Is an Unnacompanied Tour / Move for you?
More and more military families are making the decision not to follow their spouse on a Permanent Change of Station (PCS) move. Or, the military member may choose an unaccompanied tour for a variety of reasons.
Many times the spouse staying behind has numerous options. They could move back ‘home’, or possibly stay at their current location. The second option may be selected because of the duration of assignment, a spouse having a career that they would like to continue or concerns about uprooting children from schools. Another choice could be to move to the next duty station (if known). There is no right answer. Whatever you decide comes with specific military rules and regulations.
Here are some items to research and review before you make your decision:
BAH Basic Allowance For Housing | The service member will still receive BAH for their family when they go unaccompanied. The calculation of the amount is often a complicated answer.
Here is one example, a spouse goes back home when the service member begins an unaccompanied tour overseas. The service member would not be returning to the previous duty station upon returning to the United States, so it did not make sense to stay there. Since the service member was sent on an unaccompanied tour, the family receives BAH based on their actual location.
Additional Pay Opportunities | Many unaccompanied tours provide danger and differential pay and family separation allowance. This can allow your family to afford travel, summer camp, home repairs, etc. It is also an opportunity to build a savings account for expenses that may arise, or even a future downpayment for a home or new vehicle upon the service members return. Remember to research whether you should adjust your tax withholdings.
Travel Opportunities | Most unaccompanied tours include the opportunity for the service member’s children to travel to visit them. Travel back from many unaccompanied locations is a long and arduous affair, so many families meet in an alternate location for a R&R adventure. There are several Armed Forces Recreation Centers (AFRC) Resorts around the world for this purpose. This is a great opportunity to travel abroad.
An unaccompanied tour is a personal decision, no one can answer this for you and your family. Consider your family’s best interests. Sometimes an unaccompanied tour can be a deciding factor in your future military advancements. The tour may give your family the short term opportunity to live close to family for needed support, other times it can mean living near past or future duty stations with the vast support system among the military community.