Town Hall Questions

Below, we have worked to answer all questions posed by participants during our COVID-19 Military Support Initiative Town Hall Series. Your questions may also be answered by The National Military Family Association on their webpage, What Military Families Need to Know.

Understanding the Impact of COVID-19 on Our Military

What financial resources are available for families uncertain about a PCS? For example - if a family has already sold their house.

The  National Military Family Association has the most recent guidance from the DoD regarding changes to pay and allowances for families affected by the stop movement order. Please visit their COVID-19 resource page to find that guidance. 

What does the screening/testing process look like for service members and families?

According to TRICARE’s Coronavirus FAQ: You only have to get tested if you show symptoms of COVID-19.  Your healthcare provider will make that decision based on your exposure risk, symptoms, and guidance from the Centers for Disease Control. There is a screening process to determine who should get tested.

If you have a civilian provider, TRICARE will cover the costs of the test if your provider determines it’s medically appropriate and the request meets the screening criteria.

The National Military Family Association has additional resources surrounding this question. That information can be found at: 

DoD recently announced reduced or changed functions at base hospitals or clinics. Do you see any potential for military hospitals and clinics to be stood up to do testing or treatment of infected individuals in defense communities?

We have seen several installations stand up additional screening and testing facilities to accommodate the defense community. Military groups have also been sent to New York and Washington to assist with building testing and treatment centers. 

The National Military Family Association has additional resources surrounding this question. That information can be found at: 

Is there a reason why military families would be sent off base instead of being seen at an on-base clinic?

The National Military Family Association has fielded questions around this topic and has collected answers and resources on their website. For more information, please visit: 

How is the issue of active-duty members continuing to work and potentially exposing family members being addressed?

The National Military Family Association has fielded questions around this topic and has collected answers and resources on their website. For more information, please visit: 

It has been reported that there are zero cases among military or dependants in Italy. What did they do to keep military families safe? Was enough testing done in that community?

While there is currently a case in Italy, the command teams there and in other OCONUS locations are being commended for their efforts to keep the community safe. Those efforts are being recognized by the DoD community and used as models for guidance here in the U.S. 

Is enough being done to be proactive in preventing the spread or do we as a community need to shift to a more aggressive approach?

An overview of the current efforts to prevent the spread of the virus can be found on the National Military Family Association website. The DoD continues to follow presidential guidance on the best approach to mitigate the spread of the virus and has urged all installations to be as proactive and aggressive as possible.

More information can be found here:

With the VA canceling appointments, will telehealth appointments be available to make sure vets are getting care they need and to make sure caregivers do not become overwhelmed with any anxiety?

Per The Elizabeth Dole Foundation: The VA will be providing more telehealth appointments during this time. Veterans and their caregivers will need to use MyHealtheVet to contact their providers and make appointments. There may be some delays in response due to the increase in requests. The Elizabeth Dole Foundation, the VA, and Philips will be hosting a call on April 16th to discuss everything related to telehealth during COVID. Please let us know if you have any other questions we can help you with.

Are there supports in place for single parents, dual military, dual working families with children who must be off from school?

As part of the COVID-19 Military Support Initiative, we have posted several resources surrounding childcare and homeschooling. Please visit our Resources tab for more information. We also answered many questions specifically related to childcare and K-12 education. Please visit that section of our Frequently Asked Questions page.

For more resources, the National Military Family Association has also listed several resources and support surrounding single parents, dual military and dual working families. Please visit the website below for more information: 

 

What role might the Centers for Child Development play in educating and aiding military families?

CDCs are remaining open for Mission Essential families. More information can be found by visiting the following website:

How is all of this going to affect the upcoming Permanent Change of Stations for military families?

Military families are currently on a stop movement through 11 May. We will continue to update families if that guidance changes. If your family is financially affected by a stop movement order, you can find available resources here: 

What is the best source for information pertinent to military families and military personnel?

Our goal with the COVID-19 Military Support Initiative is to be a central hub for accurate and up to date information pertinent to the military community. We will be posting updated resources, policies, and data weekly. Please continue to consult this website for up to date information. 

Please also visit the National Military Family Association’s website for resources specifically related to families. 

What is the best way to mitigate information that is incorrect or misleading on bases, where news can spread quite rapidly in neighborhoods or units?

Information hygiene is just as important as physical hygiene! Always double check any rumors against the Department of Defense guidance being distributed. If it has not been mandated by the DOD then it may just be a rumor. Follow your installations town hall meetings to get information directly from the Commanding General or other leadership.

How can we help our veterans since they are the most vulnerable?

Per MOAA: First and foremost for those who know veterans in your communities—work, church, other network circles, reach out to them via a call, text, video, email, letter, or whatever means to see how they are doing. Find ways to share the most current information available through VA.  Below are a number of links VA shared yesterday—the FAQs is a good source to help veterans navigate some of the issues they may be facing. MOAA website provides additional resources and information that may be helpful:  

Individuals may also consider writing letters or sending cards to VA facilities, medical centers, community/nursing centers, regional benefits or state veterans affairs offices thanking veterans, employees, medical staff, and frontline workers to thank them for their service and let them know you are thinking of them and appreciate them.

 Veterans are asked to call their VA medical center before going to an appointment if they are experiencing any symptoms such as shortness of breath, wheezing, sneezing, coughing, or fever.  Calling first helps us protect Veterans, medical staff, and other patients. Number of visitors will also be strictly limited to one per patient.

VA thanks you for your continued service to our nation’s Veterans.

Why are many installations and commands not following federal guidelines for social distancing and continuing to hold large-scale formations and briefings?

There has been a great deal of additional DoD guidance and Force Health Protection supplemental guidance that emphasizes social distancing the maximum extent possible while ensuring critical missions continue to be supported.  Recent guidance has also changed requiring military personnel wear cloth face coverings when on DoD property when recommended social distancing cannot be maintained during the conduct of mission critical activities.   

Will the military provide local, base communication format (phone/email/daily updates) to answer questions/concerns of military families?

It is one of the primary responsibilities of military installation commanders to maintain open lines of communication with the military families within their command.  Each commander retains the purview to design and conduct those programs according to the local needs of their installation. This has not changed during COVID-19, but I believe everyone would agree that these current times make it all the more important that commanders communicate effectively with everyone in their respective communities.

Are unit commanders being given clearcut guidance to respond to their troops and families and guide them through this crisis?

As Secretary Esper has said, DoD places trust upon our commanders and our senior enlisted personnel to make the right calls relevant to their situation to ensure that we protect our people while at the same time maintaining mission readiness.  DoD and Military Service leaders are providing guidance to those commanders — that guidance is being made publicly available at and other DoD, and Military Service websites.

What are we doing about COVID-19 in regards to mental health and how it may be affecting current Service Members and Veterans?

The Military and Family Life Counseling (MFLC) Program under the Military Community Support Programs (MCSP) will provide telehealth services for non-medical counseling where face-to-face support is restricted due to COVID-19. MFLCs and Child and Youth Behavioral MFLCs (CYB-MFLCs) is working towards implementing temporary telehealth services in the coming week, including telephonic and video non-medical counseling. Face-to-face non-medical counseling will continue in areas where Federal, state, and local COVID-19 restrictions allow. Family video non-medical counseling for minors 6 to 12 years of age requires parents to attend each session. Individual video non-medical counseling sessions for minors age 13 to 17 requires parents to give consent at the start of each video session.  

The Military Health System has established www.tricare.mil/coronavirus as the primary information resource for MHS beneficiaries.

Military OneSource is hosting daily Facebook Live events at 12pm EDT Monday-Friday to highlight resources available to military families. Watch them here. More information is found on the Military OneSource’s COVID-19 resources page.

Other free mental health support services: https://www.mentalhealth.gov/get-help/veterans

You can also visit PsychArmor’s COVID-19 hub featuring mental health resources. https://psychhub.com/covid-19/

What, if any, support can the Department of Defense do to provide some relief for the capacity issues at community hospitals?

Per the DOD: “The Department of Defense is ready, willing and able to support civilian authorities to the greatest extent possible with the direction of the president,” 

However, the DoD has only about 2% to 3% of the number of hospital beds that the private sector has. The department runs only 36 hospitals in the United States, Friedrichs said, many of which are ill-suited for caring for large numbers of contagious patients.

“Many of them are configured to support, as you might imagine, our immediate military needs,” Friedrichs said. “They take care of the active duty population and their families and some retirees. Some large facilities such as the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland, have much more diverse services,” he added. “

“Our doctors are, unsurprisingly, trained highly in traumatic injuries and [for] dealing with traumatic injuries,” he said. “We have a much younger population that we’re dealing with treating in our hospitals. And so all of these kind of factor into what is that capability we have for a potential outbreak that generally has been more devastating to older persons who require a different type of attention than we normally do.”

Even military tent hospitals that can be set up ad-hoc to respond to an emergency are designed for trauma care, not contagious diseases, Friedrichs said.

“Our fixed facilities are designed to the force that we have,” he continued. “There are not thousand-bed medical centers all over the United States. They are, for the most part, small community hospitals. Our deployable hospitals range in size and range in capabilities that are very much focused and designed to take care of those in combat.”

While both the National Guard and the Reserve components have medical doctors that can be called out to provide support, if needed, both Hoffman and Friedrichs noted that medical personnel in the Guard and Reserve are often also medical personnel in their private-sector jobs.

“If you mobilize the Guard and Reserve medical personnel from their civilian jobs, they’re no longer in their civilian jobs, and that directly impacts the community where they worked, and that’s the trade-off that — whether it’s a natural disaster, or the coronavirus or anything else — that’s part of the trade-off that we look at as we offer options going forward,” Friedrichs said.

 There are 50,790 DoD personnel supporting relief efforts including Some 30,000 National Guard service members are offering frontline care to community-based testing, distributing personal protective equipment, medical supplies, food and water, all part of the concerted national response to serve and support hard-hit communities, McCaffery said. 

https://www.politico.com/news/2020/03/16/military-coronavirus-defense-132801

What are some specific resources available to military spouses and their families to help combat isolationism?

Below are a variety of resources surrounding mental health, tips for preventing feelings of isolation, and virtual activities for children and adults.

Here are some tips and information about avoiding feelings of isolation:

The Military and Family Life Counseling (MFLC) Program under the Military Community Support Programs (MCSP) will provide telehealth services for non-medical counseling where face-to-face support is restricted due to COVID-19. MFLCs and Child and Youth Behavioral MFLCs (CYB-MFLCs) is working towards implementing temporary telehealth services in the coming week, including telephonic and video non-medical counseling. Face-to-face non-medical counseling will continue in areas where Federal, state, and local COVID-19 restrictions allow. Family video non-medical counseling for minors 6 to 12 years of age requires parents to attend each session. Individual video non-medical counseling sessions for minors age 13 to 17 requires parents to give consent at the start of each video session.  

The Military Health System has established www.tricare.mil/coronavirus as the primary information resource for MHS beneficiaries.

Military OneSource is hosting daily Facebook Live events at 12pm EDT Monday-Friday to highlight resources available to military families. Watch them here. More information is found on the Military OneSource’s COVID-19 resources page. 

Other free mental health support services: https://www.mentalhealth.gov/get-help/veterans 

Virtual Activities – Kids and Adults:

How are military families dealing with this added source of anxiety and stress?

Below are a variety of resources and information regarding mental health and stress/anxiety during this difficult time.

The Military and Family Life Counseling (MFLC) Program under the Military Community Support Programs (MCSP) will provide telehealth services for non-medical counseling where face-to-face support is restricted due to COVID-19. MFLCs and Child and Youth Behavioral MFLCs (CYB-MFLCs) is working towards implementing temporary telehealth services in the coming week, including telephonic and video non-medical counseling. Face-to-face non-medical counseling will continue in areas where Federal, state, and local COVID-19 restrictions allow. Family video non-medical counseling for minors 6 to 12 years of age requires parents to attend each session. Individual video non-medical counseling sessions for minors age 13 to 17 requires parents to give consent at the start of each video session.  

