Army personnel can apply for hardship pay and isolation allowances if they’ve been impacted by the Pentagon’s halt on permanent change of station moves during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, service leaders said Thursday during a call with reporters.
If a soldier and their family isn’t interested in moving any longer, they can also apply through Human Resources Command to remain in place.
“The Army proactively stopped movement to protect our soldiers, preserve our capability and protect our nation,” said Lt. Gen. Duane A. Gamble, the Army’s deputy chief of staff G-4. “The stop-movement allows for very few and very specific exemptions for personnel movement that are currently being adjudicated at a very high level.”
Exemptions are limited to rare cases, like extreme family hardships, Army officials said. Those exemptions would have to be approved at the Army’s vice chief of staff level, they added.
However, the good news is that hardship pay is available for those who haven’t yet completed a PCS move.
“It allows $100 per day, not to exceed $1,500 to defray the of additional lodging if a commander restricts them or they’re restricted by the stop-move policy,” said Lt. Gen. Thomas C. Seamands, the Army’s deputy chief of staff G-1.
A family at Fort Bragg on hold, for instance, could be entitled to a maximum of $1,500 a month to defray their costs, Seamands said.
Isolation allowances are also available. Those are designed for soldiers and families ordered to be isolated after completing a PCS. Isolation pay is based on local per diem rates.
“So if a soldier is in route to, say, Fort Riley,” Seamands said. “[They] arrive at Fort Riley, and are required to go into isolation, this would help them offset the temporary lodging expenses while they’re there.”
Soldiers have to apply for both allowances. Seamands noted that Human Resources Command officials are being briefed on the changing policies, and a 24-hour hotline has been set up for soldiers who are PCS’ing, on temporary travel orders or on emergency leave. That hotline’s number is 1-800-582-5552.
The stop-move policy has thrown many soldiers’ lives in limbo, and some of the policy changes could alleviate their financial problems.
Seamands said they’re also now allowing soldiers on orders but who are still at their duty stations prior to completing a PCS move to request to stay at that duty station if that works best for them and their families.
“A lot of the NCOs who actually re-enlisted to go to someplace like Hawaii, we guess they’ll probably opt to continue on,” said Seamands. “But as a soldier, family sits down and talks about it and they opt to stay ... [they can] go to HRC and, absent any mission essential nature of their assignment, they should be allowed to stay in place.”
Kyle Rempfer is an editor and reporter who has covered combat operations, criminal cases, foreign military assistance and training accidents. Before entering journalism, Kyle served in U.S. Air Force Special Tactics and deployed in 2014 to Paktika Province, Afghanistan, and Baghdad, Iraq.