How is the Military Protecting My Service Member During COVID-19?

service members having their temperatures taken

Current as of July 20, 2021


The Department of Defense remains committed to the health and safety of military members and their families. This time of coronavirus disease 2019 is no different. The DOD continues to work with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other agencies to stop the spread. The DOD offers free resources through Military OneSource. Each program helps with different military-life challenges or seasons.

Testing and Surveillance for COVID-19

Learn about the DOD’s expanded testing for coronavirus disease 2019 and other measures to detect the disease early and stop its spread.

Protecting against COVID-19

Your local government set guidelines to keep the community healthy. The DOD has taken these steps to help keep military members healthy:

  • Authorized telework when duties allow
  • Started daily health screening for jobs where remote work isn’t possible
  • Restricted personnel movement and travel (now resuming in phases as local conditions allow)
  • Required face masks for all individuals who are not fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and are performing DOD duties, whether on military installations or at other locations including in common areas, shared workspaces and outdoor shared spaces
  • Required frequent handwashing and social distancing in accordance with CDC guidelines for all individuals who are not fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and are performing DOD duties
  • Began tiered COVID-19 testing of military personnel
  • Required risk assessments for service members, DOD civilian employees and DOD contractor personnel prior to travel
  • Authorized pre-travel and restriction of movement-associated testing for official international air travel at military medical treatment facilities for DOD civilian employees and members of the selected reserve including members of the National Guard

Installations are taking additional precautions. Read about your service member’s location.

Protecting your service member during deployment and redeployment

As deployments and redeployments resume, the DOD prioritizes:

  • Protecting military and civilian personnel and their families
  • Safeguarding our national security capabilities
  • Supporting the nationwide response to the pandemic

When your service member deploys or redeploys, safety measures will include:

  • A viral test for COVID-19 one to three days before departure; exceptions to testing may be made for those who are:
    • Fully recovered from a laboratory-confirmed diagnosis of COVID-19
    • Fully vaccinated against COVID-19
  • Appropriate screening at the assigned place of duty or point of embarkation
  • Assessment of exposure history, temperature and any COVID-19 signs and symptoms and past test results
  • Consultation with a DOD health care provider if direct screening isn’t possible
  • Evaluation and testing, if necessary, of anyone with a fever or affirmative responses to screening questions
  • Isolation following DOD guidance for anyone who tests positive during screening or meets the clinical case definition of probable infection
  • Mandatory 10-day restriction of movement for all non-vaccinated service members before deploying outside the United States (or after arrival, with permission)
    • ROM may be reduced to seven days with a negative viral test administered within 48 hours prior to the end of the seven-day ROM.
    • An exception to ROM may be made for those who fully recovered from COVID-19 within three months of travel.
  • Viral testing for COVID-19 one to three days prior to redeployment from outside the U.S.
    • An exception to viral testing prior to redeployment may be made for those traveling on military or contracted commercial airlift.
  • Viral testing for COVID-19 three to five days after travel
    • Individuals fully recovered from COVID-19 within the last three months are not required to undergo viral testing before or after travel unless they are symptomatic.
  • Mandatory assessment before redeployment from within the U.S. to see if 10-day restriction of movement is indicated
  • ROM for 10 days after redeploying from outside the U.S., or seven days with a negative COVID-19 test within 48 hours of the seven-day ROM

Protecting your service member’s pay and benefits

COVID-19 has changed routines around the world. This includes many service members’ duties and training. The DOD understands that can heighten anxiety so it has acted to protect pay and benefits.

Financial assistance and counseling

Closures have strained finances for many. Resources are available to help service members, including:

Military OneSource is here 24/7 to keep you informed. Visit our Coronavirus Updates for Our Military Community page.

For DOD updates for the military community on COVID-19, view these sites:

Guidance for Department of Defense Civilians

person traveling with mask

Current as of July 19, 2021


The Department of Defense is committed to evaluating the threat from COVID-19 and its impact on the nation’s security. The pandemic still presents risks, but conditions are improving.

Based on improving conditions, the DOD is making updates. It has changed its approach to travel restrictions. This applies to service members, DOD civilian personnel on government-funded travel and their families. The department is now reviewing local conditions by place. That dictates when to lift restrictions. This replaces previous broad restrictions until further notice.

The DOD has updated its COVID-19 travel restriction policy.

The department is now basing decisions on local conditions by place. This replaces previous broad travel restrictions.

The DOD will continue to assess its installations, facilities and locations to protect its people. They are its top priority. Conditions vary, so you can also contact local installations for updates.

Civilian community conditions may also vary, so check your state health department for details about local COVID-19 guidelines.

