The Joint Services Transcript for Military Personnel

Service members looking at map

When you convert your military experience into civilian college credit, you save time and money on your education. The Joint Services Transcript provides documented evidence to colleges and universities of professional military education, training and occupation experiences achieved by service members and veterans.

The JST translates military experience into civilian language and:

  • Gives potential employers a chance to see the real-world value of your experience
  • Allows academic counselors a better understanding of a military member’s skills
  • Saves time and money by awarding academic credits for military experience

The Joint Services Transcript is a collaborative program that replaces previous transcript programs. The JST describes your military schooling and work history in civilian terms, as a standard form, making it easier for colleges to read and recommend credits.

JST eligibility and access

Military members in the Army, Marine Corps, Navy and Coast Guard who are active duty, reserve duty or veterans are eligible for the JST.

Follow these steps to obtain and access your JST:

  • Register for an account.
  • Click on the “Transcripts” link and view, print or save your unofficial transcripts.
  • You can also click on “Official Transcript Request” and complete the form to have your official transcripts sent to your desired institution at no cost.

Air Force members should contact the Community College of the Air Force for transcripts. You can order an official transcript through the Air University or the CCAF Online Transcript System.

Convert your military experience into civilian terms and college credit through the Joint Services Transcript.

Family Readiness System

Family Readiness System

The Family Readiness System is defined as the network of agencies, programs, services, and individuals, and the collaboration among them, that promotes the readiness and quality of life of service members and their families. For the Family Readiness System to be fully realized, Department of Defense asks that everyone who provides these services view themselves as part of the overall system.

The Family Readiness System supports every service member and family member, regardless of activation status or location, in person, by phone and online.

The Family Readiness System is made up of many organizations delivering a vast array of services; some of these organizations are part of the Department of Defense, some are other federal, state and local government organizations. They may function at the national state or local community level.

What services are available through the Family Readiness System?

The following services are available through the Military and Family Support Center Family Readiness System.

Additional services, which vary by access point, may be offered to meet the unique needs of your installation or community:

  • Mobility and deployment assistance — Services designed to help you adjust to all phases of the deployment cycle
  • Relocation assistance — Information and education to help with questions related to permanent change of station moves, including moving costs, housing options, spouse employment opportunities, schools, community orientation and much more
  • Personal financial management — Services that provide tools and information to help you achieve financial goals and address financial challenges (Topics include consumer education, budgeting and debt liquidation, retirement planning, savings and investment counseling.)
  • Spouse education and career services — Services include career exploration opportunities, education and training, employment readiness assistance and employment connections
  • Family life education — Education and enrichment services that focus on helping families build and maintain healthy relationships and strengthen problem-solving skills
  • Emergency family assistance — Services that promote short- and long-term recovery and the return to a stable environment after an emergency
  • Domestic abuse prevention and response services — Education, support services and treatment to help promote healthy and safe intimate relationships, reduce the occurrence of domestic abuse and address domestic abuse when it occurs
  • Child abuse prevention and response services — Services that help promote positive parent-child relationships, prevent child abuse and address abuse when it occurs
  • New parent support — Services designed to help new parents adapt to parenthood, including playgroups, classes and access to books, booklets and other written materials on parenting
  • Exceptional Family Member Program support — For families with special needs, education and assistance related to the Exceptional Family Member Program enrollment and assignment coordination process, non-clinical case management and relocation support
  • Non-medical individual and family counseling — Short-term, confidential non-medical counseling services to address topics related to personal growth and positive functioning
  • Transition assistance — Services that prepare separating service members and their families to re-enter civilian life
  • Information and referral — Information designed to help you become familiar with and access the range of services available through the Family Readiness System

How do I access services?

