The Department of Defense has issued a 60 day travel ban in response to the expanding coronavirus outbreak. The ban blocks all military travel in or out of Italy, South Korea, Iran and China, where the virus originated.
But even if you don’t have Permanent Change of Station (PCS) orders to one of those countries, your upcoming move could be impacted.
Picture this scenario: You're a division officer for a Navy Cryptological unit somewhere on the east coast and you've finally gotten orders to Hawaii. As you prepare to leave, your replacement is scheduled to PCS in from South Korea. Guess who isn't going to Hawaii anytime soon?
If you're planning on PCSing this year, depending on your billet, you could be placed in an Operations Hold (OPHOLD) at almost any location worldwide.
So what do you do?
First, don’t panic. You likely have your finances in shape for your PCS, because you follow the money advice here on Military.com. If you have made some purchases, leased housing or made other major financial changes, be aware of your Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) rights and use every one of them to your advantage.
Although the most recent guidance issued by U.S. Transportation Command doesn’t address additional help if you’ve already sold your home or ended your lease, officials are expected to handle these needs on a case-by-base basis. You might be placed into temporary housing, get a Temporary Lodging Allowance, or be moved into any available housing. This obviously depends on what is available at your duty station, but you may also be placed into “inadequate housing,” housing which is designed for a smaller family size or a lower rank member. You should check with your chain of command for more information about your options and available reimbursement.
If you had been planning a move for awhile you probably have made arrangements at work and are on cruise control by now. You've been in that job for a few years so you know what to do with whatever either side of the chain of command throws at you.
If you get placed on OPHOLD that isn't going to change. If anything, the added time may end up being pretty sweet, because everyone in your shop knows what to do and can run it by themselves. Your CO probably knows your situation and will cut you some slack, they didn't get to be that rank without a few OPHOLDS themselves.
Your family, while looking forward to the move, will have a few more months of hanging out with their old friends at your current duty station. While the kids may be staying home and using your computer to go to school, they will be in a familiar place with the family together and that isn't a bad thing.
So, if you go into work tomorrow and you hear the word “OPHOLD” or “involuntary extension,” don't worry and focus on making the best of it.
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