The Military Health System has established www.tricare.mil/coronavirus as the primary information resource for MHS beneficiaries.

Military OneSource is hosting daily Facebook Live events at 12pm EDT Monday-Friday to highlight resources available to military families. Watch them here. More information is found on the Military OneSource’s COVID-19 resources page.

Other free mental health support services: https://www.mentalhealth.gov/get-help/veterans

What role will military hospitals and health personnel play?

According to the DOD: 50,790 DoD personnel supporting relief efforts including Some 30,000 National Guard service members are offering frontline care to community-based testing, distributing personal protective equipment, medical supplies, food and water, all part of the concerted national response to serve and support hard-hit communities, McCaffery said. 

“We are putting all the best brains in our military medical research facilities, working in partnership with other federal agencies on future treatments and vaccines,” McCaffery said. “Our research experts are focusing in on diagnostic testing, … [using] robust laboratory networks to perform testing, and pursuing additional types of diagnostic capabilities to include serologic testing to assess the patients’ blood for the presence of COVID-19 antibodies.”

DOD also has invested $75 million to research three vaccine candidates, McCaffery said, DOD is working hard to ensure its beneficiaries have continued access to the care they need by ramping up virtual health capabilities, establishing drive-up testing sites and putting the right protection measures in place to minimize exposure risk to patients and health care workers, McCaffery emphasized. The department has expanded its nurse advice telephone line to include over-the-phone screening tools to meet the surge witnessed just weeks ago, he said, noting that it now handles up to 9,000 calls a day from people who need medical consultation.

 

Managing the Impact of School Closures for Military Families

How are school districts handling new enrollments? How are districts going to handle promotion of grade level? Is this at the Federal, State or District level?

Generally, these issues can vary from school district to school district. We encourage you to reach out to your local school district. However, generally speaking, school districts are being asked to provide virtual learning to allow for the progression of the school year despite school buildings being physically closed.

What resources are available for those that have to telework and have kids at home? All ages*

We know that this is an incredibly challenging time for families who are juggling remote work and child care simultaneously. We’ve compiled some of the most helpful articles with “best practices” and resources for entertaining your kids while you work:

What is the difference between homeschooling and digital learning?

While there is some overlap in homeschooling and online schooling, here are some distinct differences:

  • Homeschooling: Parents buy or create educational curricula and serve as teachers.
  • Online Schooling: Parents (or designated adults) use a curriculum that has been made by an established school, and support the child’s learning alongside hired teachers.
  • Homeschooling: Socialization opportunities need to be created by the parent or designated adult.
  • Online Schooling: Frequently, schools incorporate socialization into their curriculum.
  • Homeschooling: Various states require assessment for homeschooled students but not all of them do.
  • Online Schooling: Public schools administer the standardized tests for their state.

For more information, please see this article:

What's being done to help English learners who have extra challenges with any kind of virtual education?

There have been resources made available online in order to provide learning materials aimed at students who are learning English as a second language. Several states have shared these resources on their department of education websites. Here are some free online resources geared towards students learning English as a second language:

What type of supports are available for families that don’t have access to WIFI or electronic decides for online instruction?

Thankfully, several companies in the private sector are stepping up to help families that cannot afford internet access. Here are a few of them:

  • Charter Communications announced on March 13, 2020 that for 60 days the company will offer free Spectrum broadband and Wi-Fi access to homes with K-12 and/or college students who do not already have a subscription. Installation fees will also be waived for these households. Enroll by calling 844-488-8395. Charter will also continue Spectrum Internet Assist, a program offering low-cost broadband internet of 30 Mbps for low-income households without school-aged children.
  • Comcast, which owns Xfinity, will offer 60 days free and increased speeds for new families who join the Internet Essentials program, an internet access program for low income families that is normally $9.95 a month.
  • AT&T announced on Friday it would not cancel service and would waive late fees for any wireless, home phone, broadband residential or small business customer experiencing hardships because of the coronavirus pandemic and can’t pay their bills. Qualifying low income households can apply for $10 a month internet access through the Access from AT&T program. Fixed Wireless Internet and Wireline customers can use unlimited internet data. AT&T will also keep public Wi-Fi hotspots open.

What should we do if the school/teacher has not assigned any work or communicated any plans?

Please reach out directly to your local school district and the school’s administration. If you don’t receive an answer from the school district or administration, try contacting your state’s board of education.

For mission essential members and families, is schooling going to be recommended or required to be online?

Most schools have already moved to an online format in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19, and it is expected that more will do so in the coming days. For mission essential personnel, the Department of Defense has provided the following information:

Q4: What options are available for DoD civilian employees, whether in the United States or at an overseas location, if schools and child care facilities that their children attend are closed but the employees are healthy and their workplaces are open?

A4: Employees in these circumstances are not eligible for weather and safety leave. DoD Components may authorize telework participants to telework when there are young children or other persons requiring care and supervision in the case of an emergency. Employees under these circumstances must still account for work and non-work hours during his or her tour of duty and take appropriate leave (paid or unpaid) to account for time spent away from normal work-related duties (e.g., to care for a child or dependent). Employees who are not telework program participants may use annual leave or other paid time off, such as accrued compensatory time or credit hours. If authorized by DoD Component policy, supervisors may authorize alternative work schedules (compressed or flexible work schedules) that provide for flexible work days and/or work hours.

Additionally, here are other options for free or subsidized child care:

Communities, cities, and municipalities are taking steps to provide free child care for essential employees during the COVID-19 crisis. Please reach out to your local and/or city government to see if there are additional services in your area.

Will the impact of school closures/virtual work be greater for military families? What information is available on the possibility of opening schools only to essential workers such as military families or sending those children to childcare facilities and rec centers?

It is very possible that the impact of school closures could be harder on military families. However, the military is taking steps to mitigate this process. Service members should communicate with their commands about child care needs and whether telework is a viable option. Many essential personnel have priority at CDCs now, so contact your CDC to find out about care options whether you fall into a higher priority.

Additionally, here are options for free or subsidized child care:

Communities, cities, and municipalities are taking steps to provide free child care for essential employees during the COVID-19 crisis. Please reach out to your local and/or city government to see if there are additional services in your area.

How will these education gaps be filled due to frequent PCS moves? How will this work transfer interstate?

The DOD has issued a stop order for domestic and international travel.

While schools are closed, school districts are transitioning to coursework in an online format that will prevent the stoppage of schoolwork through the end of the year. Because many schools are in the same situation, this should allow the coursework being done remotely to transfer to another school.

How are school districts handling new enrollments? How are districts going to handle promotion of grade level? Is this at the Federal, State or District level?

Generally, these issues can vary from school district to school district. We encourage you to reach out to your local school district. However, generally speaking, school districts are being asked to provide virtual learning to allow for the progression of the school year despite school buildings being physically closed.

What resources are available for EFMP/IEP students? Will any virtual learning opportunities be available for special needs students?

Under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), schools are required to support students with special needs as they would when schools are open and functioning normally. Here are some online resources for special education students:

What policies and/or resources are in place to ensure students with disabilities don’t fall behind? What options are available for students who lack internet connectivity or devices for "virtual learning"?

Under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), schools are required to support students with special needs as they would when schools are open and functioning normally. Here are some online resources for special education students:

Thankfully, several companies in the private sector are stepping up to help families that cannot afford internet access. Here are a few of them:

  • Charter Communications announced on March 13, 2020 that for 60 days the company will offer free Spectrum broadband and Wi-Fi access to homes with K-12 and/or college students who do not already have a subscription. Installation fees will also be waived for these households. Enroll by calling 844-488-8395. Charter will also continue Spectrum Internet Assist, a program offering low-cost broadband internet of 30 Mbps for low-income households without school-aged children.
  • Comcast, which owns Xfinity, will offer 60 days free and increased speeds for new families who join the Internet Essentials program, an internet access program for low income families that is normally $9.95 a month.
  • AT&T announced on Friday it would not cancel service and would waive late fees for any wireless, home phone, broadband residential or small business customer experiencing hardships because of the coronavirus pandemic and can’t pay their bills. Qualifying low income households can apply for $10 a month internet access through the Access from AT&T program. Fixed Wireless Internet and Wireline customers can use unlimited internet data. AT&T will also keep public Wi-Fi hotspots open.

Will the College Board be looking at adding additional summer test dates for the SAT, especially for our current high school Juniors?

Per the college board’s website:

“In response to the rapidly evolving situation around the coronavirus (COVID-19), the College Board is canceling the May 2, 2020 SAT and SAT Subject Test administration. Makeup exams for the March 14 administration (scheduled for March 28) are also canceled.

Students who already registered for May, whose March test centers were closed, or who do not receive March scores because of any irregularities will receive refunds. In the coming days, College Board will share additional information and details directly with registered students and test centers.

College Board will provide future additional SAT testing opportunities for students as soon as possible in place of canceled administrations. We’ll be as flexible as possible to give students the best chance to show their skills and stay on the path to college.

We have not yet canceled the June 6, 2020 SAT and SAT Subject Test administration and will continue to assess its status, with the health and safety of students and educators as our top priority. We are also exploring the possibility of adding an international SAT administration later this school year.

The March 25 SAT School Day administration is postponed. The College Board is working with local partners, and we’ll soon share further information about weekday school-based SAT, PSAT 10, and PSAT 8/9 administrations scheduled for this spring.”

For more information, please go to the College Board website: https://www.collegeboard.org/

How will students with accommodations receive those accommodations for AP testing?

There have been a variety of changes made to AP testing, including some being offered online or from home. However, it is our understanding that students with accommodations are still entitled to those accommodations regardless of the format changes. Please reach out to your test administrator or school district.

Supporting Early Child Care and Education During the COVID-19 Crisis

What are the implications for the essential worker workforce with centers and schools closed? What are your thoughts on states that are opening schools only for essential workers children?

Service members should communicate with their commands about child care needs and whether telework is a viable option. Many essential personnel have priority at CDCs now, so contact your CDC to find out about care options whether you fall into a higher priority.

In case you’re an essential worker, here are options for free or subsidized child care:

Communities, cities, and municipalities are taking steps to provide free child care for essential employees during the COVID-19 crisis. Please reach out to your local and/or city government to see if there are additional services in your area.

What support is available for small business owners or contracted workers who may not receive unemployment benefits?

Here’s information on obtaining government resource programs for workers:

The recently passed CARES Act which is the COVID-19 stimulus bill includes a variety of support to small businesses and individual workers, including those considered gig workers. This included the expanding on who could receive unemployment benefits so see if you have now become eligible. The details from the bill can be found here:

Information on how gig workers can get unemployment:

Additionally, individual states like MI have begun to take action and expanded unemployment to include a wider group of workers. Make sure to see if your state or municipality has expanded services during COVID-19.

Per the National Military Family Association:

If your family needs immediate assistance, the American Red Cross accepts applications on its website 24/7.

Army Emergency Relief has made provisions to be able to process claims remotely during the COVID-19 crisis. Learn more here.

Coast Guard Mutual Assistance can process claims remotely and has outlined what extra assistance it can provide during this time. That support includes funding for child care or to supplement for a military spouse’s lost income.

For more information, contact your branch’s relief society. If not listed above: Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society, Air Force Aid Society. Relief societies may be the fastest way to get help since some are able to provide direct-deposit funds.Operation Homefront also offers financial assistance to families facing critical needs. You can apply online here.

Are the military included in the first responders for child care?

Generally, active duty military personnel are considered and granted the same benefits as other people considered as other types of first responders from businesses and services offering support to first responders but that could differ on a case-to-case basis. 

How will COVID19 distancing requirements affect military family subsidies?