You can visit, call or log on to one of the Family Readiness System access points listed below. Regardless of your service branch or geographic location, you will have access to helpful support and resources. If the access point you choose does not have what you need, simply request help finding it. Family Readiness System access points include:

Installation-based Military and Family Support Centers

Installation-based Military and Family Support Centers are a one-stop-shop for family readiness information and services. Centers are open to all service members and their families, regardless of the service member’s branch. Find your local installation’s center by visiting MilitaryINSTALLATIONS or the links below. Each branch of service uses a service-unique name for this access point:

 

Reserve Component Family Programs

Reserve Component Family Programs deliver family readiness services through facility-based locations, online and by telephone. While these access points deliver a limited number of direct services to members and their families, they can readily refer you to other Family Readiness System resources. Find your Reserve Component Family Program by visiting the links below:

 

Community organizations

Non-military community organizations that support military families are also considered a part of the Family Readiness System, as they play a key role in providing the services you need for everyday life. Your local access points, Military and Family Support Center, National Guard and Reserve Component Family Program and Military OneSource, can also connect you to other approved providers, offering services in your local community.

Morale, Welfare and Recreation: Your Source for Affordable Fun

group of people in recreation center pool

Military life has many demands, so Morale, Welfare and Recreation staff want to help you make the most of your free time. MWR is the military’s network of support and leisure programs for service members. On base or off, Morale, Welfare and Recreation provides lots of ways for you to connect with friends and others for entertainment, rest and relaxation — all at reduced or no cost.

R&R on the installation

At military installations around the world, you’ll find a lot to do and enjoy, including:

  • Swimming pools: Cool off and relax with recreational swimming. Sign up for swimming lessons, or join an aquatic fitness class for aerobic, low-impact workouts.
  • Bowling facilities: Get a few friends together for a few games or buddy-up by joining a league.
  • Golf courses: From nine holes to full-scale, PGA-quality links, installation golf courses offer fun and fitness at affordable prices. Some locations also offer driving ranges, putting greens and lessons.
  • Recreation centers: Many centers help you connect with family and friends with free Wi-Fi and computer use. Or unwind with billiards, air hockey, foosball, table tennis, Xbox, PlayStations and board games. You’ll also find a large library of movies and big-screen TVs to watch them on.
  • Trails: Morale, Welfare and Recreation staff can recommend great local trails where you can hike, bike or take a relaxing walk in nature.
  • Auto skills centers: Most installations have Automotive Skills Centers where you can maintain or repair your vehicle. For a minimal fee, you can use work bays, vehicle lifts, and a broad selection of tools, and get advice from certified mechanics.
  • Libraries: Check out a bestseller, read a magazine article or study for an upcoming test with library resources. Visit your installation library or log on to your Military OneSource account to access the MWR Digital Library from anywhere in the world.
  • Movie theaters: See the latest movies at prices lower than those at the commercial chains. Now showing: all your favorite genres and some in 3D.
  • Outdoor and recreation rental centers: Need outdoor gear for a few hours or a few days? Rental centers offer campers, canoes and kayaks, canopy tents, tables and chairs, grills, garden equipment and much more.

See what Morale, Welfare and Recreation offers at your own installation.

R&R off the installation

Off-base adventures start with your installation’s Information, Tickets and Travel office and the outdoor recreation office. They’ll give you the scoop on sporting events, theme parks, aquariums, zoos, historical sites and other attractions, both near and far. They’re also good for discount tickets and vacation planning services.

Be sure to check out these great off-base opportunities:

Remember, each service branch has its own Morale, Welfare and Recreation program. See what’s in store for you:

Morale, Welfare and Recreation is your destination for entertainment, rest and relaxation on or off the installation. Visit your local office for more information or call Military OneSource at 800-342-9647.

Managing Your Money as a New Service Member

Man in a military uniform shows a stack of twenty dollar bills.

You’re learning a lot of new skills in the military, and money management should be one of them. As a service member, you may earn more, get special duty pay or have new expenses. It’s your money. Make the most of it by creating a financial plan. Staying on top of your finances is important for your security clearance, your career and your future.

Do a budget for yourself

Pay Raise for 2020

Military personnel are receiving a 3.1% increase in their basic pay in 2020. This raise is for both active-duty and reserve service members.

Good financial management starts with writing a budget. Seek advice from one of the military’s no-cost personal financial counselors. If you have a family, get their input and set priorities. This will give family members a clear view of income and expenses.

Before you write a budget, you need to know your income. Check out the Department of Defense’s active-duty basic pay tables or log into myPay to see what you have to work with.

