Ben Longworth (Courtesy photo)

Editor's Note: The following story highlights a veteran at CHS Inc. committed to including talented members of the military community in its workplace. CHS Inc. is a client of Hirepurpose, a Task & Purpose sister company. Learn More.

Ben Longworth enlisted into the Navy Sonar Technician program in 1978 and served for six years. He chose the field because it would give him experience in mechanical, hydraulic, and electronic systems. Longworth still uses that machinery experience as an Electrical Superintendent at CHS Inc., a Fortune 100 agricultural and energy company.

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John Mechkowski (Courtesy photo)

Editor's Note: The following story highlights a veteran at U.S. Cellular committed to including talented members of the military community in its workplace. U.S. Cellular is a client of Hirepurpose, a Task & Purpose sister company. Learn More.

When the Marine Corps assigned John Mechkowski to the field of communications, he didn't imagine that several years later, he would work as an associate data network engineer at U.S. Cellular. His time in the military gave him experience that not only made him successful in his job search, but brought him to a veteran-friendly company that he loves.

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Adam Lindeman and Nicole Kukla (Courtesy photos)

Editor's Note: The following story highlights a veteran at Best Buy committed to including talented members of the military community in its workplace. Best Buy is a client of Hirepurpose, a Task & Purpose sister company. Learn More.

Best Buy's corporate culture is a great environment for people of diverse backgrounds, including military veterans. Not only do they encourage veterans to apply with the help of the military skills translator on the Career Portal website that helps translate military experience into civilian leadership terms, but they also actively support employees in the National Guard or Reserves who need to take time away from work for drill weekends and deployments.

Hirepurpose spoke with two employees to learn more about the ways Best Buy encouraged them during their military career.

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Jacob Leonard (Courtesy photo)

Editor's Note: The following story highlights a veteran at Exelon committed to including talented members of the military community in its workplace. Comcast is a client of Hirepurpose, a Task &Purpose sister company. Learn More.

A civilian job after military life may sound easy at first. There are no early-morning PT sessions and formations, so a regular 9-to-5 job may seem like a dream. But giving up the discipline, organization, and skills you learned in the military will not do you any favors in civilian life. Veterans will be more successful if they approach a civilian job with the same high level of work ethic they were taught in the military.

That's the advice of Jacob Leonard, a former Marine who now works as an accountant at Exelon, supporting the company's nuclear energy generation division.

"Don't drop your pack," he says. "You just can't give up after the military. A lot of veterans go that way, then they lose that sense of belonging."

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For anyone dating or married to a military service member, "unaccompanied orders" can be a complicated and frustrating situation. I often see questions from people wanting to know whether or not their family should request unaccompanied orders, or whether they can follow their service member overseas with unaccompanied orders. As someone who has lived overseas with accompanied orders, I can tell you the challenges you will face if you are not listed on them.

WHAT ARE UNACCOMPANIED ORDERS?

When a service member receives unaccompanied orders, it means that his or her family members are not listed on the orders and are not expected to accompany them to the next duty station. This can happen for a variety of reasons.

SHORT-TERM ASSIGNMENTS

If a service member leaves their current base for a school or training that is less than 9 months, the military may not relocate the family to accompany the service member. The service member is often expected to stay in barracks or bachelor quarters during their class, while the family continues to stay in their current housing situation on or off base.

HEALTH ISSUES

If the military wants to send a service member to a smaller duty station that does not have convenient access to local hospitals, the location may not meet the needs of family members with specific health conditions or special needs. That is why there is an EFMP (Exceptional Family Member Program) on base to articulate those needs. When a service member receives orders overseas, the entire family must pass a medical screening process to ensure their needs will be met at the foreign duty station. Depending on the service member's job, family member health can either make them ineligible for those orders, or it can turn the orders into an unaccompanied tour.

SAFETY AND STABILITY

Some locations do not allow service members to bring their families because they are located in a somewhat volatile or dangerous part of the world. Service members can be assigned for one to two years overseas without family members.

CAN I MOVE WITH MY SERVICE MEMBER'S UNACCOMPANIED ORDERS IF I PAY OUT OF POCKET?

This answer is more complex because it depends on the location and the reason the orders are unaccompanied. If the service member is sent to a short-term school assignment, for example, then a family could choose to pay for their own move, look for housing in the area, and move their Tricare coverage to the new location. This option can be expensive and relocating can be frustrating, but many families decide it is worth it to have more time together. In this case, be sure to research your service member's BAH rates to determine if it is still calculated at the former duty station and whether it will cover housing at the new location.

However, if the family receives unaccompanied orders because of medical or safety concerns, then I strongly caution you to carefully consider whether to follow the service member, especially overseas. You may be allowed to visit for extended periods; however, living and working overseas without being listed on military orders can be extremely expensive and challenging. Here are some of the issues:

NO HEALTH CARE

If you are not listed on orders, Tricare may not cover your need for specialists or certain prescriptions in your area, especially if that is what caused your family to be medically rejected from the orders. Even if you are relatively healthy, you may not have access to the base hospital for appointments or emergencies.

NO VISA

Without command sponsorship, you can get your own passport, but you will not automatically have a Visa to enter a foreign country. In some locations, this means you cannot enter the country at all. In most nations, it means you are not allowed to visit for longer than one month.

NO BASE ACCESS

Without an ID card issued by the foreign government, you cannot get on base without your sponsor. This means you will have to live off base and use local stores instead of the Commissary or PX/BX/NEX. However, your service member will be given housing on base and will NOT receive any additional housing allowance such as BAH or OHA (Overseas Housing Allowance.)

NO JOBS

Getting a job overseas is difficult even for a family member listed on orders. Many host nations with Americans on base have a SOFA (Status of Forces Agreement) that guarantees most base jobs will go to local nationals. Without a Visa, you are not allowed to work on the local economy, even if you speak the language.

VERY EXPENSIVE

Not only will you be paying for your own plane tickets and moving expenses, but you will also be paying out-of-pocket for housing, utilities, transportation, medical care, and daily expenses.

No one can stop you from following your service member overseas on unaccompanied orders, but it is a decision that will require a lot of thought and research, along with a strong savings account.

PCSgrades.com is a review platform by and for military and veteran families. Leave a review of your prior duty station or neighborhood and read the reviews of your next duty station.

This post was sponsored by PCSgrades.

(Courtesy photos)

Editor's Note: The following story highlights a veteran at Walgreens committed to including talented members of the military community in its workplace. Walgreens is a client of Hirepurpose, a Task & Purpose sister company. Learn more.

Walgreens recently announced a pledge to hire 5,000 veterans over the next five years.

The company has also created the national Helping Veterans with Education and Retail Opportunities (HERO) program so that veterans not only have a job but a path to leadership and future success.

Stephen Johnson, an Army veteran and Walgreens regional vice president, says that hiring veterans doesn't just benefit former military families; it helps Walgreens too.

"Our customers are from all of America, and we want our employees to reflect that," he said. "We accept Tricare and have many military patrons near military bases, so why not hire veterans? We want to feed the future leadership of Walgreens so employees can work their way up the leadership chain."

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