Thursday, June 13, 2024

Military spouses can recoup up to $1,000 in business costs after moves

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Military spouses can now be reimbursed for up to $1,000 for certain business costs they incur when moving to a new base, under policies finalized by all but one of the service branches.

Frequent military moves pose unique difficulties for business-owning spouses, who can take significant hits to their revenue or be forced to shutter altogether as they navigate a web of state regulations and bureaucratic delays. To help keep those entrepreneurs afloat, the military will cover at least part of the cost of moving and removal services for business equipment, new equipment purchases, information technology costs, and fees for business permits, registration and inspections.

“We owe it to them to provide any opportunity to not just have a job, but build a fulfilling career,” said Lt. Gen. Kevin Vereen, who as a deputy chief of staff overseeing installations is the Army’s top quality-of-life official.

Lawmakers included the new benefit in the 2023 National Defense Authorization Act, prompting each branch of the military to craft their own implementation guidelines. The Army announced its new reimbursement policy June 4; the Navy issued its policy April 29. The Air Force and Space Force finalized their own version last fall. The Marine Corps is still developing its guidelines, officials said.

Spouses could already recoup as much as $1,000 spent to obtain new professional licenses due to a permanent change of station — a policy that has been in place for several years. Now they can be reimbursed for both types of spending, totaling up to $2,000 per PCS move.

As long as the spouse owned their business or held the professional credential at a prior duty station — not only the most recent duty station — they can qualify for reimbursement, the Army, Navy and Air Force said.

For example, say a spouse owns a business while at Fort Stewart, Ga., but stops operating the business after moving to Fort Liberty, N.C. A few years later, when the business owner moves again for their spouse’s assignment at the Pentagon, the spouse could still ask the Army to reimburse the costs of operating their business.

The opportunity is available to spouses married to troops who received PCS orders dated Dec. 22, 2023, or later, and will run through the end of 2029. Navy and Air Force spouses must submit requests for reimbursement within 24 months after the PCS orders are issued. The Army did not immediately provide instructions on filing for reimbursement.

More information on reimbursement rules and applications is available through each military branch, or from DOD’s Spouse Education and Career Opportunities Program.

Air Force and Space Force: Service members should contact their installation’s Military and Family Readiness Center with questions about eligibility and how to submit a claim. The finance office will work with the service member and the spouse to verify eligibility and to ensure they provide the right paperwork to prove their qualified expenses.

Navy: The Navy policy points sailors to MPM-1754-04 for information on documentation requirements. That includes documents such as the Memorandum Spouse Licensure Reimbursement Request; the OF-1164 Claim for Reimbursement for Expenditures on Official Business; a copy of PCS orders; a copy of previous license/certificate and the new license/certificate; and a copy of receipts for a new license/certificate or qualified business relocation costs. The package must be scanned and sent by secure email to ASKMNCC.FCY@NAVY.MIL.

Army: The Army directive states that officials will publish an all-Army activities message providing instructions for filing for reimbursement.

Karen has covered military families, quality of life and consumer issues for Military Times for more than 30 years, and is co-author of a chapter on media coverage of military families in the book “A Battle Plan for Supporting Military Families.” She previously worked for newspapers in Guam, Norfolk, Jacksonville, Fla., and Athens, Ga.

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