Per the National Military Family Association:

For those families who utilize child care fee assistance programs, the Child Care Aware of America (CCAoA) office has limited services and processing times may be delayed until they return to full staff. If you have pulled your children from child care due to center closure or coronavirus concerns, CCAoA will provide updates to families after they receive guidance from the services on how to move forward. When submitting documents for the fee assistance program, CCAoA requests that you state the reason why the child was not in care, the monthly child care cost, and the dates reflected on the attendance form. For example: “Child was not in care from 3/1/2020-3/19/2020 due to Coronavirus concerns. Cost of care for the month of March is $750.”

Should you have additional questions, contact CCAoA at 1-800-424-2246 or email at militaryinfo@childcareaware.org. In your email include your branch, family ID, and which program you are applying for. You can continue to check your status online at www.childcareaware.org by logging into your account.

Also, the DoD has released new guidance for pay and allowances affected by COVID-19 and the stop movement order.

  • New Hardship Duty Pay: A newly-authorized pay, Hardship Duty Pay – Restriction of Movement (HDP-ROM), is taxable pay that compensates service members who are ordered by their commander, in conjunction with health care providers, to self-monitor in isolation somewhere other than their home or a government-funded lodging facility.

HDP-ROM is only payable in situations in which the member remains assigned to the same permanent duty station at a rate of $100 per day, not to exceed $1,500 per month.

  • Family Separation Allowance: Military families who are in the midst of PCS and are now separated due to the stop movement order should receive Family Separation Allowance – Restricted (FSA-R) if the directed separation lasts more than 30 days.

Service members who are on TDY and receiving Family Separation Allowance – Temporary (FSA-T) and are now separated from their family due to the stop movement order will continue to receive FSA-T as long as the separation is 30 days or more.

  • Per Diem Allowances While Isolated or Awaiting Travel: The Joint Travel Regulations (JTR) have been updated to provide guidance on per diem affected by COVID-19. Service members who have been ordered to self-isolate and restrict movement while on TDY may receive extended orders from their command to authorize continued TDY travel and transportation allowances until able to return to the service member’s permanent duty station.

Military families in the midst of a PCS whose travel has been halted after checking out of their detaching command will likely be eligible for per diem to cover lodging, meals, and incidental expenses while awaiting transportation. Families are encouraged to maintain communication with both detaching and gaining commands.

  • Family Separation Housing: Military families who are not authorized on PCS orders to travel concurrently with the service member due to travel restrictions will be authorized Family Separation Housing Allowance (FSH) and Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH) at the new duty station if ALL of the following conditions are met:
    • Government quarters are not available at the new duty station,
    • The member has obtained private-sector housing, and
    • The dependent(s) does not reside at or near the new permanent duty station.
  • Basic Allowance for Subsistence for Enlisted Members: Service members who are self-monitoring and receive food (room service) from a government dining facility should not lose Basic Allowance for Subsistence (BAS), but they will likely have to pay for those meals under the dining rate rules unless granted an exception by his/her commander. 

BAS II (twice the monthly rate) may be authorized for service members ordered to self-monitor in lodging that cannot store food, which in turn requires the service member to get his/her meals from a commercial source. However, BAS II may only be authorized in these circumstances if it is uniformly authorized for all enlisted members in similar situations or in the same geographic area.

Any recommendations for families with special needs? What resources are available?

Under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), schools are required to support students with special needs as they would when schools are open and functioning normally. 

Additionally, Tricare just announced that it will be covering  Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) teletherapy.

 Here are some online resources for special education students:

Are these resources also available to Coast Guard families?

Please see the Coast Guard’s website for more information on how they are addressing COVID-19: https://www.uscg.mil/Coronavirus/FAQ/

What are your suggestions to military families who need child care but Child Development Centers are closed?

Service members should communicate with their commands about child care needs and whether telework is a viable option. Many essential personnel have priority at CDCs now, so contact your CDC to find out about care options whether you fall into a higher priority.

Here are options for free or subsidized child care:

Communities, cities, and municipalities are taking steps to provide free child care for essential employees during the COVID-19 crisis. Please reach out to your local and/or city government to see if there are additional services in your area.

What should we expect if we were on the waitlist for CDC child care?

Service members should communicate with their commands about child care needs and whether telework is a viable option. Many essential personnel have priority at CDCs now, so contact your CDC to find out about care options whether you fall into a higher priority.

Additionally, here are options for free or subsidized child care:

Communities, cities, and municipalities are taking steps to provide free child care for essential employees during the COVID-19 crisis. Please reach out to your local and/or city government to see if there are additional services in your area.

If families begin to PCS again, what will childcare look like for them?

The DOD has issued a stop order for domestic and international travel. 

However, service members should communicate with their commands about child care needs and whether telework is a viable option. Many essential personnel have priority at CDCs now, so contact your CDC to find out about care options whether you fall into a higher priority.

Here are options for free or subsidized child care:

Communities, cities, and municipalities are taking steps to provide free child care for essential employees during the COVID-19 crisis. Please reach out to your local and/or city government to see if there are additional services in your area.

Understanding the $2 Trillion Cares Act: What’s in it for the Military and What Happens Next?

If/when help is available, would will people be expected to pay it back once every settles?

According to The College Investor, this stimulus check is a refundable tax credit for 2020, being paid to you early. You will have to claim in on your 2020 taxes, but there is nothing to pay back unless: 

  • You received an incorrect amount based on household or filing (such as you’re now divorced and should have received just a single check, etc.)
  • We are currently uncertain what happens if your earnings in 2020 exceed the AGI limits

https://thecollegeinvestor.com/33324/coronavirus-stimulus-checks/

Is there any chance of furlough of DoD civilians?

To date, we haven’t heard about any considerations of furloughing at the DOD.

How should a business or individual/family access the assistance available from the stimulus?

According to Business Insider: You do not have to sign up to receive a stimulus check. The process is automatic for most Americans who qualify. 

To get a check, you must have a Social Security number (nonresident aliens, people without a Social Security number, and adult dependents are not eligible). If you filed taxes in 2018 or 2019, that tax return must reflect an adjusted gross income below $99,000 for single filers, $136,500 for heads of household, and $198,000 for married filers.

Note that if you’ve moved, and you haven’t provided the IRS with direct-deposit information, you should make sure the agency has the correct address on file to receive a paper check in the mail. If you don’t file taxes but do get Social Security payments, the government will use that information for your payment. If you don’t file taxes and don’t get Social Security payments, the IRS has announced it will set up a “simple web portal” in order for you to submit your information.

Can the stimulus check be denied for those who don’t feel they need it?

According to ABC, the U.S. Dept. of the Treasury has not responded to questions around whether you can deny your check. However, the check will do more good if you put it back into your community, supporting local businesses and your local economy or donating it to charity or towards people who have been mostly adversely impacted by COVID-19.

Will there be any money given to DHS in addition to DOD?

The Department of Homeland Security: $45 billion for a disaster relief fund to reimburse state and local governments for medical response, community services, other safety measures. Extends federal deadline for people getting driver’s licenses with enhanced security features, called REAL ID, from Oct. 1, 2020, to Sept. 30, 2021.

Are the stimulus checks tax free?

Yes, the money is not taxable.

Is there any private student loan relief attached to the CARES ACT? When should we expect stop loss to go into effect?

According to Forbes, Under the CARES Act, there’s 0% interest on our federal student loans from now through September 30, 2020, but not for private student loans.

“For private student loans, depending on your lender, you can pause your private student loan payments, but interest will accrue on your student loan balance. Some lenders are allowing you to pause your private student loans for as long as three to 12 months (and potentially longer).”

Is there a timeframe for when the stimulus checks will be received by the public?

“If we  have your [bank] information you’ll get it within two weeks,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a White House press briefing, covered by the Washington Post. “Social Security, you’ll get it very quickly after that. If we don’t have your information you’ll have a simple web portal, we’ll upload it. If we don’t have that, we’ll send you checks in the mail.”

For taxpayers who can use direct deposit, the payment should be deposited mid-April. As Business Insider’s Bryan Pietsch writes: “In early May, the IRS will send out paper checks to those without direct deposit, and it could take around 20 weeks to issue all of the checks, the report said. Those with lower incomes will reportedly be prioritized, and those on Social Security will receive their payments as they would their Social Security checks.”

If an AD spouse is a full time student, how does this affect the aid checks? Does the spouse have to be employed?

Per Business Insider, as long as your spouse is not claimed as a dependent on your tax returns, they will get a stimulus check of $1,200.

Does the cares act offer unemployment for spouses of AD who are now out of work?

According to CNBC: It depends on the circumstances but generally yes. At a minimum, newly eligible workers will receive half the average unemployment benefit in their state but it can vary state to state. 

In addition, under the CARES Act, unemployed workers will receive an additional $600 per week for dates of unemployment from March 27, the day the CARES Act was signed, until July 31. After that, individuals who are still unemployed will continue to receive their state-administered benefit for the remainder of their 39 weeks.

The CARES Act has also expanded the pool of workers who are eligible for unemployment benefits including those who are self-employed, independent contractors, and freelancers.

The unemployed do get stimulus checks also as long as they’re not listed as dependents.

See if you qualify and for more information here:

What relief is available for families whose PCS was disrupted and will not have rent/mortgage in two locations?

The  bipartisan-supported letter started by Rep. Debra Haaland (D-N.M.), the group urges Defense Secretary Mark Esper to support military families forced to take on monetary costs because they cannot move to their next permanent changes of station (PCS).

The letter asks DoD to issue “guidance and resources needed to ensure care and support to every military member and family adversely affected by this order.”

We will continue to track policy changes surrounding this issue. 

How can we help military families experiencing food insecurity? Is there somewhere we can donate?

Food pantries operate on or near every military installation across the country, and Armed Services YMCA runs many. Find your local ASYMCA branch . Feeding America also has food banks across the country.

The Military Family Advisory Network, our partners in better understanding food insecurity in military families so we can advocate on your behalf, has compiled a list of resources that might help you.

Managing the Financial Impact of COVID-19 for Military Families

Would each aid society provide information on the lifetime number of requests a service member can submit?

There is no limit to the number of requests a service member can make to Army Emergency Relief (AER); additionally, AER supports Soldiers of all Ranks.  If it’s a valid need, AER will find a way to say yes. 99% of all requests for assistance are approved. “Soldiers Helping Soldiers,” it’s why we exist.

In regards to the Air Force Aid Society (AFAS), what kind of emergency assistance is available? Is it paid back? How can you apply?

The baseline of Emergency Assistance is financial.  There are generally two categories, no-interest loans and grants.  No-interest loans are further segmented into “Falcon” loans or “Standard” loans/assists.  The Falcon loan is up to $1,000 and intended as a quick assist to take care of an immediate problem (and reduce any inclination to use a payday lender).  “Standard” no-interest loans are shaped by the nature of the emergency and may be supplemented by a grant when the repayment itself becomes so large it’s not fixing but adding to the problem.  Airmen can apply in person or on-line when they need help.  We also have reciprocal agreements with our colleagues on the panel and the American Red Cross. Our Education and Community Support programs are given as grants (although there is a provision for parents of students to take out a $1000 no-interest loan to cover costs that can’t be paid with grant funds).  Every year we will have a few entering students receive our $4000, need-based, Arnold Grant, then compete and win a $5000 Arnold Merit Scholarship.  If their parents decide to take the $1000 no-interest loan, they will start their freshman year with $10,000!

Does AF Aid provide assistance to members of the National Guard not on active duty?

The short answer is yes.  Most know that we, like the other Relief agencies, service Guardsmen on active duty orders (Title 10orders).  More recently Air Force Aid has been working with the Air Guard to understand if there are Guardsmen not on Title 10 orders, but totally dedicated to the Air Force mission every day.  It took us close to a year, but on 1 Jan, 2020 we started providing Emergency Assistance support to Guardsmen on Title 32, USC 502(f) Full Time Active Guard Reserve (AGR) Orders.