Save money every day

Make sure to track your spending and save where you can. Your weekly trips to the coffee shop can add up quickly. Here are a few ways to save money immediately:

  • Elect to save with the Thrift Savings Plan. Stash some money away in this defined contribution plan. How much you receive when you retire depends on how much you put into your account during your working years, so it’s a good idea to funnel as much as you can into this plan.
  • Eat out less frequently. Invite friends over for a potluck dinner instead of a more expensive meal out. Cook for yourself instead of eating takeout.
  • Avoid impulse buys. Force yourself to wait a week and see if you can live without the item you want or if you can find it cheaper somewhere else.
  • Take advantage of military discounts. Get discounts on insurance, travel, dining out, sporting events and recreation to name just a few.
  • Don’t pay full price. Shop at outlets or during sales. Take advantage of online discounts. Get the best prices and tax-free shopping at your local exchange and commissary.
  • Use the library for free books, music, magazines and videos. You can also find many of these same items for no cost at centers for single service members on your installation.
  • Use the on-base gym and Morale Welfare and Recreation facilities at no cost. It’s cheaper than joining a health club, and the workout is just as good.
  • Check the local or installation newspaper for free activities. Your installation Morale, Welfare and Recreation clubs may offer specials as well.

Look at the big picture

It’s also important to take a long view when creating your budget, making decisions about using credit and preparing for financial emergencies. The goal is to save enough money to ensure a bright financial future. Here are some tips for saving money over the long haul:

  • Make sure you’re getting free checking. If you are paying bank fees, find a bank with a better offer. If you’re on an installation, consult the installation bank and credit union.
  • Use your bank card only at no-fee ATM machines. Or open an account with a bank that pays other banks’ fees for using their ATMs. Many stores also give you the option of getting $20, $40 or another amount in cash back with debit card purchases.
  • Get rid of any credit cards with annual fees. Avoid interest charges by paying off balances each month. Never get caught by late fees.
  • Raise the deductible on your car insurance and lower your monthly payment. Just make sure you’ve saved enough money to cover the higher deductible.
  • Shop for the best deals on cell phone service, car insurance and other services. Be careful of long-term contracts that may leave you stuck if you move or deploy.
  • Turn off lights and lower heat or air conditioning settings when you’re not home. Check your windows and doors for drafts and put some insulation around areas where you feel cold or warm air.

Pay off your debt

Use that extra money you saved with the tips above to pay off your debt:

  • Acknowledge that you have debt issues. Commit to fixing them.
  • Stop spending. Take your credit cards, store cards and gas cards out of your wallet and put them in a secure location at home or cut them up.
  • Make a spending plan. Stick to it to avoid incurring additional debt.
  • Pay down your debts month by month and pay them off one by one. Make a list of the debt payments you owe each month, including the annual interest rate on each card. Then prioritize according to interest rate. Over time, you’ll get your debts paid off.

How to Use the Military Tuition Assistance Program

A row of graduates sit in the caps and gowns

If you’ve thought about going to college, but didn’t know if you could afford it, then the Military Tuition Assistance program may be just the benefit you need. The program is available to active duty, National Guard and Reserve Component service members. While the decision to pursue a degree may be a difficult one personally, TA can lessen your financial concerns considerably, since it now pays up to 100% of tuition expenses for semester hours costing $250 or less.

Courses and degree programs may be academic or technical and can be taken from two- or four-year institutions on-installation, off-installation or by distance learning. An accrediting body recognized by the Department of Education must accredit the institution. Your service branch pays your tuition directly to the school. Service members need to first check with an education counselor for the specifics involving TA by visiting their local installation education office or by going online to a virtual education center. Tuition assistance may be used for the following programs:

  • Vocational/technical programs
  • Undergraduate programs
  • Graduate programs
  • Independent study
  • Distance-learning programs

Eligibility

All four service branches and the U.S. Coast Guard offer financial assistance for voluntary, off-duty education programs in support of service members’ personal and professional goals. The program is open to officers, warrant officers and enlisted active-duty service personnel. In addition, members of the National Guard and Reserve Components may be eligible for TA based on their service eligibility. To be eligible for TA, an enlisted service member must have enough time remaining in service to complete the course for which he or she has applied. After the completion of a course, an officer using TA must fulfill a service obligation that runs parallel with – not in addition to – any existing service obligation.

