In addition to being able to request a discharge, sole surviving sons and daughters are exempt for involuntary deployment or assignment to combat areas.
However, for the assignment limitation program, there are a couple of differences. First of all, it applies to commissioned and warrant officers, as well as enlistment members.
The biggest difference, however, is that under the discharge provisions, an enlisted member doesn't have to be the "sole" surviving son or daughter in order to apply for a discharge. Under the assignment policy, however, one must be the "sole surviving son or daughter.
A sole surviving son or daughter is a service member who is the only surviving son or daughter in a family where the father, or mother, or one or more sons or one or more daughters, served in the U.S. Armed Forces, and as a direct result of the hazards of duty in the Service, the father, or mother, or one or more sons or daughters:
- Was killed, or
- Died as a result of wounds, accident or disease, or
- Is in a captured or missing-in-action status, or
- Is permanently 100 percent physically disabled (including 100 percent mental disability), as determined by the Department of Veterans Affairs or one of the Military Services, and is not gainfully employed, because of that disability. In the Marine Corps, the veteran must also be "continually hospitalized."
Members may waive entitlement to the assignment limitation, whether entitlement was based on the member's own application or the request of the member's immediate family.
Unless entitlement is waived, "sole survivor" military members will not be assigned to:
- Combat and hostile fire areas.
- Duties that require travel within the limits of the hostile fire zone.
- A command where combat conditions exist, unless the area is not physically located in the geographical limits of the hostile fire zone.
Example One: A male captain has one brother and two sisters. The brother dies in a military training accident. This member would be eligible for hostile fire assignment deferrment, because there are no other brothers left. He is the "sole surviving son."
Example Two: A female Private First Class has one sister and one brother. The brother dies in combat. The member would not be eligible for combat zone assignment deferrment, because she is not the sole surviving daughter (there is another daughter still living).
Example Three: A female major has no brothers or sisters. While serving in the military, her father becomes rated as 100 percent disabled (service-connected) by the VA. The member is eligible for hostile fire assignment deferrment, because she becomes the "sole surviving daughter" when the father was rated 100 disabled by the VA.
Example Four: A male Staff Sergeant has one brother. While serving in the military, his father becomes rated as 100 percent disabled (service-connected) by the VA. In this case, the member is not eligible for hostile fire assignment deferrment, because he isn't "sole surviving;" there is another "son" (his brother) who is living and not disabled.
Members who have waived sole surviving son or daughter status may request reinstatement of that status at any time. If reinstatement is approved, the member will be removed promptly from the hostile fire area or to a safe haven within the combat zone until reassignment.
Some of the above information courtesy of the Selective Service