If you are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, you can resume most activities without wearing a mask, except where required by laws, rules, regulations and local guidance. However, masks are required on public transportation, including airplanes, trains and buses; and in transportation hubs, such as airports and train and bus stations.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises everyone who is not fully vaccinated against COVID-19 to continue to:

  • Practice social distancing and good hygiene.
  • Minimize nonessential travel.
  • Use face coverings in public.

If you are vulnerable, the CDC encourages you to shelter in place. If you feel sick, stay at home and call your medical provider.

New COVID-19 requirements for civilians who are deploying

As personnel start to resume movement, the DOD has new force health-protection requirements. They help minimize risk and ensure force health. They apply to DOD civilians who deploy or redeploy inside and outside the nation. They are in accordance with DODI 6490.03, which calls for:

  • Screening for COVID-19 exposure and symptoms before travel.
  • Viral testing for COVID-19 one to three days before departure. An exception to testing may be made if you recovered fully from COVID-19 within three months of deployment or if you are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and are traveling from the U.S. to a foreign country that does not require testing.
  • Restricting movement to your residence or other appropriate domicile for 10 days before deploying if you are not fully vaccinated against COVID-19. Pre-deployment restriction of movement is not required if the host nation requires ROM upon arrival.
  • Limiting close contact with anyone you didn’t travel with and adhering to strict wearing of face covering and frequent hand-washing. Avoid crowds, use of public transportation and close interaction with pets.

While under restriction of movement:

  • Consider ROM location as your official duty location.
  • Self-monitor for fever, cough, difficulty breathing or other COVID symptoms. If symptoms develop, self-isolate and seek advice via telephone with a healthcare provider. Return to work only at the direction of the healthcare provider.
  • Notify chain of command or your supervisor if you or others in your household develop symptoms.
  • Telework when practical per direction of your commander or supervisor.

See the latest DOD guidance for more details.

Wearing cloth face coverings

All individuals who are not fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and are performing DOD duties, whether on military installations or at other locations (indoor and outdoor) must wear masks, including in common areas, shared workspaces and outdoor shared spaces. Masks must cover the face and nose in compliance with guidance from the CDC. Masks may be removed if an individual:

  • Is working from their home
  • Is alone in an office with floor to ceiling walls and a closed door
  • Is eating or drinking while social distancing (may remove for brief periods of time)
  • Needs to lower the mask for identification or security purposes
  • Needs to lower or remove the mask to reasonably accommodate individuals with a disability

Additional exceptions, categorical or case-by-case, may be granted in writing by DOD Component heads for service members and their families. If granted, exceptions should include appropriate alternative safeguards whenever feasible, such as additional physical distancing measures or additional testing consistent with DOD testing protocols. The authority to grant exceptions for all DOD Components located on the Pentagon Reservation is the interim director of Administration and Management.

Masks recommended by the CDC include:

  • Non-medical disposable masks
  • Masks made with breathable fabric or tightly woven fabric
  • Masks with two or three layers
  • Masks with inner filter pockets

Unauthorized masks include:

  • Novelty or non-protective masks
  • Masks with ventilation valves
  • Face shields

Do not place cloth face coverings on children under age 2, anyone who has trouble breathing, is unconscious, incapacitated or otherwise unable to remove the mask without help. Be careful not to touch your eyes, nose or mouth when removing your face covering. Wash your hands as soon as you finish.

Changes at your workplace

As businesses reopen, it’s important to follow CDC safety guidelines at work, as well as in public. Keeping a safe distance from others and wearing a face covering is important to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. Your supervisor may ask you to continue to:

Adaptive equipment availability

If you need to work from home, you may be eligible to receive adaptive equipment (ergonomic keyboards, lumbar support devices, screen magnification software, etc.) to help you perform your job. The Computer/Electronic Accommodations Program will:

  • Provide equipment for identified needs at no cost to the agency.
  • In many instances, ship equipment directly to your home.
  • Conduct your needs assessment via telephone or email.
  • Extend medical documentation deadlines.

If you have limitations due to hearing or vision loss, memory loss, arthritis or carpal tunnel, visit the CAP website for more information.

When you must stay at home

There may be times when staying home is in the best interest of your coworkers and the community.

  • You may receive Weather and Safety leave if public health authorities order you to self-quarantine.
  • You may request telework if you have been in contact with someone infected with COVID-19 and want to self-quarantine. You may also request annual leave, advanced annual leave, other paid time off or leave without pay.
  • You may request telework if you need to care for a family member who is not sick, but who is in quarantine after being exposed to COVID-19. You must track your hours and use paid or unpaid leave for time spent on caregiving.