Coverage amounts and monetary limits

The Tuition Assistance Program may fund up to 100% of your college tuition and certain fees with the following limits

  • Not to exceed $250 per semester credit hour or $166 per quarter credit hour
  • Not to exceed $4,500 per fiscal year, Oct. 1 through Sept. 30

Tuition assistance versus the Department of Veterans Affairs education benefits

While the TA program is offered by the services, the Department of Veterans Affairs administers a variety of education benefit programs. Some of the VA programs, such as the Post-9/11 Veterans Education Assistance Act of 2008, also known as the Post-9/11 GI Bill, can work well with the TA program, as it can supplement fees not covered by TA. In addition, the Post-9/11 GI Bill® funds are available to you after you leave the military. If your service ended before Jan. 1, 2013, you have 15 years to use this benefit. If your service ended on or after Jan. 1, 2013, the benefit won’t expire. The TA program is a benefit that is available only while you’re in the service.

Tuition assistance benefits and restrictions

Tuition assistance will cover the following expenses:

  • Tuition
  • Course-specific fees such as laboratory fee or online course fee

NOTE: All fees must directly relate to the specific course enrollment of the service member.

Tuition assistance will not cover the following expenses:

  • Books and course materials
  • Flight training fees
  • Taking the same course twice
  • Continuing education units, or CEUs

Keep in mind that TA will not fund your college courses, and you will have to reimburse any funds already paid, if any of the following situations occur:

  • Leaving the service before the course ends
  • Quitting the course for reasons other than personal illness, military transfer or mission requirements
  • Failing the course

Application process

Each military branch has its own TA application form and procedures. To find out how to get started, visit your local installation education center, go online to a virtual education center or click on the following links for each service branch:

Prior to your course enrollment, you may be required to develop an education plan or complete TA orientation. Be sure to keep the following important information in mind when you apply:

  • Military tuition assistance may only be used to pursue degree programs at colleges and universities in the United States that are regionally or nationally accredited by an accrediting body recognized by the U.S Department of Education. A quick way to check the accreditation of a school is by visiting the Department of Education.
  • Your service’s education center must approve your military tuition assistance before you enroll in a course.

Top-up program

The Top-up program allows funds from the Montgomery GI Bill — Active Duty or the Post-9/11 GI Bill – to be used for tuition and fees for high-cost courses that are not fully covered by TA funds.

  • Eligibility. To use Top-up, your service branch must approve you for TA. You also must be eligible for the Post-9/11 GI Bill or the Montgomery GI Bill — Active Duty.
  • Application. First apply for TA in accordance with procedures of your service branch. After you have applied for TA, you will need to complete VA Form 22-1990 to apply for Department of Veterans Affairs education benefits. The form is available online from the VA. Make sure you specify “Top-up” on the application and mail it to one of the education processing offices listed on the form.

Other supplemental funding possibilities

Aside from using the MGIB-AD or Post-9/11 GI Bill for items such as tuition and fees not covered by TA, there are other funding opportunities available to service members, including the following:

  • Federal and state financial aid. The federal government provides $150 billion per year in grants, work-study programs and federal loans to college students. The aid comes in several forms, including need-based programs such as Pell grants, subsidized Stafford Loans, Supplemental Educational Opportunity grants and federal work/study programs. You can also get low-interest loans through the federal government. Visit Federal Student Aid to find out more or complete an online application for FAFSA at no cost to you.

Power of Attorney Basics

Power of attorney paperwork

The information contained on this website is designed to educate and inform service members and their families on their personal legal affairs. Nothing contained in the website is a substitute for the competent legal advice of a licensed attorney. Service members and their families seeking legal advice should consult the staff of the nearest installation Legal Assistance Office.

A power of attorney is a written document that gives one person the authority to act on another’s behalf for any legal or economic issues for a specified time. You can tailor your powers of attorney for any situation, choosing between a general power of attorney or a special power of attorney, and whether the power of attorney is durable or not. If you’re married, both you and your spouse should designate a power of attorney prior to your deployment; assistance is available at most installation legal assistance offices.

