Covid 19
COVID-19
Military Benefits
Response &  Resources

- As of Sep 2020 -

To say the least, COVID-19 (Coronavirus) has brought incredible change to the way we work and live. It has brought sudden new challenges and hardships to families across the world.  The DoD has addressed such challenges in various ways and has published new guidance to help protect the workforce. Our hope is that this consolidated list helps you overcome this pandemic with the best resources and knowledge insights to help you and your loved ones.

COVID-19 Military Travel - PCS, TDY, & Leave

What are the current COVID-19 military travel restrictions?

The Secretary of Defense (SECDEF) has published multiple memos since the start of the pandemic in the U.S. The most recent June 29th memo authorizes DoD Service Members to take leave outside of their local area. As of this 29 June DoD release, California, Florida, and Michigan still require a waiver to travel to, but all other states are open for Leave travel.

The June memo is an exemption to the May 22, 2020 memo which introduced a Conditions-Phased Approach. On the right hand side (or below text for mobile) you can download the 2 official travel memos, Travel Decision Flowchart, and accompanying DoD Installation Status Guide.

 

29 June DoD Memo

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DoD 22 May Travel Memo BLUF:

  • Applies to all DOD service members, DOD civilian personnel, and dependents

  • Cancels the last 20 Apr SECDEF memo on travel restrictions and is effective UFN

  • Stop movement still applies in general to international and domestic TDY’s, Leave, PCS, and outside local travel **Exemptions from 29 June Memo**

  • First, states and locations shall be evaluated using the Opening Up America Plan (Found here: https://www.whitehouse.gov/openingamerica/) and personnel could be allowed unrestricted travel if the following are met

    • Removal of shelter-in-place orders or other travel restrictions

    • 14-day downward trajectory offlu-like and COVID-19-like symptoms

    • 14-day downward trajectory of new COVfD-19 cases or positive tests

  • Any installation, facility, or location that meets the following can be considered to permit movement to and from as determined from a change in status from the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness (USD(P&R)) who will consult the Service Secretary, COCOM Commander, or Chief Management Officer

    • Removal of local travel restrictions

    • Availability of essential services (e.g., schools, chi ldcare, moving services)

    • Quality control/assurance capability for household goods packing and moving

    • Favorable Health Protection Conditions (below HPCON C)

      • Sufficient Medical Treatment Facility capacity

      • Testing capability and capacity in accordance with the Department's tiered priority framework to include sentinel surveillance and for at-risk healthcare workers

      • The capacity to quarantine and/or isolate individuals returning from high exposure locations

  • Unrestricted travel and normal civilian hiring activities may resume between installations when the change of status is determined for both

  • There are 11 stated exemptions including recruiting and accessions, patients and escorts, deployments, returning to home station from TDY or PME, and more

22 May DoD Memo

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15 June Travel Flowchart

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09 Sep Installation Status

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What is the 2020 Military Special Leave Accrual Memo?​​

The new military special leave accrual memo, dated 16 April 2020, states that active members can accrue up to 120 days of unused leave during the effective period of March 11, 2020 - Sept 30, 2020.  Members can retain the leave through Sept 30, 2023. Select the image below to open the official memo

16 April Special Leave Accrual

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2020 Military Leave Accrual Memo

COVID-19 Military Finance Updates

How is my incentive, Hazardous, and other Special Duty Pay affected?

  • Service Secretaries have been given authority to waive performance requirements so that members can continue to receive pay they would have normally been eligible for.

  • Also applies for National Guard and Reservist.

  • Contact your chain of command to verify if you qualify for a waiver and if you need to take action to obtain one.

  • SGLI & Reservist: Reserve Component members will not lose SGLI, TSGLI, or Family SGLI coverage due to not being able to drill at least 12x’s a year

  • You should not lose BAS if you previously lived off-post but have recently been ordered to move into government quarters. Government provided meals can be received at no charge (Service Secretary Authority can be delegated to Installation Commanders)

 

What is the new Hardship Duty Pay – Restriction of Movement (HDP-ROM)?