Working when school or day care closes

If your child’s day care or school has shut down because of COVID-19 and you don’t have alternative child care, check with your supervisor about the following options:

  • Continue teleworking while your children are home. You must track your hours and use paid or unpaid leave for time spent on caregiving.
  • Use annual leave or other paid time off, such as accrued compensatory time or credit hours.
  • Work an alternative schedule, such as compressed hours or flexible workdays or hours.

If you or a family member become sick

  • Speak with your supervisor if you or a family member becomes sick and you run out of sick leave. You may receive an advance of up to 30 days of sick leave for yourself and up to 13 days of sick leave to care for a family member who is ill.
  • If you become ill and need emergency care while working overseas, your command may prepay the cost of your care.
  • If your illness is work-related, you may be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits.

Healthy habits at work and home

We all have a role in keeping ourselves, our coworkers and others healthy and safe.

  • Wash your hands regularly with soap and water.
  • Wear a face covering in public, especially when using mass transit.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
  • Avoid large gatherings.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Call your doctor if you have symptoms of COVID-19, including fever, cough and shortness of breath.
  • Clean and disinfect surfaces you regularly touch such as counters, desktops, door handles, coffee pots and keyboards.

We will continue to provide updates as the situation evolves and additional guidance for civilian employees develops. You can find this guidance at Defense Civilian Personnel Advisory Service Emergency Preparedness.

Understanding of COVID-19 continues to change, so continue to check our Coronavirus Updates for Our Military Community page for updates.

Want to find the phone number for your installation’s housing office or Military and Family Support Center? Find those and more on MilitaryINSTALLATIONS, an online information directory for military installations worldwide. For updates and information specific to your location, visit your installation’s official website. You can also follow your installation’s Facebook, Twitter or Instagram platforms. For Department of Defense updates for the military community:

Obtaining and Renewing Military ID and Common Access Cards During COVID-19

Hands passing ID card

Current as of July 19, 2021


Department of Defense Commitment

The DOD is committed to protecting the nation’s security as well as your safety and that of your family. This includes temporarily updating issuance and renewal processes for ID cards and CACs to ensure your continued access to health care and other benefits during this time of increased precaution and restrictions.

Your military benefits, like access to commissaries and exchanges and health care, tie into your military identification card. At a time of increased precautions and restrictions because of coronavirus disease 2019, you may be wondering how military ID, Common Access Card and Volunteer Logical Access Credentials issuance and renewal will work.

Review the following details to learn about temporary updates that change issuance and renewal processes during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Renewing military ID cards

The Department of Defense has extended benefits for holders of military ID cards with expiration dates between Jan. 1, 2020 and July 31, 2021. If the cardholder’s affiliation is unchanged, benefits will continue as follows:

  • Through Aug. 31, 2021, for all foreign affiliates and their dependents
  • Through Oct. 31, 2021, for active-duty, Guard and reserve service members and their dependents
  • Through Jan. 31, 2022, for retirees, their dependents and all others

Also, note the following:

  • ID cards that expired before Jan. 1, 2020, have not been extended and must be replaced. ID cards with expiration dates after July 31, 2021, must be replaced by their expiration date.
  • Remotely issued military ID cards are valid for their full lifecycle. Dependents’ ID cards are valid for four years unless eligibility ends sooner.
  • Contact your nearest RAPIDS site for assistance or to schedule an appointment to renew your ID card or get a replacement if it is lost or stolen.
  • Do not use your ID card if your eligibility has ended. The DOD will verify your eligibility electronically before taking away an expired ID card with an expiration date between Jan. 1, 2020 and July 31, 2021.

If your status is listed in the Individuals column of the following chart, take the corresponding step(s) noted to renew your ID card that is set to expire between Jan. 1, 2020 and July 31, 2021.

