Tips fro Service Members
The first step in a deployment is mobilization, which can be defined as the temporary relocation of military units or individual service members to an area of operations.
Four types of mobilizations can be ordered:
- Selective Mobilization
The President is authorized to activate 200,000 reservists for up to nine months to respond to natural disasters and civilian disturbances that do not threaten national security, such as floods, tropical storms or riots.
Extra steps are needed to mobilize reserve units simply because the mechanisms for deployment are not always immediately in place, as they are with active duty units. These steps include preparation – where Reserve units prepare and train for mobilization during peacetime – receipt of orders – where reserve units receive notice of activation – report to base – where reserve units assemble at their home bases – and, finally, Fort-to-Port and Port-to-Foxhole – where The units and their equipment are moved to depart from their home stations and travel to a Port of Embarkation, where they will make their move to the area where they are needed.
- Presidential Reserve Call-Up (PRC)
The President can mobilize up to 1,000,000 Reservists in response to external threats to national security for up to 24 months.
- Full Mobilization
Congress mobilizes all Reserves units to support a war or national emergency. Mobilization can last for the duration of the emergency plus six months.
- Total Mobilization
Congress activates all armed forces and can draft every able-bodied male between the ages of 17-45. Congress also takes over any national resource needed and can order the private industrial sector to work at full capacity, The industrial sector then manufactures extra equipment and goods to support a war or national emergency.
Financial commitments still need to be kept if you or a loved one is deployed. In order to help make ends meet, the military offers the Family Separation Allowance to eligible service members with dependents, and the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA), previously known as the Soldiers and Sailors Civil Relief Act (SSCRA) for those whom a deployment creates a financial burden.
But whether you are eligible for either program, consider the following tips:
- If you are married, make sure your spouse can access all of your financial accounts, joint or otherwise.
- If you are single, consider giving a trusted friend or family member books of blank, signed checks. Then this person can take care of any of your financial obligations that you may be unable to resolve from your deployment site.
Servicemembers Civil Relief Act
The Servicemembers Civil Relief Act offers service members certain financial protections when they are deployed. Through the act, service members can:
- Break or suspend a vehicle or apartment lease they entered into before deployment.
- Temporarily cap interest rates at 6% on eligible loan, credit card, and other debts while the service members are deployed.
- Under certain circumstances, avoid eviction from leased housing.
- Delay some legal proceedings, such as personal bankruptcy, foreclosure, divorce, paternity or child custody hearings.
Family Separation Allowance
The Family Separation Allowance provides $250 each month to service members with dependents if their deployment meets one of the following conditions:
- The movement of your dependents to the permanent duty station at military expense is not authorized.
- You are on duty and on-board a ship away from its home port for more than 30 continuous days.
- You are continuously on temporary duty away from the permanent duty station for more than 30 days and your dependents do not live at or near the temporary duty station.
Service members with dependents are ineligible for the Family Separation Allowance if:
- Their sole dependent has been in or will be a patient in a medical institution for a year or more.
- Their sole dependent is a spouse they are legally separated from.
- They have dependent children in the legal custody of someone else.
- Their dependent parent does not live with them.
Complete a DD Form 1561 and submit it to your VA regional office. More information can be found at the Army.com Family Separation Allowance webpage.
No one wants to think about the worst, but anything can happen during a deployment. Try to have your legal affairs in order before a deployment occurs, just to be prepared. The following information provides tips on what you can do in order to make sure all of your legal concerns are taken care of; however, keep in mind that this is just a few tips and not actual advice from an attorney. You should seek the guidance of a licensed attorney to prepare for deployment:
- Power of Attorney
Single service members may want to give power of attorney to a trusted loved one should illness or injury occur on deployment that prevents them from acting in their own legal interest.
- Living Will
Service members should draw up a living will so that their wishes can be carried out in case of death or serious injury. The military has legal service offices set up to help service members and their families create living wills and other legal documents. You can find an office near you with the U.S. Armed Forces Legal Assistance (AFLA) Services Locator.