  • General power of attorney — A general power of attorney gives the person you designate the power to perform almost any legal act on your behalf for a specified time. This can include managing bank accounts; selling, exchanging, buying or investing any assets or property; purchasing and maintaining insurance; and entering into any binding contracts. Because the authority granted is broad, give this type of power of attorney only if a special power of attorney won’t suffice and if the person you choose is trustworthy and financially responsible.
  • Special or limited power of attorney — A special or limited power of attorney gives specific powers to the designated person for a specified time. When drafting a special power of attorney, you’re required to list the particular decisions over which the designee has power.
  • Durable power of attorney — A durable power of attorney remains valid even if you become incapacitated or unable to handle your own affairs. If you don’t specify a durable power of attorney, it’ll automatically end if you’re incapacitated in the future. A general or special power of attorney can be durable with appropriate language. This eliminates the need for a court to choose a guardian and conservator to make decisions on your behalf during your incapacity.

Benefits of a power of attorney for your spouse

Providing a power of attorney to your spouse, parent or trusted friend can help ensure he or she can address whatever needs to be done on your behalf while you are away:

  • Access family finances — By providing your spouse a power of attorney, you can ensure access to your bank accounts and financial information.
  • Pay taxes and receive tax refunds — Even if you deploy, you have to file a federal and state income tax return, unless you get an extension. The Internal Revenue Service generally requires your and your spouse’s signatures to file income tax returns and to access refunds. For your spouse to be able to file a joint income tax return during your deployment without a power of attorney, you will need to complete IRS Form 2848, “Power of Attorney and Declaration of Representation.”
  • Receive emergency financial assistance — Each of the service branches offers emergency financial assistance through their respective relief organizations.
  • Receive government housing — If your family is on the waiting list for government housing when you deploy, you should notify the installation housing office before your deployment. If you give your spouse power of attorney — and give a copy to the installation housing office — before your deployment, your spouse and children may be able to accept and move into government housing.
  • Enroll newborn children in the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System — TRICARE Prime automatically covers your newborn baby for 120 days. To continue coverage after 120 days, enroll him or her through the installation ID card center. Your spouse must have either a general or a special power of attorney.

Terminating powers of attorney

You can revoke a power of attorney at any time as long as you’re mentally competent. When drafting the original document, you may consider limiting its length so it automatically revokes upon your return from deployment. To revoke a power of attorney before its expiration, you can consult a legal assistance attorney to execute a revocation.

The information contained on this website is designed to educate and inform service members and their families on their personal legal affairs. Nothing contained in the website is a substitute for the competent legal advice of a licensed attorney. Service members and their families seeking legal advice should consult the staff of the nearest installation Legal Assistance Office.

Sending a Military Care Package: What You Need to Know

Service member smiles as he reads a holiday card received in a care package.

Military care packages deliver a welcome piece of home to your service member while they’re away – whether that’s your child, fiancé, sibling or friend. They help both of you stay connected despite distance or duty.

Here are some appropriate ways to send those care packages to your service member throughout their time in the military.

Get Connected to Military Life: Official eNewsletter

Keep in touch with the cadence of military life, understand its rich traditions and learn ways to support your service member with the Friends & Family Connection eNewsletter.

Care packages during boot camp? Letters are better.

When your recruit first left for basic training, you may have noticed that they only took a few things with them. This is because the military provides everything recruits need during boot camp, from meals and housing to basics like toothbrushes or socks. Duplicates from home are stored and only retrieved after graduation.

That’s why most service branches discourage care packages for recruits in boot camp. In fact, receiving an unauthorized care package may result in a punishment from the drill instructor for their entire unit. So, it’s better to wait until your recruit finishes basic before you send any packages.

Ordinary mail, however, is always allowed. A letter from home can encourage your recruit during the demands of basic training.

If you do send a letter, use a plain piece of paper and an envelope. It’s okay to send photos, but don’t do things like decorating the envelope – it could cause unwanted attention for your recruit. Plan on two weeks for letter delivery, so time letters to arrive before graduation. Think twice about texting, sending digital cards or email, as your service member will have very limited use of a cell phone, if at all. Use of cell phones is dictated by service branch and drill sergeants.