Are these services for active duty only?

Army Emergency Relief Eligibility requirements:

  • Soldiers on Active Duty (including AGR) and their eligible dependents
  • Army Reserve and National Guard Soldiers activated on Title 10 orders for more than 30 days and their eligible dependents
  • Exceptions to policy: AER Director approved the following COVID-19 assistance: non-Title 10 ARNG and USAR Soldiers are eligible to request assistance on a case-by-case basis when they are experiencing extreme or unusual financial hardship due to a canceled deployment or the current DoD travel ban.
    • Soldiers retired for longevity, medical, or upon reaching the age of 60 (reserve component) and their eligible dependents
  • Surviving spouses who have not remarried and children of Soldiers who died on active duty or died after reaching retirement eligibility

Are all societies including Reserve and Guard not on Title 10?

Currently Army Emergency Relief (AER) policy: The AER Director approved the following exception to policy for non-Title 10 ARNG and USAR Soldiers – they are eligible to request assistance on a case-by-case basis when they are experiencing extreme or unusual financial hardship due to a canceled deployment or the current DoD travel ban.

Are there plans to open the Army Emergency Relief (AER) up to guard members NOT currently on orders and NOT in line for deployment?

AER is exploring options to address the challenges non-title 10 Reserve Component Soldiers and their families are experiencing during these unprecedented times. We are working with the Army Staff and the USAR and ARNG leadership to determine the unique needs of these Soldiers and will announce any changes to our policy ASAP.

Do you know if any of the Aid Societies help Veterans or is it only Active Duty and Retirees? Do you know of any support services for Veterans?

The PenFed Foundation provides emergency financial assistance to disabled, post 9/11 combat veterans. Disabled American Veterans and Wounded Warrior Project are two other examples of national-level veteran service organizations. There is a list of resources and partner organizations on the PenFed Foundation website (www.penfedfoundation.org).

Is there any support to service members renting a house they own for which the renter is affected by reduced hours of over 50% due to COVID-19?

Federal, State, and local governments have implemented a number of programs intended to protect renters from being evicted for not paying rent during this crisis. For example, if the home has a federally-backed mortgage, the CARES Act prohibits landlords from evicting tenants for 120 days. It does not relieve tenants from the obligation to pay rent; it simply protects them against eviction during the period of this crisis. Military landlords and tenants should seek military or private legal assistance to answer questions like these.

Yes, Army Emergency Relief (AER) can help with *mortgage, rent, initial deposit, and temporary housing, and basic living expenses, etc.  We offer more than 30 categories of assistance – See:   www.armyemergencyrelief.org/assistance for additional information (*AER offers a 1-time mortgage assistance to help homeowners in this type situation).

Are these resources available to veterans nationwide or do they have to reside in a specific area?

Any Soldier eligible for Army Emergency Relief (AER) can visit their nearest AER officer. Offices are located at over 70 Army installations around the world. Soldiers can also visit other Service military installations (Navy, Marine, Airforce and Coast Guard) and request AER assistance from their military aid society. **Local installation operations (office open or closed) may be modified due to COVID-19 social distancing requirements, please see www.armyemergencyrelief.org/covid19 for additional information. If you’re not located within 50 miles of a military installation, the American Red Cross is authorized to provide financial assistance on behalf of AER. Call the American Red Cross at 1-877-272-7337 then select the option for financial assistance.

As many military spouses are becoming unemployed are you making sure eligible ones learn about MyCAA?

Army Emergency Relief (AER) is collaborating with many military support organizations and media outlets to inform the force on our capabilities, to include MyCAA.

AER’s media lead is COL(Ret) Shawn Woodbridge;  shawn.woodbridge@aerhq.org

Are any scholarships being used to help spouses get training that might help get them work from home careers?

Army Emergency Relief (AER) does not specify what programs the student enrolls in; if the program is offered by an accredited college or university dependents (Spouses and Children) are eligible to apply for our Scholarship Program. Certificate programs are also acceptable. For additional information on AER’s spouse education assistance program see: www.armyemergencyrelief.org/scholarships

When will the States have the unemployment benefits available for self-employed?

The Pandemic Unemployment Assistance provisions in the CARES Act expand State unemployment insurance coverage to include self-employed individuals. It also adds $600 per week to any amounts States typically pay.

Where and how can furloughed spouses request financial assistance?

Furloughed spouses should seek financial assistance through their State unemployment assistance offices.

See Army Emergency Relief’s (AER’s) COVID19 portal to apply for assistance. Loss of spouse pay is the most requested form of assistance, www.armyemergencyrelief.org/covid19

What policy recommendations are being suggested for Congressional consideration in future COVID-19 relief packages?

It is difficult to speculate about what might eventually be in a future COVID-19 relief package, but some of the possibilities are discussed at the following: https://www.foxnews.com/politics/what-could-phase-4-coronavirus-bill-include

What is the anticipated effect of financial stress on security clearances?

An article posted by Task & Purpose in August 2018 (https://taskandpurpose.com/military-benefits/security-clearances-background-check-change)  discusses the DoD’s stance on financial issues impacting security clearances.

In addition to that, it is also known that extenuating circumstances may be considered when evaluating new or current security clearances. Explanations like loss of job or health issues may be considered. COVID-19 related health and financial causes may be included. It is important to document the issues and causes. You should also document the actions you are taking, or have taken, to overcome the issues. If your security clearance is being reviewed or considered for downgrade be prepared to submit your documentation of extenuating circumstances and utilize the appeals process if necessary. This is not legal advice. Seek assistance from qualified professionals if your security clearance is at risk.

How is the Army/DoD handling retirements? Will there possibly be a stop loss?

Recently multiple media outlets have picked up a story about DoD considerations of a Stop-Loss due to COVID-19:

Since the articles do not confirm any official policy it is recommended that service members seek information directly from their chain of command.

Any policy pushes to help military families who may have lost their jobs due to COVID-19?

The provisions of the CARES Act apply to military and non-military families equally. For example, military families who own and operate small businesses impacted by COVID-19 are eligible to apply for financial assistance under the Paycheck Protection Plan. Similarly, military spouses who lose their jobs or are furloughed can apply for the enhanced unemployment compensation available under the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance provisions of the CARES Act.

Loss of pay is the most requested form of assistance, please see Army Emergency Relief’s (AER’s) COVID19 portal to apply for help. www.armyemergencyrelief.org/covid19 **This category of assistance currently applies to those who meet our normal eligibility requirements see: www.armyemergencyrelief.org/assistanceeligibility

Some businesses/industries are experiencing furloughs, do you have any perspective on this? What will the impact be to military coverage, support and readiness?

The Paycheck Protection Program is a loan designed to provide a direct incentive for small businesses to keep their workers on the payroll. SBA will forgive loans if all employees are kept on the payroll for eight weeks and the money is used for payroll, rent, mortgage interest, or utilities. Eligible businesses can apply through any existing SBA 7(a) lender or through any federally insured depository institution, federally insured credit union, and Farm Credit System institution that is participating. Other regulated lenders will be available to make these loans once they are approved and enrolled in the program. You should consult with your local lender as to whether it is participating in the program.

Lenders may begin processing loan applications as soon as April 3, 2020. The Paycheck Protection Program will be available through June 30, 2020.

For more information: https://www.sba.gov/funding-programs/loans/coronavirus-relief-options/paycheck-protection-program-ppp

With the percentage of the population who have already lost their jobs this week, how do we expect that to impact military spouses who often have trouble finding new jobs with each PCS?

The answer to this question depends greatly on the extent to which the American economy will return to “normal” following this public health crisis. The CARES Act will provide interim relief to military spouses who lost their jobs in the form of enhanced unemployment compensation. When the economy returns to normal, we hope jobs will also return and that military spouses will continue to qualify for them.

Loss of pay is the most requested form of assistance, please see Army Emergency Relief’s (AER’s) COVID19 portal to apply for help. www.armyemergencyrelief.org/covid19 **This category of assistance currently applies to those who meet our normal eligibility requirements see: www.armyemergencyrelief.org/assistanceeligibility

How does a ceiling on income ($85K) disproportionately impact a military family's eligibility for the stimulus checks being considered by the White House?

The CARES Act provides that single taxpayers whose Adjusted Gross Income is less than $75,000 will receive $1,200, to be phased out for AGI over $75,000 up to $99,000. No payments are available to single taxpayers whose AGI exceeds $99,000. Married taxpayers whose AGI is less than $150,000 will receive $2,400, to be phased out for AGI over $150,000 up to $198,000. No payments are available to married taxpayers whose AGI exceeds $198,000. All military families whose incomes are within these ranges will receive stimulus checks. Additionally, Americans eligible for the Child Tax Credit will also receive $500 per dependent.

Is there any advice or is there anything being done to help families transitioning out of the military and now worried about finding a job/no longer collecting a paycheck?

Families retiring from the military will receive retirement benefits from the Federal Government. Families separating from the military will face the same employment gaps experienced by many other Americans during this crisis. Fortunately for all families, whether retiring or separating, the CARES Act’s enhanced unemployment compensation provisions will help bridge the gap.

Loss of pay is the most requested form of assistance, please see AER’s COVID19 portal to apply for help. www.armyemergencyrelief.org/covid19 **This category of assistance currently applies to those who meet our normal eligibility requirements see: www.armyemergencyrelief.org/assistanceeligibility

The Impact of COVID-19 on Service Member Transition and Separation

What are we doing about COVID-19 in regards to mental health and how it may be affecting current Service Members and Veterans?

The Military and Family Life Counseling (MFLC) Program under the Military Community Support Programs (MCSP) will provide telehealth services for non-medical counseling where face-to-face support is restricted due to COVID-19. MFLCs and Child and Youth Behavioral MFLCs (CYB-MFLCs) are working towards implementing temporary telehealth services in the coming week, including telephonic and video non-medical counseling. Face-to-face non-medical counseling will continue in areas where Federal, state, and local COVID-19 restrictions allow. Family video non-medical counseling for minors 6 to 12 years of age requires parents to attend each session. Individual video non-medical counseling sessions for minors age 13 to 17 requires parents to give consent at the start of each video session.
The Military Health System has established www.tricare.mil/coronavirus as the primary information resource for MHS beneficiaries.
Military OneSource is hosting daily Facebook Live events at 12pm EDT Monday-Friday to highlight resources available to military families. Watch them here.
More information is found on the Military OneSource’s COVID-19 resources page.
Other free mental health support services: https://www.mentalhealth.gov/get-help/veterans
You can also visit PsychArmor’s COVID-19 hub featuring mental health resources.

Could you provide the status of the USN credentialing process?

The Department of Navy Credentialing Opportunities On-Line (DON COOL) remains operational and will continue to provide credentialing support.

Due to Navy COOL teleworking, the best way to contact us is by email: navycool@navy.mil.

NEW!! Navy COOL has suspended the 6-months remaining in-Service requirement for credential funding. You may receive credential funding support up to 60 days prior to separation. All exam requirements and reporting of results to Navy COOL must be completed not later than 60-days prior to end of Service obligation.

Important – Prior to submitting a voucher request for exam funding, please contact the testing agency/center to ensure they will be able to provide the exam. Once you have confirmed the ability to test, submit your voucher request for processing and funding.

For more information, please visit: https://www.cool.navy.mil/usn/

You mentioned Skillbridge, could you expand on that program?

The DoD SkillBridge program is an opportunity for Service members to gain valuable civilian work experience through specific industry training, apprenticeships, or internships during the last 180 days of service. SkillBridge connects Service members with industry partners in real-world job experiences.

For more information, please visit: https://dodskillbridge.usalearning.gov/index.htm

Please clarify what is available for mil spouses from SkillsBridge?

