Victims of abuse often feel isolated and discouraged. For the families of military service members, this isolation is more intense because they often live far from extended family and friends. Fortunately, the military has programs and resources to help victims of domestic abuse and child abuse. The Transitional Compensation Program helps alleviate the financial hardship family members face when they decide to leave an abusive relationship. The following information will help you understand transitional compensation benefits.
Receiving transitional compensation
Your installation's Family Advocacy Program or legal assistance office can help you apply for transitional compensation, which begins once an application has been approved. Transitional compensation is available to spouses and children of service members who have been separated or sentenced to a forfeiture of all pay and allowances due to domestic abuse. To be eligible, you must have been living in the home of and married to the service member.
In addition, the service member must have been convicted of a dependent-abuse offense and at least one of the following must apply:
- Separated under a court martial sentence
- Sentenced to a forfeiture of all pay and allowances by a court martial for a dependent abuse offense
- Administratively separated, at least in part, for a dependent-abuse offense
A dependent-abuse offense must be listed as a reason for the separation or forfeiture, although it does not have to be the primary reason. However, it is very difficult to add dependent abuse as a reason for separation after the service member has left the military.
You will become ineligible for compensation and benefits if you remarry or move back in with the former service member while receiving benefits. If compensation is available for more than 12 months, you will be required to recertify your eligibility for transitional compensation annually.
These transitional compensation benefits and limitations apply to all recipients:
- Amount of compensation - The compensation amount is based on the Dependency and Indemnity Compensation, which changes annually. Current amounts can be found at the Department of Veterans Affairs Compensation website.
- Travel and transportation allowance - This benefit helps abused spouses or parents of abused children who need to move away from the abuser for safety reasons. The allowance can be used to cover travel expenses and the cost of shipping household goods.
- Length of time compensation is available - Compensation is available for a minimum of 12 months or the unserved portion of the service member's obligated active service, whichever is longer. However, compensation will not extend beyond 36 months.
- Other benefits - As part of the Transitional Compensation Program, you may be eligible for other benefits, including medical care, exchange privileges and commissary privileges.
Additional assistance for victims
Transitional compensation is just one of the resources available to you as a victim of domestic abuse.
Your installation's Family Advocacy Program is another great source of support, with victim advocates who can:
- Help you develop a safety plan for you and your family
- Help you find a safe house or shelter
- Provide counseling
- Accompany you to a medical exam or court appearance
- Refer you to additional military and civilian resources
Remember that as a victim of domestic or child abuse you are not alone. There are resources available to provide information and help you make the best decisions for you and your family.