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Tell Lawmakers How This PCS Program Would Help You

One lawmaker’s staff has asked for our help hearing from you. They want to know how a new proposal that would help qualified military families pay for a split move would have assisted you in the past if it had been around.

Here's the deal:

If you’ve ever PCSed in two shifts (or wanted to) so that the process would be easier on schooling or your job, this measure, the Military Family Stability Act, would've provided your service member with temporary solo housing while you either moved ahead or stayed behind for up to six months. It also would provide two different pack-outs – one for you and a smaller one for your service member.

Staffers on the Hill who are working on this proposal tell us that the Defense Department is pushing back on the idea. They say that too many people would use the program and that it would be too expensive to run.

But lawmakers think the DoD is wrong – they say because not every family qualifies and not every qualifying family would use the program every time they move, it would not be as expensive as everyone fears.

Lawmakers want to collect examples of military families – maybe you -- who this would have helped. Read this quick Q&A about the proposal below and leave your story in the comments.

What would the Military Family Stability Act do?

The proposal would help qualifying families move to a new duty up to six months before or after their service member by giving the service member temporary lodging (likely in on base bachelor quarters or an off-base extended stay hotel), allowing them to split their household goods move and giving the family a with-dependents BAH based on where they are actually living – not the place the service member is currently assigned.

So who would qualify?

The bill looks to help five categories of families – EFMP families, those taking care of a family member with a chronic or long-term illness, those with an employed spouse or one enrolled in a degree program and families with school-aged children. There would also be a way for commanders to make an exception to policy to allow those who don’t fit into one of those categories to still use the program should the need arise.

I’m not sure how this would help me – we already move when we want, not when the military tells us to.

Of course you do. But you don’t get your costs covered the way this proposal would allow. All that extra cash you spend making sure your service member has a place to live would be saved, for example, since the military would provide him with housing.

Our guess is this bill would likely be mostly used by parents who don’t want to move their kids mid-school term. But it could also help you if you meet any of the other categories.

Why doesn't DoD want this?

The Defense Department doesn’t comment on the record to reporters about pending legislation, but congressional officials told us the DoD is pushing back for two reasons.

First, they say it is not needed, officials said. They point to the current programs – like spouse job assistance – to show that are already helping with these issues. But those programs don’t help with the kinks relocation can throw in your plans that could very well go away if you only had a few months’ buffer to make the timing better.

They also say it would be too expensive. Congressional officials say they believe the DoD is assuming that every single person who can will use the program, forcing the DoD to shell out twice the housing allowance. But that may not be true. Officials estimate that families will only use this once or twice over their career, not every move, and that the numbers will be even lower because not every family is eligible.

 

And now lawmakers want your help. Tell us in the comments -- if this proposal had been available in the past (or present) how would it have helped you?

 

 

Image courtesy of www.sunsetremovalsnewcastle.com.au under the Creative Commons license.

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