Are unaccompanied orders in your future?

I always said I would never willingly be separated from my husband. Luckily for us, most circumstances allowed us to make a choice to be together. The closest we came to even considering being separated, aside from mandatory deployments, was when he was assigned at the last minute to a seat at the Army War College. We had been expecting another year at his current duty station, so the assignment caught us by surprise. Additionally, it was not a convenient time to move for me professionally, and it was a horrible time for us to leave the home we had purchased two years prior. The housing market was at its lowest in almost two decades, and our house was under water.

But in the end, we decided it was more important to keep our family together, so we rolled the landlord dice and later ended up on the losing end (that is an article for another day!). Carlisle ended up being one of our favorite tours! We loved everything about those short ten months from the newly built house we found to rent, to the kids' school, to the mil spouses who have become lifelong friends. In looking back, it was the perfect decision for us, especially since my husband ended up deploying for 13 months a year later.

NO CHOICE

Not everyone is as fortunate in being able to avoid the dreaded unaccompanied tour. A service member doesn't always have the option to bring the family along because of where the assignment is located. Korea and Turkey are two locations where unaccompanied orders are frequent. In 2016, more than 600 family members of U.S. military and civilian personnel were forced to leave Incirlik Air Base and several smaller bases in Turkey because of worsening security conditions there. The Pentagon has since changed the status of permanent duty assignments there to one-year, unaccompanied tours.

TO STAY OR GO?

Whether unaccompanied by choice or not, there are decisions to be made. Where should the family live and will a move be paid for? The answer is, it depends. There are a number of reasons why a family will choose to stay behind. Spouse employment, a special needs family member, real estate obligations, elderly parents, or a high school senior are just a few. I've known many families personally that have decided not to follow their service member so that their high school age student could graduate from a particular school.

I had another friend who stayed behind in Florida when her husband was sent to Japan for a year. She had little kids, and it wasn't a good time for her professionally to move. At the end of that year, he was offered a three-year follow-on assignment there, and the family joined him.

OPTIONS

When the decision is made not to PCS with the service member, or when unaccompanied orders leave you no choice, there are several options to be considered. The simplest might be to stay at your current duty station. If selling the house is a concern or you have older children who do not want to change schools, this might be what is best for your family at the time.

Another option is to move back "home." Some choose to be surrounded by friends and family in a familiar environment. With a spouse halfway around the world, the comforts of home might be exactly what you need.

Others might choose to move ahead to the next duty station if you know where you are headed. This option allows you and the kids to get settled while your service member is away. The one downside is that the powers that be may change your spouse's orders and you end up moving unnecessarily. This happened to a friend of mine. She left Duty Station A and moved to Duty Station B while her husband deployed. Not only did she spend the year away from him, but she was starting over in a new area. At the end of the year, his orders were changed, and the entire family ended up back at Duty Station A!

WHAT ABOUT BAH?

As for how Basic Allowance for Housing or BAH is calculated, it can get tricky. If a family is not allowed to accompany their service member because of the location of the tour, the BAH the family receives is based on their location which could be their current duty station, the follow-on duty station or their hometown if they choose to go home.

If a move home is not authorized for an assignment, the BAH would be based on the duty station where the service member is stationed, no matter where the family lives.

NO RIGHT OR WRONG

Do your homework and ask questions to find out what your situation warrants.

Deciding whether to go or stay is not easy, and there is no "right" or "wrong" answer. Your family's particular circumstances will dictate the final decision. You may want to be surrounded by family and friends while your spouse is away. You may choose to stay put if your spouse's follow on tour is where you are currently stationed. Or you may want to move ahead to the next duty station to give the kids a chance to settle in, giving them one more year to call a place home.

Want real information on your next duty station from real Mil-families just like yours? Join our community and read and submit reviews on moving companies, on-base housing, neighborhoods, and more!

The post was sponsored by PCSgrades.com.

Soldiers from the 1-118th Field Artillery Regiment of the 48th Infantry Brigade Combat Team fire an M777 Howitzer during a fire mission in Southern Afghanistan, June 10th, 2019. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Jordan Trent)

Once again, the United States and the Taliban are apparently close to striking a peace deal. Such a peace agreement has been rumored to be in the works longer than the latest "Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure" sequel. (The difference is Keanu Reeves has fewer f**ks to give than U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad.)

Both sides appeared to be close to reaching an agreement in September until the Taliban took credit for an attack that killed Army Sgt. 1st Class Elis A. Barreto Ortiz, of the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division. That prompted President Donald Trump to angrily cancel a planned summit with the Taliban that had been scheduled to take place at Camp David, Maryland, on Sept. 8.

Now Taliban spokesman Suhail Shaheen has told a Pakistani newspaper that he is "optimistic" that the Taliban could reach an agreement with U.S. negotiators by the end of January.

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Audie Murphy (U.S. Army photo)

Editor's note: a version of this post first appeared in 2018

On January 26, 1945, the most decorated U.S. service member of World War II earned his legacy in a fiery fashion.

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A Purple Heart (DoD photo)

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Editor's Note: This article by Gina Harkins originally appeared on Military.com, a leading source of news for the military and veteran community.

The Navy and Marine Corps need to be a bit more short-sighted when assessing how many ships they need, the acting Navy secretary said this week.

The Navy Department is in the middle of a new force-structure review, which could change the number and types of ships the sea services say they'll need to fight future conflicts. But instead of trying to project what they will need three decades out, which has been the case in past assessments, acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly said the services will take a shorter view.

"I don't know what the threat's going to be 30 years from now, but if we're building a force structure for 30 years from now, I would suggest we're probably not building the right one," he said Friday at a National Defense Industrial Association event.

The Navy completed its last force-structure assessment in 2016. That 30-year plan called for a 355-ship fleet.

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When Oscar Jesus Temores showed up to work at Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek-Fort Story each day, his colleagues in base security knew they were in for a treat.

Temores was a master-at-arms who loved his job and cracking corny jokes.

"He just he just had that personality that you can go up to him and talk to him about anything. It was goofy and weird, and he always had jokes," said Petty Officer 3rd Class Derek Lopez, a fellow base patrolman. "Sometimes he'd make you cry from laughter and other times you'd just want to cringe because of how dumb his joke was. But that's what made him more approachable and easy to be around."

That ability to make others laugh and put people at ease is just one of the ways Temores is remembered by his colleagues. It has been seven weeks since the 23-year-old married father of one was killed when a civilian intruder crashed his pickup truck into Temores' vehicle at Fort Story.

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