Military Spouses can explore SkillBridge Partners that are available on DoD SkillBridge.  Many of our partners are now offering similar opportunities for Spouses as they are for Service members.  Many times Spouses can take advantage of these opportunities prior to the Service member’s separation or transition.

Steps:

Explore SkillBridge Locations and Partners: https://dodskillbridge.usalearning.gov/locations.htm

Reach out to the SkillBridge Provider POC provided and start with your local or regional MYCAA Career Coach.

MYCAA Link:

https://www.militaryonesource.mil/education-employment/for-spouses

Can we expect the pandemic to impact educational and credentialing benefits?

Educational and Credentialing programs are key  programs that support  Service members and families.  We modified our delivery model in some places, however, for the most part we have not seen any disruption to the DoD programs.  Significant consideration needs to be taken with regard to Academic and Credentialing partners and their availability along with mitigation plans.  Recommended course of action is to reach out to the Service Department Education Office and Credentialing Office.

Are there any other free credentialing programs for transitioning vets other than IVMF?

Yes.  Most of the Service Departments offer complimentary refresher education, certification and licensure courses.  For the most up to date listing of available resources, reach out to the Service Department Credentialing or ESO Offices.

https://www.oreilly.com/online-learning/government.html

  1. Navigate to the Safari Books Online (O’Reilly Learning Safari) DoD Registration page.
  2. Enter your First Name, Last Name, and your .mil email address.
  3. Click “Set Up My Account” and follow the registration process.
  4. Once you have a Safari (O’Reilly) account you can access it directly from work, home, or with a mobile device.

USO Pathfinder: https://www.uso.org/campaign/usopathfinder

Will Skillbridge offer more opportunities for Veterans now with COVID-19 affecting current Service Members?

SkillBridge is a DoD program, however, many of the SkillBridge partners can be contacted by Veterans and explored to see if there are options for post service members utilizing VA benefits and/or employer programs.

Can you complete a Skillbridge through CSPs and other organizations (i.e. HireMilitary) or just choose from one?

Career Skill Programs (CSP) is SkillBridge.  Army CSP, thus is SkillBridge.  All the other Service Departments refer to the Employment Training program as SkillBridge today.  To know if an organization is an approved provider i.e. HireMilitary or any other to include HoH, always refer to the DoD SkillBridge site or Service Department program representative.

For more information, please visit: https://dodskillbridge.usalearning.gov/index.htm

Is Booz Allen Hamilton supporting upcoming corporate fellowships?

Yes!  We have renewed our corporate sponsorship of the program for 2020, and plan to host fellows all year wherever we have appropriate positions for them.  We are currently reviewing resumes and profiles for the current cohort.

What was the 1st recommended group of industry for hiring during this time that was mentioned?

I recommended reviewing industries that had been deemed Mission Essential by the federal government.  The list can be found on the Department of Homeland Security/Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency’s website, here.  NOTE:  This list is being interpreted slightly differently by each governor, so please also search your state’s website for further details.

Does Booz Allen Hamilton offer any Apprenticeship Programs?

We currently do not participate in apprenticeship programs, as a rule.  We are working with Hiring Our Heroes’ corporate fellowship program and the spouse fellowship program.  If you are interested in those please visit https://hiringourheroes.org.

Are the Booz Allen Hamilton programs available if you have or are going to transition soon?

Booz Allen does not have transition programs per se, but we continue to hire for essential positions during the crisis, in many different skill sets and career fields.  We do have helpful resources on our Careers page for transitioning service members and spouses – go to https://Careers.boozallen.com for more details.

Can we expect to see HOH events again in NY?

Yes! While we are uncertain as to when in-person events will resume, we will continue to hold events across the Northeast.

How do those of us that specifically want remote/teleworking positions best seek those positions out?

Create an account with Blue Star Families and you will be connected to the variety of resources Blue Star Families offers including employment opportunities, career training, and coaching. We have a variety of remote positions available through our portal:

Most job descriptions will specify if it is a remote/teleworking position. Pay close attention to such details in a job posting.

How will our transitioning service members get the local information they need if they are transitioning to our local area?

We encourage service members to connect with the local Chamber of Commerce and service organizations with regional offices such as the Hiring Our Heroes Corporate Fellowship Program Managers across the country and USO Pathfinders.

Do other Services offer similar programs to Soldier For Life, and if so, what are they?

Each service executes the transition process based on the unique characteristics of their population, service member lifecycle and post service requirements. Because the Army is the largest service and makes up nearly half of the transitioning population each year, Army senior leaders believed it was valuable to create and sustain a separate Soldier for Life office to help connect and synchronize the efforts of government and non-government organizations to create more opportunities for our Soldier and Families. Other services support this requirement through existing service member and family resource offices and agencies within their formations but do not have a specific office that performs the function of the Army’s Soldier for Life program. The Marine for Life program is the closest functionally to our office, and provides highly effective employment and community connections to transitioning Marines, with regional Marine for Life partners across the United States.

How do programs like Soldier For Life (SFL) benefit the Service in terms of recruitment and retention.

Our vision is that Soldiers and families embrace the totality of their positive Army experience and return to their communities as leaders of character, commitment and service, where they inspire others through their personal example.  Preparing for meaningful employment or higher education is a process that starts well before a Soldier attends TAP.  Being aware of, and taking advantage of, the opportunities the Army provides throughout the Soldier Lifecycle is one way Soldiers can embrace that experience. Soldiers who transition properly and gain an post-service economic advantage from their time in uniform, set an example for others that the Army is a pathway to meaningful employment, not an impediment. The same holds true for higher education. Nearly half of the Soldiers that receive an undergraduate degree, either while in service or with VA education benefits, are the first in their families to go to college. The Army is a pathway to higher education for many, not an “either / or” decision. The same vision holds true for retention. Once Soldiers understand the economic value of continued service, or the value of opportunities they may have access to during additional years of service, they can make an informed decision on whether to stay or to transition.  People join the Army for a lot of reasons but we know those who are influenced by a Veteran are more likely to join. Our goal is to create those Veteran ambassadors that tell the Army story and inspire others.

Can Soldiers who are at their mandatory retirement date (30 years) extend to delay transition?

The short answer is yes. I highly recommend all service members check with their chain of command or servicing human resources section for the latest developments and policy changes.  The Army released guidance early on in the COVID19 process that provided for a number of authorities including the option to extend enlisted ETS dates from 3-11 months, an officer’s ability to withdraw their separation actions, and for all to withdraw voluntary retirement requests/extend retirement dates.  Soldiers may also apply for a deferment or deletion of PCS orders based on hardship.  The issue of extending past an MRD is a bit more challenging. According to HRC, an officer’s request to extend retirement past MRD must include a valid and compelling reason that the Soldier should be retained. The approval authority to extend a Soldier’s service past MRD is much higher than to withdraw an approved retirement date, there are additional entitlements that accrue post-MRD, and other factors to consider.  As with any questions on continued service, extensions, withdrawing of separation actions or stabilization, all Soldiers should discuss with their chain of command and unit S-1 for the most recent policy and processes.

Is there a plan to find another way to complete certification exams while the sites are closed?

Every certifying body for all of the industry certification exams that the O2O program aligns with typically require in-person testing; in response to the COVID-19 situation, contingency plans are now being offered. The certifying bodies themselves have collaborated with their exam administrators (primarily Pearson Vue) to make exceptions to the standard operating procedures and have made the information surrounding those exam-related exceptions available to the public on their websites. The following links are just a few examples of how varying certifying bodies are responding to the COVID-19 situation: Project Management Institute (PMI),* Human Resources Certification Institute (HRCI), ISC², Cisco, and CompTIA. Most of these certifying bodies and Pearson Vue are offering extensions of 180 days on exam eligibility windows for exam vouchers already purchased and are waiving any rescheduling or cancellation fees for those who cannot test at this time. This support will allow the participants whose exam appointments have been impacted by site closures to wait for their nearest site to reopen and to sit for their exam at that time without any additional financial investment.

*Update: Effective April 14, 2020 – the Project Management Institute is now offering the ability for individuals to take their certification exam virtually. Administered on a secure platform using proven exam delivery technology, the online version is exactly the same as the in-person exam…there’s even a live proctor. This format requires individuals to have a computer with a webcam, reliable internet connection, and a quiet space where they can spend a few interrupted hours. (source: PMI.org). The link has been updated in the previous paragraph to reflect this announcement.

Additionally, a number of these certifying bodies are working diligently to begin offering their exams that were typically required to be taken in an in-person, proctored environment to instead be shifted to an at-home, online environment. This shift will allow exam candidates the ability to take their exam as soon as they are ready and would not require that they wait for testing sites to reopen.

If any current O2O participants have questions regarding the status of their exam appointment or previously purchased voucher, please contact your assigned Advisor or IVMFadvising@syr.edu.

If you are honoring the date for the intent to file, will service members still be able to receive Benefits on Delivery even though their claim is past the 90 days submission date due to COVID?

Per the VA Coronavirus FAQs page:

What if I need to turn in paperwork for my claim or appeal?

As of April 3, 2020, we’re providing extensions for any claim or paperwork deadlines.

You can submit your paperwork late to:

  • Perfect a claim
  • Challenge an adverse decision
  • Submit a Notice of Disagreement
  • Submit a Substantive Appeal
  • Respond to a Supplemental Statement of the Case

If you need a claim extension, you can simply submit your extension with any late-filed paperwork. You don’t have to proactively request an extension in advance. We’ll also accept typed or digital signatures instead of wet signatures (meaning signed in ink) on forms. If you have any questions, please call us at 800-827-1000. We’re here Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. ET.

Has the timeline for applying for VA benefits prior to retirement changed? Will the VA still conduct exit medical exams?

Per the VA’s press release from March 31st:

Many in-person services are already available via the phone or online through virtual options like VA Video Connect. VBA has and continues to adjust to ensure the safety and well-being of its clients and staff. The changes include:

Conducting examinations for disability benefits using tele-compensation and pension or “tele-C&P” exams. If an in-person examination is required, Veterans will be notified for scheduling. To see the full list of included services:

Are the VA claims process and/or C&P exams being backlogged due to COVID?

We know that the VA is seeing higher than usual volume for a variety of services and processes as they’ve made more available online because of the restrictions put in place during COVID-19.

For more info, please see the VA Coronavirus FAQs page:

Could you please provide contact information for the Veterans Benefits, Medical Review for the Ft. Belvoir Area?

The VA’s phone number for the Ft. Belvoir Area is 571-231-2408. If you can’t reach someone through that number, try the VA’s toll free number at: 800-827-1000.

I have a Vet that is trying to enroll in school for the GI Bill income. They will be enrolled in virtual class, will the BAH be affected if they were not already enrolled prior to COVID?

If you have specific questions, you can contact the Education Call Center toll-free at 888-442-4551, Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. ET.

I'm 180 days from my RET day and our local rep is expressing that I should put my claim after my RET date. His reasoning is that the local VA office is not open for me to take my medical records. What do you recommend?

The VA is still doing exams to rate potential disabilities, diagnose health conditions, and determine service-connected disabilities. They are doing many exams virtually by phone, videoconference, or online. Thay are  also doing more records reviews using Acceptable Clinical Evidence (ACE). This means they will review your existing medical records instead of requiring an in-person or telehealth exam.

If your claim requires an in-person exam and they  can’t conduct the exam in person: They will  contact you to reschedule the exam for a later date. Please make sure they have your up-to-date mailing address, phone number, and email address.

If you have questions or would like to proactively reschedule your exam, please contact your VA medical center or health facility, or send a secure message to your health care provider through MyHealtheVet as soon as possible.

If you have an in-person exam scheduled with a non-VA provider we’ve contracted with to do your exam: In order to increase our ability to do more claim exams, they have contracted with certain trusted health care providers across the country to conduct exams in non-VA locations.