  • Purpose: To help cover lodging expenses for troops ordered to self isolate and are not at home or in government-provided quarters

  • Amount: Taxable $100/day for a max of $1,500/month

  • Requires commander and health care provider to order you to quarantine away from existing residence but in the same local area

  • Not applicable for when on official travel or on PCS orders

  • More can be found in Section 7 of the linked Fact Sheet

Am I authorized Family Separation Housing Allowance (FSHA)?

  • Purpose: If dependents are not authorized concurrent travel on PCS orders to the new duty station because of the travel restrictions, member is authorized BAH and FSHA

  • Allowed if the following 3 conditions are met

    1. Government quarters are not available at the new duty station,

    2. The member has obtained private-sector housing, and

    3. The dependent does not reside at or near the new permanent duty station.

  • Amount: BAH/without dependents rate of new duty station

  • More can be found in Section 3 of the following linked fact sheet

Where can I find other military financial emergency relief ?

COVID-19 Education Updates for Military

What is the Student Veteran Coronavirus Act of 2020 ?

  • Addresses education and assistance for students during the covered period: March 1-Dec 21, 2020

  • Authorizes the Dept of Veteran Affairs (VA) to continue paying work study allowances

  • Students using GI Bill benefits can continue to receiving Monthly Housing Allowance (MHA) up to 4 weeks after their school closed due to the virus

  • Time limits have been extended for students not covered under the ‘Forever GI Bill’ (Anyone using benefits before Jan 1, 2013) & for dependent children using transferred GI Bill benefits (Normally end on 26th birthday)

  • Members enrolled in the Vocational Rehabilitation Program can continue to receive MHA up to 2 months after school closure

  • Any student using VA educational benefits will get benefits re-credited if unable to finish a class due to emergency school closure

  • Full Text: https://www.congress.gov/bill/116th-congress/house-bill/6322/text

Where can I find financial assistance to help pay for additional virtual homeschooling expenses?

Each service Aid Society has set up grants and no interest loans specifically for at home virtual learning financial help

Note - If your service relief organization isn't nearby, one of the other service relief organizations can help process your request

Army Emergency Relief:

 

Air Force Aid Society:

  • For a limited time, they are offering a one-time $250 grant to eligible Air Force families with a financial need to help with virtual schooling costs for school supplies of their dependents in grades K through 12

  • Application will be available on 9/1/2020

  • For questions, contact your local Airman & Family Readiness Center, send e-mail to virtual.schooling@afas-hq.org or call 703-972-2650, option #6

  • https://afas.org/virtual-schooling-grant/

 

Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society:

 

Coast Guard Mutual Assistance:

  • $500 At home and virtual learning grant for expenses incurred 01 Aug - 01 Nov 2020.

    • Application with receipt must be submitted by 15 January 2021

  • $500 Child Care Grant

  • https://www.cgmahq.org/covid19.html

 

Where can I find other educational resources for my family?

The MWR Digital Library offers free access to a treasure trove of online resources to keep yourself and the kids engaged, educated, and entertained!

Note - You will need to log into Military OneSource for access

Here are some noteworthy resources>

—For Kids—

  • Teachables

    • Provides access to more than 15,000 teacher-created, vetted printables to support instruction. Download activities for any pre-K to 6th 8th grade subject: math, science, reading comprehension, STEM...

  • Explora Primary

    • Features a database of colorful and fun resources that help children in grades K – 5 learn about animals, music, health, history, people and places, science, math and sports.

  • BookFlix

    • Pairs classic video storybooks with related nonfiction titles to reinforce early reading skills and develop real-world knowledge.

  • FreedomFlix

    • Brings history to life by capturing the dramatic and defining moments in American history through dynamic ebooks with embedded popup feature

 

—For Adults—

  • Ancestry® Library

    • Allows you to unlock the story of your family with billions of U.S. and international records.