After boot camp is the time to send military care packages.

Service members who have finished basic training or are on deployment generally have more freedom to receive care packages. Sending a military care package is a great way to show your appreciation and love for your service member and all they do for our country.

If you are a parent or other relative, consider sending the music, toiletries, foods and treats your service member likes best. If you are in a relationship with a service member, think about sending notes, cards and small items that remind them how much you care. And, of course, photos from home are always welcome.

Here are some military care package ideas that are appreciated by service members:

  • Necessities, such as sunblock, socks, underwear, flip-flops, lip balm and powder
  • Snacks, including chips, salsa, nuts, cookies, beef jerky, non-melting candy and trail mix in packaging that isn’t easily crushed. Drink mixes in single-serving packets are also a good addition.
  • Homemade foods: The most popular items are cookies and “cake in a jar,” which is a cake baked in a canning jar. Again, the key is sturdy packaging to prevent crushing.
  • Games, such as playing cards/poker chips, crosswords or puzzle books.
  • Stationery is a must if you want to receive any letters from your service member. Send paper, envelopes, address labels and pens, but skip the stamps. They won’t need them.
  • Photos and notes that show your support and affection. Maybe get a daily tear-off calendar and write an encouraging note on each page.

Once you know what you want to send, follow these tips to make sure your military care package arrives in good condition:

  • Seal everything: Individually seal items in plastic bags with zip locks, if possible, to protect items from the elements or to keep them from leaking out.
  • Use sturdy packaging: The best packaging is a free Military Care Kit from the U.S. Postal Service, which includes priority mail boxes, tape, custom forms and address labels. The packaging is free, but the postage is not.
  • Provide accurate shipping information: Include your service member’s unit, last and first name, title, DPO/FPO/APO and full ZIP code.
  • Take advantage of reduced postage for military mail: You only have to provide standard domestic postage on mail going to an APO or FPO address. For example, if you pay $5 to mail a package in the continental United States, it costs the same to mail it overseas as long as you have an APO / FPO / DPO address and associated ZIP code.
  • Complete the customs forms: You need to fill out customs forms for any shipping outside the United States. Customs forms are included with Military Care Kits or can be found on the USPS website.
  • Consider shipping time: Most care packages can make it to the Middle East in about two weeks, but some take longer. For holidays, allow about five weeks for delivery.
  • Be careful what you send: Check the post office’s prohibited items list to keep items from being rejected. Remember that sometimes packages from home get opened by someone before your service member, so don’t send anything you don’t want strangers to see. Also, don’t send things that are valuable or can’t be replaced – sometimes packages get lost.

Care packages are always good, but sometimes a service member may need a bit more, whether it’s help with taxes as Tax Day approaches or talking with someone who can listen. Do you know that active-duty, National Guard and reserve service members have access to a wide range of individualized consultations, coaching and other services? This includes relationship and peer-to-peer counseling to tax preparation and financial services to wellness coaches and more. It’s all free and available 24/7 through Military OneSource.

Marine Study Finds EFMP Enrollment Does Not Negatively Impact Military Careers

Marine is meritoriously promoted by staff sergeant.

Good news: Enrollment in the Exceptional Family Member Program, or EFMP, does not negatively affect career progress and promotion, according to a study conducted by the Marine Corps Operational Analysis Division.

The study compared the individual career progress of those enrolled in EFMP to non-enrollees, and confirmed that the program succeeds in its mission to support individual, family and unit readiness without impeding Marines’ career progression.

Purpose of the EFMP study

A 2011 Naval Audit Service Report found that 30 percent of Marines believed that enrollment in the Exceptional Family Member Program negatively affected a service member’s career progression and promotion, with a substantial negative stigma associated with enrollment.

Therefore, a study was needed to examine whether there was any evidence that validated the stereotype that Marines who enrolled in EFMP would be held back in their military careers.

Using the most rigorous analysis available, the study determined there is little evidence of any negative impact on career progression and promotion due to EFMP enrollment.

