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Reserve Affairs Frequently Asked Questions

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Don't wait for a crisis to prepare for an emergency. Prior to deployment, discuss how to handle situations as they arrive: car trouble, home maintenance, financial matters, family emergencies. Discuss what constitutes an emergency and what funds are available to support possible costs. Collect and keep readily available all of the phone numbers for emergency assistance in your community. You will also need to have available the phone number for the point of contact in the rear detachment as well as the American Red Cross.

Emergencies
If an emergency does occur that requires contacting the service member, you will need to contact the USACE Operation Center at (202) 761-1001. In the event of a death or serious illness of a close family member, you will also need to contact the American Red Cross who will verify the emergency and contact the member's unit. Be prepared to share with the American Red Cross the full name of the family member, relationship, health care provider and/or hospital.

If an emergency occurs with the service member during mobilization or deployment, immediate family members will be notified via the military chain of command, the American Red Cross, or a unit chaplain.

Develop a Support System
Being married to a Reservist often means you are living far away from your family without the social or emotional support they offer. If possible, meet with other family members from the unit prior to and plan to meet throughout the period of family separation. Families will be able to lend emotional support to one another and provide assistance with children and emergencies. Don't wait for a crisis to determine who might be able to help you.

Medical
Reserve Component members ordered to active duty for more than 30 days and their family members who reside within 40 miles of a military treatment facility (MTF) are eligible to enroll in TRICARE Prime. TRICARE Prime has no enrollment fees, annual deductibles, or co-payments for active duty family members who receive care in the TRICARE network. Under this option, enrollees receive most of their care from military providers or from civilian providers who belong to the TRICARE Prime network.

TRICARE Prime is the only one of the TRICARE options that requires pre-enrollment on the part of the family members. Enrollment information can also be found on the TRICARE website. Enrollment has to occur by the 20th of the month in order to be eligible for care on the 1st of the following month. Please review updated policies prior to enrolling.

Dental
Activated Reserve component members and their families are also eligible to enroll in the TRICARE Dental Program. Reserve members who had previously enrolled in the program are automatically removed when mobilized because they receive dental care from military providers while on active duty. Reserve members in the Dental Program pay monthly premiums of $19.08 for one family member or $47.69 for a family enrollment. If the reserve sponsor is called to active duty, the premiums fall to the active-duty rates of $7.63 per month for one family member or $19.08 for multiple family members. Families who had previously declined TRICARE dental coverage but who wish to enroll after their sponsors are mobilized will be able to join at active-duty rates during the first 30 days. Enrollment forms and information are available online.

Basic Pay. All active members receive basic pay. It is the bulk of their pay, and it is based on rank and length of service. Reservists receive one day's basic pay for each training day, just like their Active Duty counterparts.

Basic Allowance for Subsistence (BAS). BAS is a non-taxable allowance for food. Officers receive this allowance regardless of grade. Enlisted members may receive this allowance based on the availability of government mess (dining facility), or if authorized to mess separately when government mess is available. Normally, enlisted members who are living in barracks are required to eat in dining facilities on their bases and therefore would not be entitled to BAS.

Basic Allowance for Quarters (BAQ). BAQ is a non-taxable allowance for housing. The amount of BAQ is determined by rank and by whether or not there are family members. This allowance partially reimburses military personnel for their housing expenses if they live in civilian communities.

Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH). BAH is a non-taxable allowance for housing. BAH is payable to members on active-duty according to length of time on active duty, their pay grade, family status, and geographical location. The allowance is based upon costs of adequate housing for civilians with comparable income levels in the same area.

Clothing Allowance. The yearly clothing allowance enables enlisted members to care for and replace their uniforms. Officers receive an initial allowance to purchase military clothing but do not receive a replacement or maintenance allowance. An extra clothing allowance may be authorized for special requirements or types of duty, but this is limited. Officers receive a onetime payment after commissioning to buy clothing. They do not receive any allowances to maintain their uniforms. Enlisted members are issued the standard wardrobe when they enter active duty. They get a clothing-replacement allowance on their anniversary month. The replacement allowance is paid at the “basic” rate for members with less than three years of service, and at the “standard” rate for members with three or more years of service.

Hostile Fire Pay. Paid to service members who work in an officially declared hostile fire zone (not war).

Being financially prepared is a big part of overall Family Readiness. There are unexpected exercises, schools, training, and other temporary assignments that not only changes your military pay but may interfere with your civilian employment pay. Being mobilized can also present unique financial challenges. Here are some basic guidelines that should be considered prior to mobilization.

Direct Deposit - Direct deposit is required to receive your military paycheck. Soldiers are required to have a checking (preferable) or savings account already established. Plan for a week or two after you initiate direct deposit for it to be activated.