Service members should leave their families or other loved ones with copies of important legal records. Make sure the records are stored in a secure, yet easily accessible location. Common documents to include are medical records, dental records, birth certificates, marriage certificates, divorce papers, discharge papers, passports, visas, military orders, mortgage papers, deeds, lease agreements, car titles and registrations, as well as loan and banking account statements.
Furthermore, loved ones should know their service member’s exact unit—company, battalion and brigade, as well as the names of the first sergeant and company commander. They also should have contact information for the service member's rear detachment.
Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA)
The Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act of 1994 (USERRA) ensures Reservists that their jobs will be waiting for them after they return from an active duty deployment.
Your Rights as a Reservists
- Reservists called to duty for 30 days or less must get their job back immediately. Reservists deployed longer than 30 days must be rehired within a few days after their return from active duty.
- In most cases, reservists must be promptly re-employed in the job that they would have had, and receive any raises or promotions that they would have gotten in their absence.
- Reservists are entitled to 30 days of health insurance from their employers at the normal cost after they leave for deployment. Furthermore, they can keep their employer health insurance for up to 24 months, but they may be responsible for the full cost "including the employer’s share."
- Reservists can go immediately back on their employer’s health care plan when they return to Reserves status. There must be no waiting period or exclusion for pre-existing conditions.
- Reservists are entitled to full pension plan benefits accrued during military service.
- Employers must provide reasonable accommodation for any disabilities incurred during service, unless they can prove undue hardship in providing these accommodations.
- Reservists are protected against discharge without cause after returning to work. The duration of this protection depends on the length of the Reserve member’s absence.
- USERRA prohibits employment discrimination based on past, present, or future military obligations.
- All civilian jobs are covered, unless the employer proves the job was only temporary. All private employers, state governments and branches of the federal government must comply. There are no small-business exceptions.
- Service members or a responsible officer from their military unit must give advance notice to employers before a service member leaves for active duty. To ensure protection, give notice by certified mail.
- Service members can be absent from their civilian jobs for up to five years with the same employer. Some military service does not count toward the five-year limit, such as Reserve and National Guard training, service in time of war or emergency and extended time on active duty.
- Reservists must have received an honorable or general discharge to be covered by USERRA.
- USERRA requires that reservists return to work within a certain amount of time, depending on the length of their tours.
Military ID Cards
When service members are deployed, their dependents need to double-check that all of the information on their military ID cards is accurate.
If the information on the cards is inaccurate, dependents may be denied benefits. They can change their addresses online with the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System (DEERS) Address Update. Other changes will have to be made either in person or by phone, email or snail mail. The contact information is below:
- (800) 527-5602 – Alaska/Hawaii
- (800) 334-4162 – California
- (800) 538-9552 – All Other States
Fax: (831) 655-8317
- DEERS Support Office, ATTN: COA, 400 Gigling Road, Seaside, CA 93955-6771
If You Need a Card
Dependents of service members must renew their cards once every four years. If your card has expired or you don't have a card, use DD Form 1172 to renew or apply for a military ID card. You can find a military ID office online with the RAPIDS Site Locator.
Dependents Eligible for Military ID Cards
To be classified as a dependent, you must meet one of the following requirements:
- Be the lawful spouse of a service member.
- Be a surviving spouse of a late service member and have not remarried.
- Be a parent or parent-in-law of a service member and be dependent on the service member for more than half of your financial support.
- Be a single former spouse of a service member. The marriage must have lasted for at least 20 years, during which the service member served 20 years in the armed forces.
- Unmarried children are eligible if they are:
- Under 21 years of age.
- Over 21 but incapable of self-support. (You will need documentation of this.
- Over 21, but under 23 and attending an approved learning institution as a full-time student. (You will need to show proof of enrollment papers).
For more information on the DEERS system, visit the TRICARE Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System.