Jennifer S., EFMP Section Head for Marine and Family Programs Division

The study compared 20,692 EFMP participants from March 1989 through December 2015 to nonparticipants who, at the time of enrollment, were an exact match in age, sex, race, years of service, grade and occupational field. The team then compared these enrolled and non-enrolled Marines by career length, high grade achieved and time to achieve high grade. They found:

  • EFMP-enrolled Marines have a longer career on average than their non-enrolled peers. This was true for both enlisted Marines and officers.
  • More than 80 percent of the enlisted EFMP participants achieved a grade that was higher than or equal to the most likely grade of their matched counterparts.
  • More than 60 percent of the enlisted EFMP participants with a high grade equal to their peers reached that grade in the same amount of time or shorter amount of time.

Ultimately, this study found that EFMP enrollment did not negatively impact career length, time to promotion and end grade achievements. In fact, enrolled Marines were more likely on average to have longer careers, with promotions achieved more quickly, than their peers who were not enrolled in EFMP.

You can read the full PDF report at the Manpower and Reserve Affairs website. Learn more about Military OneSource’s Exceptional Family Member Program, as well as other military services that can help you and your family maintain mission readiness.

Call for Back-Up With EFMP ROC

The Exceptional Family Member Resources, Options and Consultations, or EFMP ROC, helps military families with special needs access resources and additional military and community support. Find out more about how EFMP ROC supports families just like yours.

Tips to Get Through a Breakup

Air Force members play hacky sack

If you’re dealing with the breakup of a relationship and the demands of military training or deployment, getting through it all may be especially difficult. Despite the pain, it’s a chance to grow and start fresh. The information in this article will help you weather a breakup safely and regain your confidence and positive outlook.

An emotional journey

Healing from a breakup takes time and effort. Along the way, you may experience intense and conflicting feelings. You may:

  • Get stuck in your pain. You may direct your pain inward in the form of unwarranted self-loathing, shame and isolation. You may even fantasize about death.
  • Be overwhelmed by anger. You may feel incapable of getting beyond your resentment or feel desire for revenge.
  • Lose focus or sense of perspective. Small annoyances or worries may be magnified to seem like huge problems. This makes it difficult to eat, sleep, and attend to personal needs.
  • Experience obsessive soul-searching over the loss. You may find yourself constantly replaying events or conversations and trying to analyze them to figure out what went wrong. This will almost certainly interfere with or prevent you from functioning normally at home and on duty.

If you’re struggling, you need to ask for help from your unit medic, corpsman, chaplain or through Military OneSource non-medical counseling. If you’re having thoughts of self-destructive behavior or suicide, you can also call the Military Crisis Line at 800-273-8255, and press 1, chat online, or send a text message to 838255.

Positive strategies

Take some action to make yourself feel better. Distractions can be a good thing, and there are plenty of ways to use the resources at Morale, Welfare, and Recreation to take your mind off the breakup for a while.

  • Focus on the here and now. Working hard to be “in the moment” will help you to keep thoughts about your loss from taking over your thinking. Notice the people around you, listen carefully and respond actively to what they say.
  • Participate in activities that make you feel better. Think about the things you enjoy. Walking, hiking, playing sports or taking up a new hobby are all ways to use the recreation resources on your installation. Focus on yourself, friends and family, and rediscover your identity apart from the relationship.
  • Find sympathetic people to talk to. Just about everyone getting over a broken relationship needs to have people to talk with about how they feel. Find a friend or relative you can confide in, and don’t forget that you can also find a kind and caring professional to talk to through Military OneSource.
  • Try to see the breakup as a way to grow. While you can’t undo past actions, you may be able to learn from this experience, so you can make future relationships better.

Knowing when you need help

A broken relationship is a type of trauma, and guidance for knowing when to seek help is the same as for combat stress. You need to ask for professional help if you’re engaging in the following:

  • Self-medicating. While self-medicating with alcohol, drugs, food, video games, pornography, or any other mind-numbing activity may temporarily suppress your obsessive thoughts and painful feelings, they tend to come back even stronger.
  • Acting on your anger. It doesn’t help to unload anger on friends, co-workers or innocent bystanders. Instead, release your anger without hurting others by putting it into words, either by talking with others or writing about it in a notebook. Journaling can be surprisingly therapeutic.
  • Denying the reality of the breakup. When you refuse to accept the end of a relationship, you can get hung up on futile efforts to stay connected to the other person through unwanted personal contacts, phone calls, and emails. Sometimes denial progresses to actual harassment or criminal stalking. Frequent and obsessive attempts to make contact only push the other person further away and keep you from moving on.
  • Engaging in risky or self-destructive behaviors. Self-destructive coping behaviors signify the need for immediate professional help to get through a crisis.

