Military families suffering from higher costs? Here is a relief.
For military families facing the financial pressures of soaring fuel prices, ever-escalating food prices and the costs of moving to a new duty station, there are new resources – and those of long date – to help them.
Service and defense officials have taken steps to mitigate the impact of rising costs and are considering longer-term solutions.
“Financial constraints due to inflation can create strain on our teammates, and it is our responsibility as leaders at all levels to do all we can to use available programs and resources to provide relief. and, if necessary, advocate for additional resources,” the Air Force said. Secretary Frank Kendall said in announcing the assistance available to Airmen and Guardians, as well as some ongoing efforts the service is undertaking with the Department of Defense.
Military relief societies have a long history of helping service members and families with a variety of emergency financial assistance, such as car repairs, travel for unexpected events such as funerals, and basic expenses such as rent and utilities.
But recently, relief society programs have also targeted the cost of shipping infant formula, the costs of securing housing in this highly competitive market, and the high cost of shipping pets to and from abroad during a permanent change of station orders.
Expenses related to housing and the PCS
♦ Facility managers may request fee extensions for temporary accommodation expenses beyond the traditional 10 days while service members wait for accommodation following a permanent change in station move. Under the Common Travel Regulations, facilities can request TLE extensions of up to 60 days.
♦ The DoD mileage rate for PCS travel increased from $0.18 per mile to $0.22 per mile, effective July 1. The mileage rate for TDY travel has increased from $0.585 to $0.625 per mile.
♦ Unaccompanied members who must leave government quarters, barracks or dormitories are now entitled to a partial travel allowance of $840.07, in accordance with a recent amendment to the joint travel regulations. Relocations may be necessary due to a lack of accommodation or work at the barracks, for example.
Previously, this allowance only applied to people who had to leave the family home. It allows partial reimbursement of household relocation costs. It does not apply to a move between unaccompanied accommodation.
♦ Defense officials are conducting a year-long pilot program to obtain additional data for the calculation of the Basic Housing Allowance. They will accept local market rental data from privatized military housing companies as an additional way to increase sample size and help ensure correct calculation. It will be used in the process to calculate the 2023 BAH rates. The process of setting up the BAH has been criticized by some, including Troops, Families and the Government Accountability Office.
♦ Coast Guard Mutual Assistance has expanded its housing and PCS assistance in response to housing and supply chain issues that persist this year. Coast Guard members can receive an interest-free loan of up to $9,000 to help cover the cost of expenses associated with securing a rental home, such as first and last month’s rent and security deposit. guarantee. Coast Guard members can also get an interest-free loan of up to $9,000 to help with closing costs when buying a new home. Previously, these loans were capped at $6,000. Other PCS-related loan programs include loans for household furnishings and start-up utility loans.
Like last year, housing prices were a big concern for many service members looking for homes during a PCS move. “The average closing cost in the United States in 2017 was $4,200. The average closing cost in 2021 was $6,300, an increase of 50%,” said retired CWO 2 Sean Fennell, chief operating officer of Coast Guard Mutual Aid, in the announcement of expanded assistance.
“It should be noted that these averages are based on the whole country. The coastal states where our Coasties live and work generally have much higher rates.
More help on the horizon?
While some efforts are currently helping military families, there are also ongoing studies, proposals, and changes that may impact troop finances in the future.
♦ The DoD has called for a 4.6% salary increase for the military in 2023, but lawmakers are also considering a plan to help troops with rising costs. Under the plan, troops who receive less than $45,000 in base salary would be eligible for monthly payments of 2.4% of their salary.
♦ Beginning in 2023, the DoD is authorized to pay a Basic Needs Allowance as supplemental income to service members and their family members whose gross household income falls below 130 percent of the federal poverty guidelines. To address food insecurity issues, military families are encouraged to speak to their leaders and family centers for information on food security-related grants and loans, and for referrals to support programs. government aid, the Air Force said. Local food banks near military installations and other organizations have also helped military families.
♦ Later this year, the DoD will launch the 14th Quadrennial Military Compensation Review to review and assess the military compensation system to enhance the economic security of troops.
♦ Due to the shortage of infant formula, some military families contacted relatives and friends across the country, asking them to browse their local stores for infant formula. This means that the form must be sent to the military family. So Coast Guard Mutual Aid has implemented a new temporary grant program to reimburse families up to $750 for the cost of shipping infant formula, whether from a retail purchase or from a family member or friend. The grant program runs until November 30.
Army Emergency Relief has activated a loan program that reimburses the costs of the dispatch formula, but there are exceptions where soldiers can receive money in advance to pay for the dispatch formula. Although the program is set up as a loan, grants will be considered where repayment of a loan would cause financial hardship.
Check with your other military relief companies. While the Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society doesn’t have a specific program for this, “it’s something we’ve always been able to provide assistance through our Rapid Assistance Loans and Loans uninspiring traditional dishes,” said company spokeswoman Gillian Gonzalez.
♦ Military families have many needs exacerbated by rising costs. The Air Force and other service branches have made efforts to educate their service members and families about available resources. Families are encouraged to contact their on-base Family Centers; MilitaryOneSource.mil online, by phone or chat; and their military relief society. The Air Force Aid Society and other military relief societies can provide assistance in the form of grants or interest-free loans for a variety of needs.
Karen has covered military families, quality of life and consumer issues for Military Times for over 30 years, and co-authored a chapter on media coverage of military families in the book “A Battle Plan for Supporting Military Families”. She previously worked for newspapers in Guam, Norfolk, Jacksonville, Florida and Athens, Ga.