IndividualsImpact to BenefitsSteps to Take
Sponsors and dependents turning age 65You must be enrolled in Medicare Part B for continued benefits.
  1. Check milConnect to see whether Medicare Part B has been reported.
  2. Contact your nearest RAPIDS site for assistance and have the following ready:
    1. Completed DD Form 1172-2, indicating that sponsor is providing more than 50% support
    2. Proof of enrollment in Medicare Part B
Dependents turning age 21You must be enrolled as a full-time student, be approved as an incapacitated dependent or be registered for TRICARE Young Adult for continued eligibility.
  1. Students, contact your nearest RAPIDS site for assistance and have the following ready:
    1. Completed DD Form 1172-2, indicating that sponsor is providing more than 50% support
    2. Proof of enrollment as a full-time student
  2. Incapacitated dependents, contact your nearest RAPIDS site for assistance and have the following ready:
    1. Completed DD Form 1172-2
    2. Medical Sufficiency Statement
    3. Financial Dependency Determination
  3. TRICARE Young Adult, contact your nearest RAPIDS site for assistance and have the following ready:
    1. Completed DD Form 1172-2
    2. Proof of enrollment in TRICARE Young Adult
  • Expired USID card will need to be renewed, reflecting the change of status for the dependent for accessing medical care and installation.
  • After student or incapacitation status is updated in DEERS, take action to ensure TRICARE enrollment is extended.
Guard and reserve members and dependentsBenefits for National Guard and reserve members and their dependents are tied to the member’s active-duty status. If the member’s active-duty status is extended, benefits are extended as well.
  1. If active-duty status is extended, no action is needed.
  2. If active-duty status is completed:
    1. Purchase TRICARE Reserve Select or TRICARE Prime or Select, if eligible, under the Transitional Health Care Program (Also known as TAMP).
  • Member can continue to use current DOD ID card.
  • NOTE: Member with expired CAC or USID card will need to renew their card, including dependent family members with expired USID card.
Retiring service members and dependentsBenefits for members who are retiring and their dependents are tied to the member’s status.
  1. Must enroll in TRICARE Prime or Select.
  2. Can continue to use current DOD ID card.

Staying Vigilant and Keeping Up With Current Guidance When Considering Travel During COVID-19

Military father holding daughter

Current as of July 12, 2021


If you are thinking about traveling, it’s vital to stay up to date about coronavirus-19 disease travel restrictions and regulations.

The Department of Defense and other governmental agencies regularly release current, reliable information about COVID-19. Follow their guidance to keep yourself and others safe and healthy.

Before you travel

The Centers for Disease Control recommends delaying travel until you are fully vaccinated against COVID-19. When you do travel, your leader and medical personnel will conduct a risk assessment of your health and travel itinerary. To be reimbursed for official travel, family members must also undergo a risk assessment.

The risk assessment will evaluate:

  • Whether you have signs of COVID-19 or have had contact with someone who tested positive or who had symptoms within the past 14 days.
  • Whether you are at increased risk of severe illness of COVID-19.
  • That you know what actions to take if you develop symptoms of or test positive for COVID-19.

Travelers must wear face masks on planes, buses, trains and other forms of public transportation. Masks are also required in transportation hubs, such as airports, bus and train stations.

If you are considering travel within the U.S.

When considering whether to travel for nonofficial reasons, equip yourself with the right information to make smart decisions.

  • Check whether travel restrictions have been lifted at your installation. The DOD has lifted travel restrictions where warranted by local conditions. See the DOD’s COVID-19 Travel Restrictions Installation Status Update on its Coronavirus: Latest DOD Guidance page.
  • Find out about infection rates. You may want to reconsider travel if the number of COVID-19 cases is high at home or at your destination. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention keeps an updated list of United States COVID-19 Cases and Deaths by State.
  • Learn about travel restrictions. Some states require travelers from high-risk states to test negative for COVID-19 or quarantine after arrival. If you travel to a state where the infection rate is high, you may have to quarantine or test negative when you return home as well. Find out about the requirements by looking up the health departments of your destination and home state at the CDC’s health department website.

If you are considering travel outside of the U.S.

The risk of COVID-19 differs from country to country. Although fully-vaccinated travelers are less likely to get and spread COVID-19, new or concerning variants may put them at increased risk. Prepare by doing the following:

Before being allowed to return to the U.S., you must test negative for COVID-19 no more than three days before your travel date or have documentation that you recovered from COVID-19 within three months before travel to the U.S. When you return from your trip overseas:

  • Get a viral test three to five days after travel.
  • Self-monitor for COVID-19 symptoms; isolate and get tested if you develop symptoms.
  • Follow all state and local recommendations or requirements after travel.

Ways to stay healthy if you travel

The CDC recommends travelers take the following precautions:

Stay up to date on all the latest information on COVID-19. For Department of Defense updates for the military community regarding the virus that causes COVID-19, view the following sites:

Preventing the Spread of COVID-19 as Travel Restrictions Loosen

Flight check-in with COVID19 precautions

Current as of July 12, 2021


Testing and Surveillance for COVID-19

Learn about the DOD’s expanded testing for coronavirus disease 2019 and other measures to detect the disease early and stop its spread.

Conditions are beginning to improve with regard to the coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic. In response, the Department of Defense is changing its approach to personnel movement and travel.

Officials signed a memo March 15, 2021, to transition to a conditions-based phased approach to the restrictions. Until further notice, the DOD will base decisions on conditions in specific areas. This replaces the broad travel restrictions in place before.

