An expansion that allows military families and troops to access Military OneSource services for a full year after transitioning out of the military is now live, officials announced last week.
That expansion includes access to free non-medical counseling and career coaching, two benefits whose real world price tags can add up fast.
Previously, the benefit was only available for those on active duty and up to 180 days after transition. But military families and some Pentagon officials in the last administration, including Rosemary Williams, who had led the military family policy office, wanted an expansion.
They noted that the real challenges of transition don't even start until the end of that 180 day window. Until that point families are often caught up with what you might call a transition honeymoon phase as they move to a new location and settle into new jobs and schools.
And the services aren't cheap when paid out of pocket. Counseling, for example, can easily cost $100 a session without insurance coverage. That makes the 12 free sessions of non-medical counseling OneSource gives a high value benefit for those who want to use it. Expanding the OneSource service to a year would give families access to those counseling sessions when they were actually needed.
It's also relatively cheap to the DoD. Pentagon officials estimated the expansion would cost a mere $500,000 a year, pennies compared to some defense spending.
The Pentagon announced plans to expand it early this year. But it wasn't until the expansion was also ordered in the 2019 National Defense Authorization Act, signed by President Donald Trump Aug. 20, that officials made it live.
"Each person is unique, and so is each military-to-civilian transition," A.T. Johnston, deputy assistant secretary of defense for military community and family policy, said in a release. "We want all of Military OneSource's resources to be there when someone needs them -- whether it is a day, a week or many months after their transition to civilian life."
To use Military OneSource military families and troops can call 800-342-9647 or go to www.militaryonesource.mil.