If you have an exam appointment with a contracted provider, the provider may still conduct the exam while taking added steps to ensure your safety and the safety of the clinical staff. If you feel unsafe going to an in-person exam at this time, we can put your exam on hold until it can be rescheduled. We won’t deny a claim solely for failure to report for an exam at this time. If you have questions or need to request a hold on your exam, please contact the non-VA provider directly.

If you’ve completed your claim exam you can sign in to track the status of your claim online.

I have been told that my mental health C&P exam will not be rescheduled until after July 1st. I've seen emails that there will be virtual exams, how do I get shifted to that program?

Per the VA’s press release from March 31st:

Conducting examinations for disability benefits using tele-compensation and pension or “tele-C&P” exams. If an in-person examination is required, Veterans will be notified for scheduling.

Here’s the VA’s Coronavirus FAQs page:

This includes the question: What should I do if I have an upcoming VA health appointment?

For routine appointments, we recommend using telehealth (phone or video) for your scheduled appointment. You can also cancel and reschedule your appointment for a later date.

If you have a non-urgent elective procedure scheduled, we may contact you to cancel or reschedule for a later date. Note: Urgent and emergent procedures will continue as scheduled.

To change your in-person appointment to a telehealth visit:

Use Secure Messaging through My HealtheVet to send a  message to your provider.

Use the VA appointments tool to request a telehealth appointment online. (Available only for some types of health services.)

Once your provider schedules a telehealth appointment, you’ll receive a VA Video Connect link (or another approved video meeting tool). Learn more about VA Video Connect

What about transitioning services members who haven't started school at this point? How will their BAH benefits be affected?

If you have specific questions, you can contact the Education Call Center toll-free at 888-442-4551, Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. ET

Is the BDD process impacted?

Per the VA Coronavirus FAQs page:

Will my benefit payment be delayed because of COVID-19?

We’re currently processing all benefit payments as normal. Benefit payments include payments for disability, pension, education payments to your school, and more.

How is the VA completing their mandated Veterans Benefits and Services briefs? Who is the contact to enroll in this course?

Effective March 30, VA will discontinue VA benefit briefings and services on military installations for transitioning service members and their families through the interagency Transition Assistance Program (TAP) until further notice. However, VA will provide virtual briefings and individualized counseling for transitioning service members where possible.

What was that VA phone number for intent to file a claim?

Call 800-827-1000. or visit explore.va.gov/intent-to-file

VA’s Coronavirus FAQs: https://www.va.gov/coronavirus-veteran-frequently-asked-questions/

Can you provide more details on Heroes Linked?

Please find more information for Heroes Linked at their website: https://heroeslinked.org/

For clarification: there are two C&P exams being scheduled at this time?

Per the VA’s press release from March 31st:

Conducting examinations for disability benefits using tele-compensation and pension or “tele-C&P” exams. If an in-person examination is required, Veterans will be notified for scheduling.

Here’s the VA’s Coronavirus FAQs page:

What if you have a MRD?

All Services allow transitioning Service members to submit applications to withdraw separations or retirements to their Commander for recommendation and approval by their respective Personnel Center.  Policy concerning Mandatory Retirement Dates (MRD) and other special transition categories are Service dependent.  The answer to a specific Service member’s request depends on individual circumstances and the respective Service’s policy.  The first step is a discussion with your personnel officer or TAP counselor to determine the appropriate application process for your specific transition circumstances.

What out processing can be done virtually? What guidance do you have for soldiers who are meant to transition, but are unable to start out processing due to closures and are now unsure of when they will be on terminal leave?

Service members transition from over 180 locations around the world.  This outbreak is dynamic and manifests differently by location, setting, population and individual. As a result, responses to COVID-19 are and will be flexible, tailored and incremental for each installation.  Transitioning Service members who are in the out-processing window should contact their supporting installation personnel center for out-processing guidance.

What resources are available for veterans now unemployed due to COVID-19?

There are a number of resources being made available to veterans who have lost their jobs as a result of COVID-19. Visit our partner agencies’ websites, such as the Department of Labor (www.dol.gov) and the Department of Veterans Affairs (www.va.gov) to speak with an employment counselor about your options and to identify additional resources.

Will the Stop Movement order keep transitioning service members from taking terminal leave and moving to their desired retirement location?

No. In accordance with the SecDef memo dated 13 Mar 2020,  “Stop Movement for all Domestic Travel for DoD Components in Response to Coronavirus Disease 2019,” separating and retiring  Service members are exempt from Stop Movement Orders.

Is there anything that is replacing the TAP transition in class course?

Across the Military Departments, TAP classes have been moved to a virtual environment. The congressionally mandated requirements for TAP are still being met across the Services through the use of the Army Virtual Platform, Joint Knowledge Online, and other virtual interactions such as one-on-one telephonic support; virtual meetings, Defense Collaboration System (DCS), etc….

Additionally, transitioning Service members will have access to transition resources both pre- and post-separation. If a Service member requires or needs follow on assistance post-transition, a warm handover will occur between the Service and the appropriate partner agency.

As an additional resource, all Military OneSource capabilities are available to veterans for 365 days post transition. Additionally, the Services have specific policies that allow recently separated transitioning service members to utilize TAP services post transition.

For clarification: The extension for service does NOT include statutory retirement?

All Services allow transitioning Service members to submit applications to withdraw separations or retirements to their Commander for recommendation and approval by their respective Personnel Center.  Policy concerning statutory retirement and other special transition categories are Service dependent.  The answer to a specific Service member’s request depends on individual circumstances and the respective Service’s policy.  The first step is a discussion with your personnel officer or TAP counselor to determine the appropriate application process for your specific transition circumstances.

Who maintains JKO in the TAP capacity?

Joint Knowledge Online (JKO) is a Department of Defense platform.  The Military-Civilian Transition Office maintains a contract JKO to host TAP curriculum.  The TAP Interagency partners (Department of Defense, Department of Labor, the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Small Business Administration) each retain individual responsibility for their respective curriculum hosted by JKO.

Does the delay to end-of-service apply to retirements as well?

All Services allow transitioning Service members to submit applications to withdraw separations or retirements to their Commander for recommendation and approval by their respective Personnel Center.  The answer to a specific Service member’s request depends on individual circumstances and the respective Service’s policy.  The first step is a discussion with your personnel officer or TAP counselor to determine the appropriate application process for your specific transition circumstances.

Will the JKO courses be updated with the new curriculum for career readiness standards?

DoD’s Military to Civilian Transition Office is finalizing development of a new online learning management system (LMS).  The new LMS will be available in summer 2020 and will include new curriculum from each TAP Interagency Partner (Defense, Labor, Veterans Affairs, and Small Business Administration).  Currently, there are no plans to further update the JKO hosted TAP curricula prior to the summer 2020 implementation of the new LMS

Working as One Community - How the Military, States, and Local Government are Working Together to Respond to COVID-19

Younger Soldiers and Family Members have asked for more virtual delivery of services through APPS on their phones or devices. Has the Pandemic helped steer the Garrisons to be more virtual friendly services after the crisis is over?

It is too early to give a definite answer to this question. What we can say is that even before the pandemic, the DoD and Services were constantly working to provide online and other tech-enabled delivery of services — Military OneSource, web-enabled services for childcare and moving, and the expansion of telehealth are good examples.  This continuous effort to improve and adapt the delivery of services will continue. As for exactly what services, apps, and virtual friendly services will continue post crisis, at this time we can’t provide definite information.

Have the garrison commanders found that any of the new ways to deliver services they’ve been more or less forced to adopt are actually potential improvements in providing services?

It is too early to give a definite answer to this question. What we can say is that even before the pandemic, the DoD and Services were constantly working to provide online and other tech-enabled delivery of services — Military OneSource, web-enabled services for childcare and moving, and the expansion of telehealth are good examples.  This continuous effort to improve and adapt the delivery of services will continue. As for exactly what services, apps, and virtual friendly services will continue post crisis, at this time we can’t provide definite information.

How are the communities handling internet access for education for those who cannot afford it?

Companies in the private sector are stepping up to help families that cannot afford internet access. Here are a few of them:

  • Charter Communications announced on March 13, 2020 that for 60 days the company will offer free Spectrum broadband and Wi-Fi access to homes with K-12 and/or college students who do not already have a subscription. Installation fees will also be waived for these households. Enroll by calling 844-488-8395. Charter will also continue Spectrum Internet Assist, a program offering low-cost broadband internet of 30 Mbps for low-income households without school-aged children.
  • Comcast, which owns Xfinity, will offer 60 days free and increased speeds for new families who join the Internet Essentials program, an internet access program for low income families that is normally $9.95 a month.

AT&T announced on Friday it would not cancel service and would waive late fees for any wireless, home phone, broadband residential or small business customer experiencing hardships because of the coronavirus pandemic and can’t pay their bills. Qualifying low income households can apply for $10 a month internet access through the Access from AT&T program. Fixed Wireless Internet and Wireline customers can use unlimited internet data. AT&T will also keep public Wi-Fi hotspots open.

Has Fort Meade, Fort Hood and Redstone Arsenal seen an increase in soldiers needing assistance from Army Emergency Relief (or other branch relief societies)? Does the command continue to brief on the Aid Societies as a resource for financial hardship?

Fort Meade: Yes, but not a significant amount. We have seen those affected by the stop movement order applying and we are encouraging that. Anyone in need is able to virtually apply to keep with social distancing efforts. 

Redstone Arsenal: We have not seen growth and that is most likely because of our demographic here. 

Fort Hood: We have not seen a growth, we do have families impacted by the stop movement order, but we have also found that many families and soldiers are spending less with the stay at home order.

Our community was struggling to meet the demands of Veterans under the Mission Act and our local base medical center is on the list to be closed to Veterans and military families. Is there any effort to work with VA and DoD to make sure our local communities are not further disadvantaged?

Per the Department of Defense: 90-day pause for MTF transition activities:  To allow the military Services and the DHA to focus efforts on the COVID-19 response, Deputy Secretary of Defense David Norquist approved a 90-day pause in activities to transition military treatment facilities to the DHA. The decision will be assessed again after 45 days. Service medical organizations are required to extend their Direct Support to DHA for a period beyond Sept. 30, 2020 equal to the total number of pause days.  The decision puts on hold the transitions of the next five Market offices (Tidewater, San Antonio, Colorado Springs, Puget Sound, and Hawaii). The transition implementation will continue as soon as is practical, and will occur as conditions allow over the next 1-5 years.

How can the civilian world best offer help to the military family when businesses start functioning again?

Many businesses recognize the service and sacrifice of military service members but may be unsure how to leverage their philanthropic resources to support our neighbors in uniform and their families. That’s why USAA and Blue Star Families created “Corporate Citizens: Supporting Today’s Military Families.” This easy-to-read guidebook has practical advice to help companies contribute to the strength, well-being, and resiliency of military families. To access the playbook visit: 

How do we tie into a Blue Star Families chapter if one does not exist at our military installation?

If a Blue Star Families chapter doesn’t exist at your installation, you can still join Blue Star Families nationally as a Blue Star Family and receive access to many of our resources. You can join now at bluestarfam.org

We also have a number of chapters that exist because of the efforts of volunteers in that area. If you are interested in volunteering and potentially starting a chapter near you, please visit https://bluestarfam.org/volunteer/

Currently, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we have shifted all chapter events to a virtual  platform. Anyone is welcome to join those events.

Securing Basic Needs During COVID-19: Food & Housing

Does the CARES Act have mortgage and rent protections built into it?

Per the National Military Family Association:

U.S Housing and Urban Development HUD guidance and resources are available to provide immediate housing support during the outbreak. Find current updates and information on their website.

Federal Housing Finance Agency Mortgage Help for Homeowners Impacted by the Coronavirus Special mortgage help is available for homeowners affected by COVID-19. Learn more about mortgage loan assistance.