  • Universal Class

    • Offers lifelong learning courses in over 30 subject areas, many of which offer continuing education units (CEUs). More than 500 courses are available, and all are designed and led by professional instructors

  • Business Plan Builder

    • Provides help for aspiring entrepreneurs, and individuals interested in planning an optimizing their small businesses or nonprofits

  • Consumer Reports

    • Use this online library to access 1,000+ ratings, reviews, expert buying advice

 

—For All—

  • Mango Languages

    • A digital language learning program for learners of all levels, with courses in more than 70 different foreign languages, 21 English language courses and 44 specialty courses

  • Kanopy

    • Provides access to more than 30,000 award-winning films and documentaries anywhere, anytime with any device

  • Stingray Qello Concerts

    • Offer the world's largest collection of full-length concerts and music documentaries streamed on-demand to just about any digital device

COVID-19 Health & Other Resources for Military Families

This national pandemic affects as all differently. The following are some additional resources to seek out mental and physical health for yourself, family, or a friend.

 

Military/Veteran Crisis Line 

  • Call: 1-800-273-8255 (24/7 & Confidential)

  • Text: 838255

  • Overseas:

    • In Europe: Call 00800 1273 8255 or DSN 118

    • In Korea: Call 0808 555 118 or DSN 118

    • In Afghanistan: Call 00 1 800 273 8255 or DSN 111​

Military OneSource

  • 1-800-342-9647

  • Offers a wide range of individual consultations, coaching, and non-medical counseling

Military & Family Support Center (M&FSC) & Military and Family Life Counselors (MFLC)

  • AKA Airman & Family Readiness, Fleet & Family or Army Community Services

  • Financial, Deployment, Relocation, Transition, Employment, Voting, EFMP support

  • To locate your installations office go to: https://installations.militaryonesource.mil/

Exceptional Family Member Program (EFMP)

  • The family support branch of EFMP provides coordination of support services on and off base through family needs assessments, providing resources that enhance quality of life. Select the image below to download the EFMP Family Support Reference Guide

 

Home Protection Updates

How does the August 2020 SCRA Update help protect me?

  • Public Law No: 116-158 (08/14/2020)

  • The Servicemember Civil Relief Act (SCRA) was updated to extend protections to service families affected by the DoD stop-movement order

  • Allows servicemembers to break a housing or vehicle lease without a 30 day notice due to a DoD stop-movement order

  • Retroactive to March 1st 2020

    • Families can request reimbursement for (extra) rental payments accrued during the stop-move order

    • Property managers can’t recoup those unpaid amounts

  • Servicemembers should consult their installation legal team if they feel they need help with the process

 

Good Army article to learn more here: https://www.army.mil/article/238437/update_to_law_helps_soldiers_with_auto_home_lease_payments

 

Read the law here:

https://www.congress.gov/116/plaws/publ158/PLAW-116publ158.pdf

 

Note the official language extends protection for premises or vehicles for professional or business use as well.

Leases of Premises:

“(Orders) which prevents the servicemember or servicemember’s dependents from occupying the lease for a residential, professional, business, agricultural, or similar purpose.’’

Leases of Vehicles :

“(Orders)which prevents the servicemember, or the servicemember’s dependents, from using the vehicle for personal or business transportation.”

How does the 2020 CARES Act Protect my VA Home Loan?

  • VA Home Loan borrowers can contact their lender and request a forbearance due to a financial hardship as a result from the COVID pandemic (No documentation is needed. Just a call)

  • The initial forbearance period is 6 months with the possibility of an additional 6 months

  • Forbearance period = Mortgage lender agrees to accept reduced or no payments, will not issue any late or penalty fees, and will not report negatively to credit bureaus   against borrower

  • Interest is still accrued on loan

  • Missed payments are not due in a lump sum at end of forbearance. Borrower will create payment plan or modify existing loan with lender

  • NEVER pay a separate company to request your forbearance.

  • Protection 2 - A foreclosure and eviction moratorium (stop) for 60 days starting March 18, 2020 and ending August 31, 2020

 

If you are in danger of becoming homeless during the COVID-19 national emergency, please reach out to https://www.va.gov/HOMELESS/NationalCallCenter.asp, or call (877) 424-3838, to receive immediate assistance from VA.

 

To read more from the official VA site: https://benefits.va.gov/homeloans/cares-act-frequently-asked-questions.asp#FAQ1

 

We also recommend the following podcast: https://laceylangford.com/podcast/overcoming-homebuying-challenges-with-chris-birk/

We would love your feedback or further insight on this topic!

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