The memo cancels previous travel restrictions and reissues guidance that will remain in effect until further notice.

With restrictions gradually easing, it’s even more important to take every precaution to protect yourself and others when you do travel. And the DOD will continue to work with you to keep you and our community healthy and safe.

Wearing cloth face coverings

While most mask mandates have been lifted for those who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, masks are still required on public transportation and at transportation hubs. Everyone, vaccinated or not, must wear a mask in airports, bus and train stations; and on planes, buses, trains and other forms of public transportation. Follow Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance for wearing cloth face coverings. This can slow the spread of the virus and help people who may unknowingly have it from transmitting it to others.

  • Create your own cloth face coverings using common household items such as T-shirts, scarves and bandanas. Making and using these coverings helps protect public health while reserving critical supplies such as surgical masks and N-95 respirators for medical first responders, as current CDC guidance recommends.
  • Do not place cloth face coverings on children under age 2, anyone who has trouble breathing, is unconscious, incapacitated or otherwise unable to remove the mask without help.
  • Be careful not to touch your eyes, nose or mouth when removing your face covering. Wash your hands as soon as you finish.
  • If you are not fully vaccinated, wear your face covering whenever you are on Department of Defense property, installations (except personal residences) and facilities.
  • All individuals who are not fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and are performing DOD duties, whether on military installations or at other locations (indoor and outdoor), must wear masks, including in common areas, shared workspaces and outdoor shared spaces. Masks must cover the face and nose in compliance with guidance from the CDC. Masks may be removed if an unvaccinated individual:
    • Is working from their home
    • Is alone in an office with floor to ceiling walls and a closed door
    • Is eating or drinking while social distancing (may remove for brief periods of time)
    • Needs to lower the mask for identification or security purposes
    • Needs to lower or remove the mask to reasonably accommodate an individual with a disability

Additional exceptions, categorical or case-by-case, may be granted in writing by DOD Component heads for service members and their families. If granted, exceptions should include appropriate alternative safeguards whenever feasible, such as additional physical distancing measures or additional testing consistent with DOD testing protocols. The authority to grant exceptions for all DOD Components located on the Pentagon Reservation is the interim director of Administration and Management. For all other situations outside of office settings when temporary unmasking is necessary for mission requirements, the authority to grant exceptions may be delegated in writing to officials at a level no lower than a general/flag officer in the grade of 0-7, senior executive service member (or equivalent) or for installations that do not have officials at these levels, 0-6 installation commanders.

Masks recommended by the CDC include:

  • Non-medical disposable masks
  • Masks made with breathable fabric or tightly woven fabric
  • Masks with two or three layers
  • Masks with inner filter pockets.

Unauthorized masks include:

  • Novelty or non-protective masks
  • Masks with ventilation valves
  • Face shields

Preventing the spread of COVID-19 during travel

The Department of Defense is taking steps to protect travelers and others from COVID-19 by:

  • Prescreening service members before travel: Only those who are healthy and least at risk of severe illness from COVID-19 will be allowed to travel
  • Using military and contracted planes for travel to or from overseas locations, when possible
  • Screening all passengers on military flights for signs of illness before they board the plane
  • Screening all service members, family and civilian military employees when they arrive at their duty station after traveling commercially

The screening includes a questionnaire to help determine whether you may have been exposed to COVID-19. Someone will take your temperature and visually check you for signs of illness. There may be additional screenings depending on where you traveled and other risk factors.

Overseas travel

Travelers returning from any overseas location are required to have a negative COVID-19 test result no more than three days before travel, or documentation of recovery from COVID-19 in the past three months before boarding a flight to the United States.

After travel:

  • Get a viral test three to five days after travel.
  • Self-monitor for COVID-19 symptoms; isolate and get tested if you develop symptoms.
  • Follow all state and local recommendations or requirements after travel.

If you have not been vaccinated against COVID-19, get a viral test three to five days after travel and self-quarantine for seven days. If you do not get tested for COVID-19, self-quarantine for 10 days after travel.

See all CDC recommendations for international travel during COVID-19.

What you can do

Everyone has a role in stopping the spread of COVID-19. Do your part and keep yourself and your family safe by getting vaccinated against COVID-19. When you are traveling, keep your command updated on your itinerary. If you feel sick, stay home. Notify your leadership and call your doctor.

Even if you haven’t traveled and you feel fine, practice social distancing and wear your cloth face covering if you are not fully vaccinated against COVID-19. Keep at least six feet away from others. Avoid crowds and wash your hands often. Social distancing combined with mask wearing, avoiding touching your face and frequent hand-washing will assist in defending the force against COVID-19 while protecting the nation. COVID-19 is one of the deadliest threats our nation has ever faced. As we have done throughout our history, the military will rise to this challenge. It is imperative that we do all we can to ensure the health and safety of our force, our families and our communities so we can prevail in this fight.

