There may be times when U.S. military members stationed overseas and their families are evacuated from their duty station due to political instability, public safety or natural disasters.
What exactly is the process of evacuation from overseas duty stations and how does it work?
Thankfully, the military has a plan for that -- in fact, a very detailed plan.
Military Evacuation Declaration
Evacuations from overseas military locations are coordinated between the Defense Department and State Department. If you decide to evacuate a location before an official evacuation order is given, you're responsible for all costs incurred. Depending on the situation, both military members and their families may be evacuated, or just dependent family members.
Military Evacuation Location
Where will you be evacuated to? That depends on the situation. If the evacuation is for something of a short duration, such as a weather event, you will most likely be sent to another location in the same country or geographical area. If the evacuation is for political unrest, a public safety issue or widespread illness, you will probably be evacuated back to the U.S.
Depending on the situation, you may be evacuated to what the military calls a "safe haven" or a "designated place." A "safe haven" is a place that dependents are sent to when conditions are expected to be temporary. A "designated location" is a place where a dependent will establish a permanent residence because conditions are expected to remain unsafe at the overseas location. The travel and evacuation allowances differ slightly for each type of location.
Military Evacuation Travel Method
The manner by which the government will get military members and their families out of danger depends on the situation.
If the evacuation is spur of the moment, the government will do its best to get everyone out of harm's way as soon as possible. This may mean flying on a windowless cargo plane, sailing on a Navy ship, or even catching a ride with allies in the area.
If an evacuation isn't an immediate emergency, travel methods will be a bit better. Either way, the government will foot the bill for getting everyone home and out of danger.
Military Evacuation Travel Pay
So, the government will get you to a safe location. What happens then?
Military members are given temporary duty (TDY) or permanent change of station (PCS) orders to go to their evacuation location. This allows them to receive travel pay, up to two months' advance pay and dislocation allowance, it also allows them to perform their military duties at the new location.
Command-sponsored dependents are also authorized travel pay, including per diem; shipment of up to 350 pounds of household goods per person with a family limit of 1,000 pounds; shipment of up to two pets; and an escort for unaccompanied dependents, as needed. Vehicle shipment may be authorized, depending on the situation.
Non-command-sponsored dependents are authorized only government-furnished travel to the evacuation location; they are responsible for all other expenses.
Allowances at Evacuation Location
Housing at the evacuation location will either be provided or reimbursed at actual cost; receipts are required. Per diem for meals is authorized, and members get a $25 daily local travel allowance.
After 30 days, these allowances will be reduced by 40%, but they can continue for up to a total of 180 days; the military can authorize higher amounts if necessary.
If you decide to evacuate to another location rather than the designated evacuation location, you have to pay any extra travel expenses out of pocket.
Overseas Housing Allowance (OHA)
A service member who remains on station while their command-sponsored dependents are evacuated will continue getting the with-dependent housing OHA rate while the family receives evacuation allowances.
Cost of Living Allowance (COLA)
If a service member remains behind at an overseas location while their family is evacuated, the OCONUS COLA will be reduced to the single rate, unless the dependents are evacuated to another OCONUS location.
Family Separation Allowance (FSA)
A member is entitled to FSA if separated from dependents as a result of an ordered evacuation, provided that the requirements for FSA are otherwise met. Payment does not begin until the 31st day of an ordered evacuation.
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