When you retire or separate from the military, you’re bound to have mixed feelings. You are probably excited about the upcoming change and the chance to move to a new home. But you’re also likely to feel stressed about the logistics of the move. Fortunately, there are steps you can take and resources available to help you make plans and stay organized during your final military move.
You’ve probably moved with the military more than once, but this move will be different because you’re not going to a new duty station – you’re going to your new home. The military has a system set up to help you plan your move so it goes off without a hitch.
- Set up your move online. Once you have orders, you can begin the planning process with Move.mil. With access to this site, you can set up your final move online.
- Visit the Relocation Assistance (RAP) office. The office is staffed by trained professionals who can help you manage your move. Because each move is different and regulations vary by Service branch and location, the RAP staff can help you understand what benefits are available as part of your final move.
- Visit Plan My Move. As a fully customizable relocation tool, Plan My Move provides a system to help service members and their families organize their moves. On the site, you can create “To Do” lists, “Important Telephone Number” lists, and find links to more than ninety individual moving tasks with points of contact.
Moving your household goods
For most service members leaving the military either at retirement or at their end of active service (EAS), a final move at government expense is authorized. Detailed information and weight allowances are available through your installation’s RAP office, Transportation Management Office (TMO), or on the Move.mil website.
- Retirees — As a retiree, you are authorized a final move anywhere within the United States (including Alaska and Hawaii) or to your home of record outside the United States. The benefits are available for one year from your retirement date, but extensions may be granted on a case-by-case basis.
- Separating at your EAS — Depending on your type of discharge, you may be allowed one final move from your last duty station. Details vary based on the type of separation.
- Honorable discharge, involuntary separation — You may be moved anywhere within the United States (including Alaska and Hawaii) or to your home of record outside the United States within one year of your separation date.
- Honorable discharge, voluntary separation — If you are separating voluntarily and not under a special Service branch program, you are authorized a final move within 180 days. You will be moved to your home of record (or to a location of equal or lesser distance). If you are separating under a Service branch program, see you RAP office for details on your particular program.
- Other than honorable, bad conduct, or dishonorable discharge — You must have a letter from the convening authority authorizing your entitlement to a move.
- Service members living in installation housing may be authorized one move out of housing into the local community, and a final move within the time and geographic limits listed above. In limited circumstances, an installation commander may allow separating service members to remain in family housing for up to 180 days, but they will be required to pay rent based on current Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH) rates.
Other benefit and allowances
Travel allowances and other final move benefits vary by Service branch. Check with the RAP on your installation to be sure you take advantage of any moving benefits or travel allowances that may be available, including the following:
- Storage — Storage of your household goods – either temporary or non-temporary – may be necessary and included as part of your final move. Your RAP office can provide details on the time limits available for storage based on your orders.
- Travel allowances — In many cases, service members leaving the military take terminal leave, which does not include travel allowances. However, check with your Service branch’s personnel office to find out about your particular circumstances. For example, service members separating from an OCONUS duty station may be allowed travel allowances when they leave their duty station.
- Personally Procured Move (PPM) — Formerly known as a do-it-yourself (DITY) move, PPM is a voluntary program that will reimburse you for the majority of your costs when you move yourself. Separating and retiring service members may take advantage of this program. Keep in mind you must have prior approval from the Personal Property Office (PPO) to claim expenses for a PPM.
- Mileage and per diem — Mileage and per diem may be paid in certain, specific circumstances as part of a final move. Check with you RAP office or your Service branch’s personnel office for details on what entitlements and allowances you may receive based on your orders.
Tips for your final move
You may be a pro at moving, but you will have a lot on your plate as you separate from the military and plan your final move. The following tips will help make your last move your best move yet:
- Set up your move as soon as possible. As soon as you know where you’re going, schedule the move or storage of your household goods. Although you may have up to a year to complete your final move, scheduling your move early will help ensure you move on the date you choose. If you want to store your household goods, decide where you want them stored. Be sure to coordinate with your PPO or TMO to avoid any unexpected financial costs for storage.
- Create a “command center.” This is a central location for all the details – such as lists and important phone numbers – that relate to your move. This is also the place to keep all of your important documents (orders and medical records, for example). A large accordion binder works well for this. Even if you’re keeping lists and other documents on your computer, be sure to make hard copies for your command center.
- Prioritize. Rather than trying to do it all at once, make an A list, a B list, and a C list, depending on what needs to be done first. This can help you focus on what’s most important.
- Find out about the new community. Your installation’s RAP office can help you with contact information and information on how to obtain a chamber of commerce package on your new area. You can also use online resources, such as MilitaryINSTALLATIONS, to find statistics about your new community, including school performance, crime reports, salaries, cost of living, and more.