Understanding of COVID-19 continues to change, so continue to check our Coronavirus Updates for Our Military Community page for updates.

Want to find the phone number for your installation’s housing office or Military and Family Support Center? Find those and more on MilitaryINSTALLATIONS, an online information directory for military installations worldwide.

For updates and information specific to your location, visit your installation’s official website. You can also follow your installation’s Facebook, Twitter or Instagram platforms. For Department of Defense updates for the military community:

Staying Healthy During COVID-19

Service member with face mask

Current as of July 12, 2021


It’s normal to cut corners when engaging in everyday activities, especially when you’re comfortable with the task. But to avoid putting yourself and your family at risk during coronavirus disease 2019, examine your habits to make sure you’re not cutting corners on your health.

Perhaps the most important factor when it comes to your habits during this time is to avoid spreading germs.

Keep calm with COVID Coach

This app can help you cope with pandemic-related stress. It’s free, secure and recommended by the Department of Defense.

For specific guidance on everything from vaccinations and personal hygiene to keeping your home clean and avoiding contact with others, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is a great resource.

But maintaining good health during the COVID-19 pandemic means getting vaccinated, following guidance for covering your face in public and considering paying extra attention to your eating habits, exercise and personal schedule.

With that in mind, here are some things to consider:

Get vaccinated against COVID-19

The CDC has recommended everyone ages 12 and older get a COVID-19 vaccine. Here’s why:

  • Getting vaccinated is the best way to protect yourself, your loved ones and your community. The vaccine works with your immune system so it will be ready to fight the virus if you’re exposed. If you do get COVID-19, the vaccine will help you from getting seriously ill.
  • COVID-19 vaccines are safe. Each of the available vaccines for COVID-19 were developed using science that has been around for decades. The vaccines went through all the required stages of clinical trials and have been shown to be safe and effective. Additionally, COVID-19 vaccines have received and continue to undergo the most intensive safety monitoring in U.S. history.
  • The vaccine is a key tool to help stop the pandemic. When enough people are vaccinated, it becomes harder for COVID-19 to spread from person to person. This protects the entire population, including those who cannot be vaccinated, like newborns and those who are allergic to the vaccine.
  • The vaccine is a safe way to build immunity without getting sick. People who recover after being sick with COVID-19 have natural immunity to the disease. However, it’s not clear how long that protection lasts. The CDC recommends the vaccine even for those who have been sick with COVID-19.
  • You can resume many activities once fully vaccinated. It takes your body two weeks after being vaccinated to develop the antibodies that fight COVID-19. Once you are fully vaccinated, you can go out in public without a mask or having to social distance except where required by law or regulations.

Visit the TRICARE website to schedule a vaccination appointment or use the Defense Health Agency’s Appointing Portal to book your appointment at a DOD COVID-19 vaccination site.

Wear cloth face coverings if you are not vaccinated

The Department of Defense requires unvaccinated personnel to wear face coverings and to social distance while on the installation and during official duties outside the home. All DOD personnel should continue to comply with CDC guidance regarding areas where masks should be worn, including within airports.

These practices can slow the spread of the virus and help people who may unknowingly have it from transmitting it to others. The CDC recommends masks for unvaccinated adults and children ages 2 and up that:

  • Are non-medical and disposable
  • Are made with breathable or tightly-woven fabric
  • Have two or three layers
  • Include a filter pocket

The DOD does not authorize the use of novelty masks, masks with ventilation valves or face shields.

Be careful not to touch your eyes, nose or mouth when removing your face covering. Wash your hands as soon as you finish.

Be good to your body

Keep yourself healthy with the following activities:

  • Get moving. Reach out to a Military OneSource health and wellness coach to develop an exercise plan just for you with the equipment you have at home. You can make an appointment for a phone, online or video session by calling Military OneSource at 800-342-9647. OCONUS/International? Click here for calling options.
  • Keep your bedtime the same. It’s tempting to binge watch your favorite shows late into the night if you are not currently reporting to work or if you are working from home, but resist that urge. Sleep helps restore and relax your mind and body. A good sleep routine keeps you healthy.
  • Eat regular, nutritious meals with your family. Teach your children how to stay healthy by choosing healthy meals. Show them how to plan a meal, cook it, set the table and clean up after. Family meals are a great time to bond and get to know each other better, not to mention staying healthy.
  • Order medications online. Order your medications online to avoid contact with people who may have the virus. Here’s how to get home delivery for medications under TRICARE.