FINRED Blog: Options for Borrowers Under Federally Backed Mortgage Forbearance Programs You may have questions about the effects of COVID-19 on your mortgage payments. Find information about federally backed mortgage payment relief.

How do we help connect military families with government and community safety net programs available to all Americans? And, how do we reduce the stigma that still exists about seeking help?

Per the National Military Family Association:

Food pantries operate on or near every military installation across the country, and many are run by Armed Services YMCA. If you need help feeding your family, please reach out to your local ASYMCA branch to confirm their pantry’s operating hours. Feeding America also has food banks across the country. You can search for one near you  here.

Many public school districts are still providing two meals to-go per day and some are expanding the free and reduced lunch program to include free meals for all students. You may also be able to pick up meals from the school you live closest to instead of the school you attend. Visit your local school district’s website for updates.

For overseas military children conducting virtual learning in South Korea, Japan, Okinawa, Europe, and Guantanamo Bay, Exchanges have implemented grab-and-go meals for school-aged children. More than 10,000 meals have been served during the pandemic. Please reach out to your local exchange for exact times and pick up locations.

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits (formerly known as food stamps) can help low-income families pay for food. Eligibility is based on your household’s size, income and expenses. To find out more about SNAP, or to apply for the benefit, contact your state office. Find your state’s office online, or call 800-221-5689 to hear the toll-free number for your state’s program.

Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) provides nutritious foods and nutrition education to low-income pregnant women, women who have recently given birth, and infants and children up to age five. Learn more online at the USDA’s WIC website.

The Military Family Advisory Network, our partners in better understanding food insecurity in military families,  has compiled a list of resources that might help you.

PenFed Foundation offers grants to military families seeking financial assistance due to loss of income or increased financial burden as a result of the pandemic. For more information, including eligibility requirements and how to apply, visit the website.

Utility Bills Comcast is offering free internet for low-income households, free Wi-Fi hotspots for all, and eliminating data caps nationwide. Utility companies around the country are suspending service disconnections and waiving late fees for customers struggling to pay their electricity bills, including Consolidated Edison, Georgia Power, Green Mountain Power, NV Energy, Pacific Gas & Electric, and Southern California Edison. Almost half the states in the country have imposed a moratorium on utility terminations.

Municipal water companies across the country, including in Detroit, New Orleans, Phoenix, Salinas, Seattle, St. Louis, and the state of Connecticut, have suspended service shut-offs—some will even reinstate your service if it was previously shut off, though service restoration may take a few days. Many states prohibit utilities from shutting off the water during a state of emergency.

AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon have agreed for at least the next 60 days to not terminate service to any residential or small business customers, waive any late fees that any residential or small business customers incur, and open its Wi-Fi hotspots to any American who needs them.

Call the number on your utility bill to discuss options if you are having difficulty paying or you need service restored.

Banking Bank of America, Chase, Citibank and others are responding to the needs of their customers struggling to make payments by waiving late fees, providing payment relief and offering other assistance. Goldman Sachs announced it will allow Apple credit cardholders who ask for help to skip their March payment, interest-free. American Express (credit cards) and Capital One (credit cards and auto loans) will also allow customers to skip their monthly payments, interest-free. If you have a problem paying your credit card bill or loan payment, call your loan servicer and ask if they will waive your monthly payment temporarily, without a late fee, and interest-free.

When counseling military families on resources available when feeding their family becomes a struggle due to financial hardship do you refer them to the branch relief societies? Army Emergency Relief, Air Force Aid Society, Navy Marine Corps Relief Society and Coast Guard Mutual Assistance?

Per the National Military Family Association:

Yes, we recommend you counsel military families on resources available to them and refer them to the Relief Societies. Below are links to each of them.

Army Emergency Relief: Financial Assistance Army Emergency Relief is ready to serve. Visit for financial assistance information and resources.

Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society The Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society has your back. Learn about its financial assistance and education programs.

Air Force Aid Society The Air Force Aid Society is here to help. Find relevant information on emergency assistance, education support and community programs.

Coast Guard Mutual Assistance The Coast Guard Mutual Assistance is here for you. Discover helpful resources when adverse life events happen.

What is being done to help us who will be forced to pay mortgages on two homes due to not being able to move to our next duty station as planned?

Per the National Military Family Association:

We suggest reaching out to your losing and gaining location commanders to request a waiver to the stop movement order if your family is experiencing personal hardship. Additionally, we encourage you to work with your mortgage lenders to request assistance that they may be able to provide you doing this time. Here are some additional resources:

What resources are available to the military unable to sell their current homes before a move due to the declining market and the loss of jobs?

Per the National Military Family Association:

We suggest maintaining contact with your chain of command if your family is experiencing personal hardship due to the pandemic. Additionally, we encourage you to reach work with your mortgage lenders to request assistance that they may be able to provide you doing this time. Here are some resources:

Programs You may have questions about the effects of COVID-19 on your mortgage payments. Find information about federally backed mortgage payment relief.

If you need further financial assistance in due to loss of income, please contact your branch’s relief society and/or other resources that you may be eligible for listed here:

  • Army Emergency Relief: Financial Assistance Army Emergency Relief is ready to serve. Visit for financial assistance information and resources.
  • Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society The Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society has your back. Learn about its financial assistance and education programs.
  • Air Force Aid Society The Air Force Aid Society is here to help. Find relevant information on emergency assistance, education support and community programs.
  • Coast Guard Mutual Assistance The Coast Guard Mutual Assistance is here for you. Discover helpful resources when adverse life events happen.
  • PenFed Foundation offers grants to military families seeking financial assistance due to loss of income or increased financial burden as a result of the pandemic. For more information, including eligibility requirements and how to apply, visit the website.

Is on post housing secure for families of deployed soldiers?

Per Hunt Military Communities:

If any family is stuck in the Stop Move Order (whether deployed or not) and has provided a move out notice date, we are just extending as needed. In addition, for planned moves onto base that may be delayed, we are working with those dates as well. It may require some shifting of addresses, but we are accommodating the adjusted move dates.

Regarding safety and security; while we can’t guarantee someone’s personal safety, most base housing is behind the gate, and monitored/patrolled by Security Forces.   Where not behind the gate, in most areas that housing is under the jurisdiction of local PD, with Security Forces supplementing that with additional patrols.   I can’t speak for all bases, but those at Hunt.

What are the requirements for veterans to get help in terms of food and financial assistance? Any specific information on the Groton CT area? Where can we get help for this?

Per Operation Homefront: The Critical Financial Assistance program is available. Operation Homefront provides help to military families with rent/mortgage payments, food and utility bills and home/car repairs.  Other than food assistance, we help with overdue bills. There is a process by which we work with applicants to determine: 1) eligibility (DD214) and 2) need.  We are accepting and processing requests for assistance from military families from across the country so are open to all (even those in Groton CT).  We are processing a huge surge in requests but are still able to have a quick turnaround time from receipt of an application to payment of about 5 days.

For more information and to apply, please visit operationhomefront.org

Will commanders be provided this information about the movers that Michael Reese is discussing?

Per American Moving Inc: Our company has only been contacted by one installation commander at Fort Polk.  I believe good communication between the military installations, bases and their service providers would be very beneficial.

DITY Move Survey: A survey is being circulated among families with scheduled PCS moves and those affected by the Stop Movement Order. This survey intends to gauge what incentives would encourage military families to use the DITY move option to help alleviate the transportation concerns and backlog.

How have Yellow Ribbon Program events been impacted by limitations posed by the COVID-19 pandemic?

Yellow Ribbon events have been postponed for returning service members and families.  Deploying service members are being offered remote training.

Will National Guard members currently mobilized for the COVID-19 response efforts be included in Yellow Ribbon Program reintegration events?

At this time, no.  Most of the organizations have rescheduled drills and are allowing Commanders flexibility in determining how and when they are made up. In some cases units are doing virtual drills and online professional development training

Will there be a town hall explaining how mobilization works for Utah guardsmen and families?

Not that we are aware of but will share the idea with leadership.

Regarding the Utah survey, do you track the Guard and Reserves, and report their needs separate from the Active component? Who do you report that to?

We track guard, reserve, veteran and component separately.  The data will be shared with military leaders and will be released to the public as well.

What is the difference in the roles of a FRSA and a FAS?

Both FRSA and FAS fall under family programs and are committed to the resilience, combat readiness and wellbeing of our Soldiers and their families. Both programs are to ensure the Soldiers and their Families are entitled, informed, educated, assisted, and made ready for the unique demands of military life. That being said, both roles play a unique part in the overall goals of Family Programs.

FRSA: works in support of their assigned MSC Commander to assist with the execution of the command’s Family Readiness responsibilities. They provide information, support, and connect resources to unit level commander, rear detachment commanders, unit POCs and FRG Volunteers by providing training, administrative and logistical support. They assist with connecting the Families to the Unit, through the FRG Volunteers.  FRSAs have a proactive role in Family Readiness.

FAC: Provide support of “essential services and referrals” directly to Soldiers and Families, retirees and veterans within each of their Regions. They connect with local community resources to broaden the access of services. Their services include: information and referral, outreach and referral, ID cards and DEERS enrollment, TRICARE, Financial and legal services, Crisis intervention and Referral, Monthly outreach calls to families of the deployed, and employment. Their services are reactive to the needs of Soldiers and Family members.

What is the appetite on Capitol Hill to provide National Guard T32 Activated Soldiers with Transitional Tricare upon coming off of orders?

We are in the early stages of the TAMP issue. The current law/policy allows for interpretation by DoD. We have initially approached DoD with the issue this week, but have not got an answer back yet. WRT the Hill we have several offices that are open to taking this issue up and introducing legislation that would eliminate any interpretation. Personally, I think the right long term answer is to put a legislative fix in place. Regardless, this event has exposed a number of shortcomings that will help drive the conversation.

Supporting the National Guard During the COVID-19 Crisis

Are there safety steps in place for guardsmen and women who will be deploying this year?

If you are talking about our COVID-19 response, absolutely. Service Members are being briefed about the precautionary methods they need to take and then when they arrive on site, they are being provided specific safety instructions by the local health agency personnel on site.

What is the process for those dependents, or family survivors of the fallen that need IDs?

USID cards will remain valid that expired on or after January 1, 2020 through August 31, 2020 if eligibility can be verified by another DoD source, database, or system. This does not apply to children turning age 21 or 23.  Full-time student or secondary dependency will need to be updated if applicable. All stakeholders, i.e., Security Forces, AAFES, and DECA commissaries are notified from DoD ID Card Policy. USID will not be reissued for sole purposes of changing information printed on the card such as rank or last name changes due to marital status. The minimum age for initial USID card issuance is increased from age 10 to 16. Continued use of the Reserve USID card to obtain active duty benefits is authorized for mobilized Reserves (includes ANG) and their eligible dependents. Please see the attached trifold for further instructions.

How can reservists and Guard members continue to perform duty if their units are cancelling unit assemblies and drill weekends?

There are options for use of alternate duty locations for performance of some reserve and National Guard duties in lieu of performing duty at the primary drill location. Where possible, military commanders will issue guidance to continue performing certain Reserve and National Guard duties via alternate duty locations. In situations that do not allow alternate duty locations, commanders will reschedule Inactive Duty Training (IDT) or grant authorized absences for the period in which drilling is limited. Commanders will need to be mindful of the minimum service requirements each member of the Reserve and National Guard needs to perform to achieve a creditable year of service toward retirement, and considerate of the anniversary dates for their members.

Is there a single place where all of the National Guard financial support relief societies are listed? (one-stop-shop where Commanders can direct their personnel in need?)

