Military Benefits for Those Who Are Involuntarily Separated

U.S. Marines rucksack during a U.S. Marine Corps Forces Central Command noncommissioned officers (NCO) field exercise. (U.S. Marine Corps/Caleb Nunez)
U.S. Marines rucksack during a U.S. Marine Corps Forces Central Command noncommissioned officers (NCO) field exercise. (U.S. Marine Corps/Caleb Nunez)

There are many reasons you might find yourself on the path to being involuntarily separated from the military. Drawdowns, budget cuts, a medical board or even a force reshaping that impacts you or your service member's specialty could put you on the road to leaving the military sooner than you expected.

An involuntary separation is different from a medical retirement, which carries its own set of procedures and benefits. Those involuntarily separated with an honorable discharge are also given specific military benefits to make the shift from the military to civilian life a little bit easier.

While every service member moves through the Transition Assistance Program (TAP) before leaving the military, if you're involuntarily separated, you might also receive the following benefits.

Transitional medical and dental health care. Involuntarily separated troops with an honorable discharge may receive transitional medical and dental health care for 180 days, beginning on the first day after the date they are involuntarily separated. That means dependents and the former service member will still be able to use Tricare and, if registered, dental benefits as they did when on active duty. Read about Tricare coverage here.

Military housing. If you live on base, you will be able to continue to do so for 180 days after separation on a space-available basis and subject to the rental charges no longer covered by your Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH). That rental charge can be waived "in any case of hardship," according to the policy, but whether that happens is up to the military service. If overseas, staying in housing for that 180 days is subject to the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) in the country in which you were stationed, so check with your local base.

Overseas relocation help. If you're involuntarily separated while overseas, officials are required by law to help you and your family members look for jobs stateside.

Hiring preference for some jobs. Involuntarily separated troops may be able to take advantage of a hiring preference at on-base jobs offered through morale, welfare and recreation (MWR) and the exchange system.

Extra leave or special TDY. You may be given as much as 30 days of extra leave or 10 days of permissive TDY to help you take care of relocation tasks.

Commissary, MWR and exchange use. If you also qualify for transitional health care, you and your dependents also qualify for commissary, MWR and exchange use for two years after your date of involuntary separation.

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