Be kind to your mind

Mental health is just as important as physical health. Here are a few ways to stay informed with updates on safety while keeping current events in perspective.

  • Engage your mind in your favorite activities. Schedule time for yourself to participate in the activities you enjoy the most. Whatever your thing is — reading a book, painting, playing an instrument or streaming your favorite music, dancing, writing, singing, etc. — do it, enjoy it and you’ll feel better for it.
  • Avoid information overload. Watching or reading too much negative news can increase anxiety. Instead, limit the time you take in negative news and use the extra time to fill yourself with something positive like writing down all you are grateful for or using these other tips for emotional wellness.
  • Practice self-care. Plug into tools to help you de-stress and take care of yourself. The Defense Health Agency recommends several: Chill Drills is a collection of free simple audio exercises to help you de-stress while Breathe2Relax trains you on deep-breathing techniques. They are among several you’ll find on the Military OneSource Recommended Wellness Apps page. The Military Meditation Coach podcast provides relaxation exercises and tips for well-being.
  • Help others. Helping others will bring you happiness. Consider surprising a neighbor by doing their yard work or leaving groceries on their porch (while keeping your social distance).
  • Ask for help if you or your family need it.  Military OneSource confidential, non-medical counselors are here for you. Check out Address That Stress to learn how non-medical counseling works and all the ways it can help you. If you or a family member are having suicidal thoughts, call the Military Crisis line at 800-273-8255, press 1; text to 838255; or start a confidential chat. If you find yourself in a dangerous, abusive situation, contact command, the Family Advocacy Program or law enforcement. If you or someone else is in immediate danger, call 911. Except in select circumstances, you have the option of making either a restricted or unrestricted report of domestic abuse. Both options allow access to victim advocacy services, which include personal help and support.
  • Seek reliable information. Look for sites that provide factual and frequently-updated information such as the CDC.

Stay up to date on all the latest information on COVID-19. For Department of Defense updates for the military community regarding the virus that causes COVID-19, view the following sites:

More Parenting Resources for Managing at Home During COVID-19

A woman sits with her children on a sofa.

Current as of July 12, 2021


The coronavirus pandemic continues to be a challenge. Many parents are still working from home, children are on modified school schedules, and the continued disruptions and vigilance can be exhausting.

Military OneSource is committed to helping you find the resources you need to stay the course. Take advantage of the expanded hourly child care service. Add some new activities to your toolkit. Try some apps for self-care. And reach out for support if you need it. Military OneSource consultants are available 24/7/365 to help you and your family find the resources you need to meet the current challenges

Expanded hourly child care service

To support the growing needs of military families, the Department of Defense has expanded child care options. Through Military OneSource, military families now have free access to a national database of more than a million caregivers so they can find hourly, flexible and on-demand child care. The nationally recognized subscription service lets you:

  • Search for potential caregivers based on your own needs and criteria
  • Check references, review background checks and conduct interviews
  • Choose, hire and pay providers on your terms

The service is easy to access and available online for your convenience. For more information, and to register, visit the Military OneSource Expanded Hourly Child Care Options web page.

CDC resources

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provide updated advice on a variety of current parenting topics including:

  • Daily Activities and Going Out – includes advice for dining out at restaurants, playing sports, hosting and attending gatherings, and more
  • Travel – offers information on air, train, bus and car travel, links to daily state case numbers and recommendations for destinations around the world
  • COVID-19 Parental Resources Kit – provides specific tips for promoting social, emotional and mental health of children in age groups 0-5, 6-12, 13-17 and 18-24 years

Activities resources

For preschool age children:

For youth and teens:

Resilience resources

Military families know that life challenges can inspire us to be our best selves. This time at home lets us practice stress-management skills and try new tools. The following resources can help build resilience:

Stay up to date on all the latest information on COVID-19. For updates and information specific to your location, visit your installation’s official website. You can also follow your installation’s Facebook, Twitter or Instagram platforms. For Department of Defense updates for the military community, visit Defense.gov, follow Military OneSource’s Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram platforms, and continue to check the Coronavirus Updates for Our Military Community page for updates.

How to Keep Family Stress Away While Everyone Is Home

Family of three doing crafts together

Current as of June 16, 2021


You’ve got experience adapting to unexpected changes in your military life. And that “roll-with-it” attitude will guide you as you help your family learn ways to reduce stress and build resiliency while spending more time together during the 2019 coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19). Localities may have lifted some restrictions, but quarantines could be reinstated to stop the spread of the virus and its variants. Here are some ways to deal with the pressures of sheltering in place and adjusting to changing health guidelines.

Keep calm with COVID Coach

This app can help you cope with pandemic-related stress. It’s free, secure and recommended by the Department of Defense.