Since the Guard is in all states and territories, the best way to find local and national financial support is through our Airman and Family Readiness Program Offices at each Air National Guard wing and the local Family Assistance Center for the Army National Guard. Check out the below link to locate your nearest Family Assistance Center:

If a family needs financial counseling support, they should call Military OneSource at 800-342-9647.

How is NGB ensuring that both DOD and the public get an accurate grasp of the virus' actual impact on Guard personnel?

The National Guard is issuing frequent and up to date press releases about the work that the National Guard is doing in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. They are also broadcasting these press releases via social media. You can find them here: www.nationalguard.mil/coronavirus/

How is COVID-19 impacting Guard recruitment and retention thus far?

Per ABC News: As the coronavirus pandemic worsens and the country turns increasingly to the military for help, America’s armed services are struggling to get new recruits as families and communities hunker down. Recruiters scrounging for recruits online are often finding people too consumed with their own financial and health care worries to consider a military commitment right now.

The services, as a result, could fall thousands short of their enlistment goals if the widespread lockdowns drag on, forcing them to pressure current troops to stay on in order to maintain military readiness.

“This is going to have somewhat of a corrosive effect on our ability to have the numbers of people that we really need,” said Maj. Gen. Lenny Richoux, director for personnel for the Joint Chiefs of Staff. “The concern, it is growing.”

He said the military is watching this day-to-day and knows that it could take “a very long time” to rebuild the force.

abcnews.go.com/Health/wireStory/military-recruiting-struggles-enlistment-stations-close-69973543

Is NGAUS supporting increased military leave for federal employees?

The military has taken several steps to ensure military members have enough paid leave during COVID-19 including:

“The Defense Department told commanders to use their own judgment and act liberally in supporting remote telework and granting leave during the coronavirus pandemic.

Commanders also are encouraged to grant leave “liberally” to service members if they or a family member is affected by COVID-19. “Members who exhaust their annual leave may be granted advance leave, with pay and allowances,” the guidance states.

U.S service members can now carry over up to 120 days of unused leave until September 2023 under a new change announced by the Pentagon on Thursday. The move is meant to ensure that troops do not lose any of their accrued leave time due to the travel restrictions imposed amid the ongoing novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, according to an April 16 memo signed by Matthew Donovan, the undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness.”

Psychological Effects of COVID-19 on Military Families

What industries did you find were projected to be the most impacted by the pandemic?

Per the Bob Woodruff Foundation: This information has been taken directly from our paper, which you can access here.

“According to an economic analysis published by Moody’s Analytics in March 2020, the five industries most likely to witness immediate layoffs as a result of COVID-19 are:  1. Mining, oil, and gas extraction (establishments that extract naturally occurring mineral solids); 2. Transportation and warehousing (establishments that transport goods or passengers, warehouse goods, or provide scenic and sightseeing transportation); 3. Employment services (establishments that list employment vacancies or refer/place people in employment); 4. Travel arrangements (establishments that provide travel arrangement and reservation services, excluding travel agencies or tour operators); and 5. Leisure and hospitality (establishments that meet cultural, entertainment, and recreational interests of their patrons, like museums or spectator sports, or that provide customers with lodging, like hotels, or prepared food/beverages for immediate consumption, like restaurants or bars).”

What is the biggest barrier(s) that vets and military families have to accessing your resources/services right now? How are you remedying this?

Accessing resources that are online can be a barrier for Service Members, Veterans, and their Families (SMVF) without technology or without internet capability.  There are several companies that responded to this quickly.   Comcast Internet Essentials extended free service to those without (See Comcast Internet Essentials for Details).  Facebook donated tablets to organizations providing tele-services (American Red Cross Military Veteran Caregiver Network for example) and there are several community initiatives addressing technology barriers during COVID.

Understanding, if no wifi, how do you find resources to obtain wifi?

Local installations & community social services organizations are the best first step.

Has there been an increase in suicidal ideations or suicide during COVID-19?

The best data on suicide ideation and attempts nationally are tracked via  the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (latest report is from 2018). Crisis call centers have reported some increases in call volume according to a recent report. In addition, historically, there is a correlation between high unemployment and suicide.

Who is responsible for advocating for families of veterans?

The VA is involved with Veteran families as it pertains to caregiving and other services available for the Veteran and their family member (ie: counseling at Vet Centers).  There are community-based advocacy organizations across the US helping veterans and veteran families. In San Diego for example, there are multiple agencies such as S.T.E.P., San Diego Veterans Coalition, and San Diego Military Family Collaborative.  Please reach out to these agencies directly or contact your Blue Star Families Chapter Director in your local community for a connection to these or other resources.

Can you give an example of Evidence Based programs (Hope For the Warriors)? Are they family oriented?

Resilient Warrior and Resilient Family are evidence-based programs – see Global Advances in Health & Medicine 2015 Nov; 4 (6): 38-42.  Yes, the Resilient Family program is family oriented. It is customized for adult family members of military and veterans.

I believe I saw on the Blue Star Family Survey Poll that parents would like more support with education services, what would that look like?

The COVID-19 Military Support Initiative also has several resources for education services listed on the resources page of the website found here. PsychArmor also provides an array of courses.

Have all of your organizations seen a rise in request for services?

At Hope for the Warriors, we’ve seen a rise in requests in our virtual services in Sports & Recreation through our 30×30 Challenge-Be Active for 30 minutes-30 days leading to Memorial Day.  Similarly, we’ve seen an increase in requests for Health & Wellness virtual programs such as Resilient Warrior, Resilient Family and Financial Wellness Workshop Series: Coping with Financial Stress During COVID-10 Pandemic.

At PsychArmor, we have seen a rise in requests for education related to self-care, mental health, employment (USERRA course), and community resources.

What information do your panelists have about mental endurance for stress? What recommendations do you have to help get over this downturn and psychological fatigue?

While not an endorsement, I like the resource page provided by Massachusetts General Hospital’s Department of Psychiatry. It’s easy to navigate and covers a range of resources so you can find the solution that works best for you.

Hope for the Warriors recommends leaning on your inherent resilience skill set — revisit your skills training in stress management, keep to healthy lifestyle & behaviors, learn emotion regulation and cognitive reappraisal skills.  If you need a skills-booster session or are interested in learning new skills, enroll in a resiliency course such as Resilient Warrior (for service members and veterans) or Resilient Family (for service members and/or veteran adult family members, spouses, and caregivers).

Hope for the Warriors – Apply For Services to be contacted by an Intake Coordinator to learn more and register for a course.

Are the courses mentioned by Hope for the Warriors free for any Service Members in the US?

Yes, all courses are free for any service member and adult family member of a service member.  Courses are also free for post 9/11 veterans, their families and families of the fallen.  Apply for services at hopeforthewarriors.org – an intake coordinator will contact you within 1-2 business days.  It’s not a traditional intake but a conversation about your needs and your goals.

For those of us who live in civilian communities and do not have the resources to support children, what is available for us (reserve family, 70-90 miles from nearest installation)

There are several organizations that represent military / veteran children offering their services online during COVID.  Many of them are a part of the BSF COVID initiative and are listed on our resource page.

What are your organization's plans to prepare for the influx of mental health issues that are to come?

At PsychArmor, we are evaluating our existing courses available online and creating a curriculum to offer webinars, training, and supportive learning to address the educational tools and resources needed for mental health along this COVID journey.  We are currently working with military medical professionals, National Guard units, and civilian hospitals providing webinars on resilience and coping strategies.

Do any of these organizations support surviving military family members? (widows, children?)

Yes, Hope for the Warriors supports Gold Star Families and Families of the Fallen.  Apply For Services to talk to an Intake Coordinator to learn more.

Is anyone tracking grading policies and the long term effects on GPA?

Schools/institutions are moving quickly to implement changes and adapt to the COVID-19 era. The American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers released this article regarding Guidance on Grading and Transcript Notations from  COVID-19.

PBS also released this article looking at the long term effects on students from shifting to a pass/fail grading method during COVID-19.

What kinds of options and services are available for veterans with substance abuse disorder?

Cohen Veterans Network (CVN) has shifted all of their clinics and services to a virtual platform. Veterans with substance abuse disorder can start by going to CVN’s website to find resources available.

Many military families have a service member who is currently deployed. They are having to deal with both the deployment stress and pandemic stress at the same time. How will this affect them long-term and what are some ways they can cope with this huge amount of stress?

This is a stressful time for so many people as the pandemic has compounded with already stressful components of our lives. Please see our resources below that allow access to mental health resources including therapy options via telehealth and covered by Tricare.

Mental Health:

Addiction:

1-800-662-HELP (4357) – National Helpline

The Military Health System has established www.tricare.mil/coronavirus as the primary information resource for MHS beneficiaries.

Military OneSource is hosting daily Facebook Live events at 12pm EDT Monday-Friday to highlight resources available to military families. Watch them here. More information is found on the Military OneSource’s COVID-19 resources page.

Other Free Mental Health Support Services:

What does a telehealth mental health session look like?

There are a variety of different ways to take advantage of mental health resources via telehealth. One of the options could be to see a therapist through telehealth. This could be done in the exact same way a typical counseling would take place but via a video call instead of in person. Here are some mental health resources:

Mental Health:

Addiction:

1-800-662-HELP (4357) – National Helpline

The Military Health System has established www.tricare.mil/coronavirus as the primary information resource for MHS beneficiaries.

Military OneSource is hosting daily Facebook Live events at 12pm EDT Monday-Friday to highlight resources available to military families. Watch them here. More information is found on the Military OneSource’s COVID-19 resources page.

Other Free Mental Health Support Services:

Hero to zero mentality in the oil and gas industry, hugely staffed by prior military members, is of significant concern. Any tips or thought on how to help those who have now been financially displaced from mass layoffs among the oil and gas industry - especially when these folks are now moved from very well-paying positions to zero income?

There are a variety of resources available for people who have been laid off or have found themselves in a difficult situation financially. Please see the resources below for financial support, unemployment, and career resources:

Financial Support:

If your family needs immediate assistance, the American Red Cross accepts applications on its website 24/7.

Army Emergency Relief has made provisions to be able to process claims remotely during the COVID-19 crisis. Learn more here.

Coast Guard Mutual Assistance can process claims remotely and has outlined what extra assistance it can provide during this time. That support includes funding for child care or to supplement for a military spouse’s lost income.

For more information, contact your branch’s relief society. If not listed above: Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society, Air Force Aid Society. Relief societies may be the fastest way to get help since some are able to provide direct-deposit funds. Operation Homefront also offers financial assistance to families facing critical needs. You can apply online here.

Foundations offering financial assistance for veterans and military families:

Unemployment:

Career Resources:

Create an account with Blue Star Families and you will be connected to the variety of resources Blue Star Families offers including employment opportunities, career training, and coaching:

Self Care and Resiliency for Military Families During COVID-19

I am a Resiliency Training Assistant with the Air National Guard. Are there any Master Resiliency Training courses happening that are open to spouses?

Our resiliency facilitators are all licensed mental health providers. Anyone with a current license can apply to be a facilitator for Red Cross resiliency courses. In terms of who can take the resiliency courses, anyone connected with the military or veterans can take the courses. They are not equivalent to the Master Resiliency Training offered through the military.

With the shortage of supplies like hand sanitizer and toilet paper, both in store and online, are there organizations on installations like Red Cross who are thinking about being able to provide these items to military families?

The American Red Cross maintains a limited inventory of PPE to maintain readiness to respond to disasters across the country and to support collection of about 40% of the nation’s blood supply. Additionally, we are managing numerous offers from partners and corporations to provide goods and services, and directing them to the appropriate agencies for distribution. We have primarily supported military members and their families with items such as hygiene kits during quarantine and continue to discuss needs with our partners in military commands.

Red Cross Virtual Resilience Model - is there a youth or teen version?

We are working now to adapt several of our workshops into virtual offerings. We are reviewing our youth resiliency programs to determine if we can safely deliver them in this environment.