As an active duty service member or military dependent, moving is a normal part of life. Relocation assistance can help lessen the burden of these moves, even the last move you make as you retire from service. But getting the most out of the military's Relocation Assistance Program requires learning a bit about what you're entitled to and how to access these benefits.
While most service members and their families know that moving for the military comes with some financial assistance, many don't know the full extent of their potential relocation benefits. So what exactly is the military's Relocation Assistance Program? And who can take advantage of these important benefits?
What is the Relocation Assistance Program?
The Relocation Assistance Program is a broad support system for active duty and retiring military members and their families. This program and its staff help prepare military members and their loved ones for a permanent change of station, deployment, or other move. These resources are available to service members of any branch. And it also includes several online resources peripherally attached to the program.
Since moving is a regular part of military life, the United States Transportation Command offers a centralized place to learn about the moving process and ask questions. This organization, together with the Relocation Assistance Program, can also help teach you about purchasing a home, set you up with temporary storage options, and help pay for the cost of transporting your personal belongings.
Who Qualifies for the Relocation Assistance Program?
Any active duty service member who must move to a new station is entitled to some form of relocation assistance. Oftentimes, their full moving expenses will be reimbursed. But in some cases, only a portion of their expenses qualify for assistance. Retirees and separatees can also turn to this program for help as they leave active service and move to their new civilian home.
The Relocation Assistance Program is also open to helping those who don't qualify for financial compensation. If a service member or their family has questions about moving, needs help connecting to a sponsor in their new location, or requires other information about the relocation process, the Relocation Assistance Program is there to help.
What Benefits Come with Relocation Assistance?
The main benefit of the Relocation Assistance Program is that the government pays for all or most of your moving costs. Your actual moving allowance will depend on your rank, new station, dependents, and other factors. But for most service members, this program can greatly reduce their moving expenses.
Retirees and separatees also qualify for financial relocation assistance as they move from their last station to their new home. For separatees with less than eight years of continuous active service, support is limited. The military will only cover the costs of moving back to your Home of Record or Place Entering Active Duty. In other words, the home in which you lived when called to active duty. This move must occur within six months of separation. For retirees and separatees with more than eight years of continuous service, the government will cover the cost of moving to your Home of Selection. Your Home of Selection can typically be anywhere within the United States. This move must occur within a year of separation or retirement.
With the Relocation Assistance Program, you and your family have access to countless tools that will help streamline your move. You can track your personal belongings as they move from your old location to your new station. You can also connect with a sponsor who will help you transition into your life at your new home. But some of the most important services provided by this program are directed toward service members and their families returning from overseas.
Whether this is your first trip overseas or your tenth, the Relocation Assistance Program can help ease your transition. When moving overseas for a military assignment, often called an OCONUS move, you are typically eligible for moving expense reimbursement. This program can also determine if your family can accompany you overseas and if so, coordinate their relocation as well. The Relocation Assistance Program can also help you apply for an additional housing allowance or financial assistance as needed.
If your family is permitted to travel overseas with you, you might have access to services like spouse employment assistance. These programs can help connect your spouse to a job at your overseas installation. If allowed, they can even find employment outside of the base within the local economy. Your installation's legal assistance office can also assist your spouse with launching an at-home business of their own.
Help for Foreign-born Spouses
When returning from overseas, oftentimes the active service member is not the only person who needs help. The military offers relocation assistance services for foreign-born spouses entering the United States for the first time. These services include English classes and assistance for gaining a visa or citizenship.
You can also access translation resources through the military. These services can be essential for translating your spouse's personal documents or relaying important information to them in a clear manner. If there is anything else that you and your spouse need to make the transition easier, the Relocation Assistance Program is available to help connect you to the appropriate resources.
Where Can I Get Help with Relocation Assistance?
The Relocation Assistance Program is a broad program made up of several military offices and their staff. To access the full resources offered by this program, you may need to contact a variety of offices at both your current and new installations.
Each installation should have a relocation assistance point of contact that you can work with one-on-one. You may need to inquire with your new installation's Military and Family Support Center to learn who to contact. For help with moving your belongings from your current home to your new location, you can contact your installation's transportation office. And for assistance with locating and obtaining new housing, your installation's housing office is the place to go.
Your new installation's Military and Family Support Center will be the main source of assistance during your move. This center may go by a different name depending on your installation and base. The Support Center and its staff can help connect you to all of the resources you and your family need. You can schedule counseling for you and your family to help manage the stress of a mandatory move. You can also access the loan closet. This resource provides household supplies to those whose belongings have not yet arrived at their new location. If you haven't already connected with a sponsor, the Support Center can also point you toward the Sponsorship Program. Finally, you can meet with your School Liason Officer to help your children transition into their new schools.
Mastering Your Military Move
Moving in the military is extremely common but rarely easy. To help those who are moving to a permanent change of station or from their last station to their post-service home, the military maintains the Relocation Assistance Program. This program is a broad network of resources and tools that can help manage the emotional and financial stress of moving. It also helps ensure that you and your family transition into your new home with ease.
Obviously, the biggest benefit of this program is the financial compensation that most service members and their families receive for a service-related move. Even retirees and separates can receive reimbursement for their move home. But it's important to remember that this is just a fraction of what the Relocation Assistance Program has to offer.