Need More Parenting Resources During COVID-19?

You may be looking for new ideas for managing children at home during the pandemic. Try this updated list of extensive parenting resources.

Stay calm

The uncertainty surrounding COVID-19 can increase the stress on your family. Focus on what you can control by employing some of the following strategies:

  • Lead by example. Your children are watching how you handle the quarantine, and they will pick up on your stress. Do your best to model healthy ways to handle stress by using coping skills when you feel tension building up.
  • Limit exposure to news sources. Reduce your anxiety by setting daily limits on the time you spend watching or reading the news. Start with 10 minutes a day and adjust depending on what works for you. Follow these stress relief tips throughout the day and share them with your family.
  • Keep your children informed. Ask your children what they know about the coronavirus and what they are concerned about. Talk with your children about COVID-19 and provide age-appropriate, reliable information. Help clear up any misunderstandings they may have and stay focused on the positive.
  • Engage in relaxation techniques. Find a quiet place at home, get comfortable and try this Chill Drill designed for service members and families.
  • Stick to a schedule. Structure can bring you a sense of calm and certainty during this uncertain time. If you are working from home, here are some Tips for Teleworking During the Outbreak of COVID-19.

Stay connected

Family, friends and your military community can provide support and strength at times like this. Consider these ideas to stay connected while keeping your distance.

  • Remain in touch with family and friends. Schedule time to connect with family and friends through virtual coffee dates, dinner parties or casual catch-up sessions using video chat apps or phone calls. Bring back the art of handwritten letters and include your children, perhaps showing off their artwork. You’ll brighten peoples’ day with mail from your family.
  • Flex your muscles together. Exercise is a huge stress reducer. Engage the family in a game of tag or by taking turns creating balance challenges and scoring it like a game of H-O-R-S-E. Create an obstacle course in the house or yard and time each other as you run, walk, crab walk, walk backward or skip through the course. Be creative. Go on a “Simon Says” walk around the house or yard and take turns being the leader.
  • Use your military community resources. If finances are causing you stress, review your options on Military OneSource. There are different relief organizations that may be able to address your specific situation.
  • Read together. Couch cuddles while reading to your children can build great memories. You can also use reading as quiet time – something you all do from separate rooms to give everyone space to relax. Use your MWR Digital Library for video books that read to children or e-books for older youth and adults.
  • Make dinner a group effort. Connect with your children by having them help with planning and cooking dinner as well as setting and clearing the table and washing and drying the dishes. Doing these activities together teaches them life skills and, more importantly, creates a space for them to talk about whatever is on their minds. They may talk more when doing tasks beside you than talking face-to-face.

Military families tend to be resilient. Keep reaching toward your family and military community for support and know that Military OneSource is always here to serve and support you.

Stay current

Stay up to date on the latest information regarding COVID-19. Select legitimate news sources that provide facts and not escalating drama. For Department of Defense updates for the military community regarding the virus that causes COVID-19, view the following sites:

It is natural for all relationships to feel tested during an emergency or crisis. If your spouse or partner has made you feel unsafe or afraid, help is available through the Family Advocacy Program. Speak to a victim advocate to explore next steps, or call or chat with the National Domestic Violence Hotline 24/7 at 800-799-7233 or thehotline.org.

Resources for Military Parents As COVID-19 Continues

Grade school aged child focused on school work

Current as of June 1, 2021


Parents are facing a variety of new and ongoing challenges as the COVID-19 pandemic continues. Virus conditions keep changing, and work and school schedules vary. It’s easy to feel stressed about making the best choices for your family and bogged down by decision fatigue.

Military OneSource is committed to helping families thrive during these challenging times. Whether you are looking for flexible child care, virtual activities for children, tips for taking care of yourself and your family or official updates from government agencies, we’ve got you covered. Check out the following resources.

My MilLife Guide

New text program sends “GuideTips” to help you beat stress and meet goals.

Parenting resources:

Well-being resources:

Official COVID-19 update resources:

For Department of Defense COVID-19 updates for the military community regarding the virus that causes COVID-19:

If you have questions about COVID-19 issues or any other aspect of military life, Military OneSource consultants are available 24/7/365. Call 800-342-9647, use OCONUS dialing options or schedule a live chat.

Understanding of COVID-19 continues to change, so check our Coronavirus Updates for Our Military Community page often.

Want to find the phone number for your installation’s housing office or Military and Family Support Center? Find those and more on MilitaryINSTALLATIONS, an online information directory for military installations worldwide.

For updates and information specific to your location, visit your installation’s official website. You can also follow your installation’s Facebook, Twitter or Instagram platforms.