DTS) submissions for IDT travel.
“We have many Guardsmen in the 56th Theater Information Operations Group that utilize this program — they are the specialty branches and occupations — but it is something that many Guardsmen are probably eligible for but haven’t taken advantage of,” said Mason. “We are here to help them got through the process.”
If you have questions about the program or are looking for more information, please contact your unit administrator.
Story by Joseph Siemandel
Joint Forces Headquarters, Washington National Guard