The earlier you get help, the faster and healthier your recovery from the breakup is likely to be. And the less likely it will be that your loss will lead to a more serious condition, such as clinical depression.

Where to get help

Take advantage of the resources on your installation, from counseling to group activities to lift your spirits. If you feel that you’re in crisis or that your feelings of anger and sadness are getting worse, reach out. Military OneSource has the tools to get you through this.

In theater, talk to your medic, corpsman, chaplain, medical officer, or combat stress control unit. At home, you have the support of Military OneSource, including confidential counseling any time by calling 800-342-9647. OCONUS/International? Click here for calling options.

5 Steps to Prepare for Higher Education

Service member propped up on truck reading

Perhaps you’ve decided to pick up some valuable knowledge. Maybe you’re leaving the service and need to re-create yourself. No matter why you’re pursuing higher education, you need a game plan — a course of action to get you from today to that moment you walk across the stage holding your diploma in hand. Here are some practical steps to take.

Step one: Contact the Voluntary Education Program

Before you get buried in college brochures, speak with an education professional through the Voluntary Education Program. An education professional can help guide you through the planning and paying for your education, as well as eligibility requirements. Find the right contact information below depending on your service:

Step two: Choose a college

Deciding which college to attend is much easier when you have the right information. As a service member, you have access to useful resources such as the College Navigator, a free online tool from the National Center for Education Statistics. The College Navigator provides information on more than 7,000 postsecondary education institutions, so you can compare schools’ tuition, financial aid, accreditation information, graduation and retention rates and more.

TA DECIDE is another helpful tool for comparing schools and programs. Designed for participants of the Department of Defense Military Tuition Assistance Program, it provides education costs and outcomes, as well as information about other military students who are participating in the tuition assistance program.

Step three: Take your college admission exams

Get ready for some studying even before college begins. Most colleges and universities require admission exams with your application, such as the SAT Reasoning Test, the SAT Subject Tests, the American College Testing (ACT) Readiness Assessment, Graduate Record Examinations (GRE), Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) and the General Education Development Test.

The Defense Activity for Non-Traditional Education Support, or DANTES, can help you prepare for enrollment and cover the cost of some academic tests. DANTES also offers college prep resources that can help you prepare for these admission exams, sharpen study skills, and identify your interests and aptitudes in choosing an area of study or career path. Visit DANTES to learn more or to contact a counselor.

Step four: Convert your military experience to college credit

The tests you endured in combat can count just as much as quizzes in a classroom. The Joint Services Transcript converts your military experience into civilian college credit, providing documented evidence to colleges and universities of professional military education, training and occupation experiences. The Joint Services Transcript is a collaborative transcript program that replaces previous transcript programs, making it easier for colleges to read and recommend credits.

Step five: Understand your financing options

As a service member, you have several options that can help fund your schooling — so that you can concentrate on studying, not paying the bills. The education consultants at Military OneSource can help you identify grants and other kinds of assistance for which you are eligible. Here is a sampling of programs and loans available:

  • Military tuition assistance — provided by each service branch, offering up to $4,500 of assistance per fiscal year
  • Montgomery GI Bill® and MGIB Tuition Top-Up Programs — funded by the Department of Veterans Affairs
  • Tax credits and deductions — such as the American Opportunity Tax Credit and the Lifetime Learning Credit
  • Federal grants and loans — such as the Federal Pell Grant, Federal Perkins Loans, Stafford Loans and Federal Supplemental Education Opportunities Grant.

You’re just a few steps away from achieving your education goals. Remember to reach out to your network of support, including Military OneSource education consultants. You may also want to contact an education professional through your service’s Voluntary Education Program.