Financial Bills - Service members are responsible for their household expenses/bills while they are deployed. These expenses could include rent, mortgage payments, car payments, credit cards, etc. Before deploying you should ensure that you have made arrangements for these payments to be taken care of. You may wish to appoint your spouse or family member with power of attorney, so that they can handle your finances while you are deployed.

Income Tax – If you will be deployed when your taxes are due, decide in advance how income taxes will be filed and who will do it. You may wish to file for an extension through the Internal Revenue Service by filing Form 2350: Application for Extension of Time to File U.S. Income Tax Return.

Leave and Earnings Statement (LES) - Each month, the service member will receive a LES showing their pay for the preceding month and any changes that will affect their pay for the current month. The LES will also show pay for special assignments; allowances for food, housing, and clothing; and what deductions were taken out of their pay for insurance and taxes.

The Employee/Member Self Service (E/MSS) allows you, as a Department of Defense Military Member, Civilian Employee, Military Retiree or Annuitant to make certain changes to your pay information (https://emss.dfas.mil/mypay.asp).  A TEMPORARY PIN is required to access E/MSS, you must fax the following information to DFAS-Cleveland/PMCAA Attention: E/MSS (Fax 216-522-5800) in order to establish a new temporary PIN:

  • Name
  • SSN
  • Copy of your government photo ID.
  • Daytime phone number
  • Signature

Your new Temporary PIN will be set to the last five numbers of your SSN. Please wait at least two business days before attempting to use your new temporary PIN. You will not receive any notification that your temporary PIN has been reset. You can try the new temporary PIN at least two business days after faxing your request. You can change your PIN number once you have gained access to the site.

It is difficult to drop everything and leave for deployment, particularly if you're involved with a complicated legal case, or haven't put your legal affairs in order yet. Be sure you take care of at least the following before you leave:

Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA) - USERRA provides reemployment protection and other benefits for veterans and employees who perform military service.

Soldiers and Sailors' Civil Relief Act (SSCRA) - Make sure you learn everything there is to know about this act. Under it, you could qualify for:

  • Reduced interest rate on mortgage payments.
  • Reduced interest rate on credit card debt.
  • Protection from eviction if your rent is $1,200 or less.
  • Delay of all civil court actions, such as bankruptcy, foreclosure or divorce proceedings.

Note that most of the protections SSCRA offers are good only during your duration of your active duty assignment. 

Wills - One of the most important tasks an individual or couple can do for personal and family readiness is to prepare a will.  A will ensures that your children have someone to take care of them and that your estate is disposed of properly. Without a will, the state will make those decisions for you and impose a fee for representation.

Power of Attorney - A power of attorney gives someone else (a spouse, relative, good friend) the legal power to act on your behalf when you are not able to act yourself. Setting up a power of attorney would allow the trusted individual to conduct business in your name, for example, banking transactions, selling or buying property, and everyday medical decisions.

Family Care Plan - A Family Care Plan is required for all single service members and dual-service couples responsible for family members. The plan outlines specifically the care of your family members in your absence. This is critical for single parents of young children. It is the service member's responsibility to maintain a current plan with his or her unit.

Servicemen's Group Life Insurance (SGLI) - For a small monthly charge, service members may get $200,000 of life insurance coverage. This coverage need not be the service member's only life insurance. The service member will need to identify who the beneficiary is and keep this policy updated.

ID Cards - Every eligible member of the family needs to have the Uniformed Services Identification and Privilege Card (ID). During peacetime, the ID card affords the family members certain entitlements such as exchange privileges, limited commissary privileges, recreational facilities, and military discounts. However, when the service member is called to active duty for longer than 30 days, the ID card will be necessary for medical benefits, arranging a transfer of goods, or obtaining base housing.  Be prepared to show proper documentation to prove eligibility (marriage certificate, birth certificates, adoption papers etc).

Mobilization is the act of assembling Reserve forces for active duty in times of war or national emergency. Generally, the type and degree of emergency determine the level of mobilization. Regardless of level, recall procedures and phases of mobilization remain the same.

Selective Mobilization responds to natural disasters or civilian disturbances that do not threaten national security. Examples of a domestic emergency that might require a selective mobilization would be a postal strike, an earthquake, or other natural disaster. 

Partial Mobilization occurs when the President mobilizes forces in response to external threats to national security for no longer than 24 months. 

Full Mobilization occurs when Congress mobilizes all Reserve units in response to a declaration of war or national emergency. Mobilization can last for the duration of the emergency plus six months to meet the requirements of a war or other national emergency involving an external threat to the national security. 

Total Mobilization occurs when the President and the Congress activate the entire Armed Forces, as well as all national resources to meet the requirements of war or other national emergencies involving an external threat to the national security. 

Members of the Reserves are given the maximum time possible between the date alerted and the date required to report for active duty.  However, under mobilization conditions, an emergency situation may require extremely short active duty notice.