Getting A Job On A Military Base

There are too many job opportunities on military bases to name-everything from typical fast food jobs to high-paying Civil Service positions. The kinds of employment opportunities open include what are called “appropriated fund” positions that are funded via yearly congressional budgets, and “nonappropriated fund” jobs which are paid by other agencies are not specifically listed in a congressional budget.

U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Delia Marchick
USAF photo by Staff Sgt. Delia Marchick.

Civil Service jobs would fall under “appropriated fund” work, and a job opening at an on-base shop or movie theater run by AAFES are good examples of “non-appropriated fund” positions.

That distinction may be unimportant to some, but when you begin applying for on-base jobs you will see phrases like “appropriated fund position” or “nonappropriated fund position” listed prominently in the job description-it’s good to know what these terms mean to avoid confusion at application time. Both types of jobs are available to qualified applicants at military bases stateside and overseas.

Job applications on military bases are not collected in a centralized fashion-you don’t apply via a central office, or use a standardized form. In the case of appropriated fund Civil Service jobs, testing may be required. Some on-base jobs are listed through typical “apply here” websites including USAJobs.com or BrassRing.com. Others may be listed on USA.gov. Still others may be listed locally via base communications, bulletin boards, official or unofficial web pages, etc.

When you apply for a job on a military base, you may be asked for information about your “sponsor”. This is a question asked when military dependents or spouses are applying for on-base work. “Who’s your sponsor” basically means a request for the name of the currently serving military member in the family assigned to that particular base. That question won’t apply to all applicants, and can be a source of confusion to those not familiar with the custom.

Spouses and dependents of those who are assigned to the base they want to work at may find local hiring incentives offered that aren’t available to those who are simply looking for work but aren’t related to someone assigned to the base. That’s not always true, but when it is true there may be an advantage for those competing for a specific job.

Some jobs may require a security clearance. That isn’t as much of an issue as you might think-in the past most military members have been required to have a “Secret” level security clearance at a minimum. In some cases, even the most basic types of jobs may require this depending on the nature of the military installation. A job as a coffee vendor at the Pentagon may require the kind of background check you would never be asked to submit to as an employee at the local cafe.

But these practices are, in many cases, formalities. If you are asked to consent to a background check, be ready to answer questions that might require you to do a bit of preparation. Do you remember your first street address? The whereabouts of an ex-spouse? Brushing up on your personal history can help in such cases.

In a future article, we’ll look at some of the specific opportunities for on-base employment out there-including some that aren’t as well-known such as teaching gigs, counselor jobs, and even librarian work.


About The AuthorJoe Wallace is a 13-year veteran of the United States Air Force and a former reporter for Air Force Television News


GI Bill Changes: What You Should Know About The “Forever GI Bill”

Protections for veterans attending colleges that close. An end to the “15-year” rule for using VA benefits. Added incentives for pursuing tech or science-related degrees. These are just a few of the GI Bill® changes that have been approved by both the House and Senate.

President Trump signed the new Forever GI Bill on Wednesday, August 16 2017 that brings about many changes to education benefits for service members, veterans and their families.

Known as both the “Forever GI Bill” and more formally as the Harry W. Colmery Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2017, the changes have, at the time of this writing, now must to be signed into law, and not vetoed, by the President before they can take effect.

Nevada Senator Dean Heller posted an announcement about the passage of the bill on his official site, stating, “The Harry W. Colmery Veterans Educational Assistance Act makes much-needed updates for reservists, Purple Heart recipients, and veterans who face school closures while enrolled and surviving family members.”


Senator Heller had a hand in some of the provisions now awaiting the President’s signature. Among those “Heller Provisions”:

● S. 1362, Heller’s Guard and Reservists Education Improvement Act: which “adjusts the G.I.

Photo by Lance Cpl. Aaron Bolser.
USMC photo by Lance Cpl. Aaron Bolser.

bill tier structure to increase the benefit payable percentage for Guardsmen and Reservists who served less than 12 months. In many cases, time spent on initial training does not count toward active-duty time”

● S.1277, VET TEC Act of 2017: This provision requires the Department of Veterans Affairs “to conduct a pilot program allowing veterans to access non-traditional technology education programs, including in the areas of computer programming, computer software, media application, and information sciences”.

● S. 1489, Veterans Education Relief and Reinstatement Act (VERRA) of 2017: This provision expands the VA’s authority “to restore the Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits of veterans who are affected by the permanent closure of ITT Tech or other institutions. Currently, VA cannot fully restore a veterans’ benefits if a school they attend permanently closes”.


The school closure issue is an important one that has gained additional traction in recent times due to school closings such as ITT Technical Institute and Corinthian College. Under current rules, the VA cannot restore benefits to those who attend a participating institution that closes before the student can finish a degree. The “Forever” GI Bill would give the VA authority to give back some GI Bill benefits in such circumstances. The extent of that authority and the specifics aren’t officially available from the VA at the time of this writing.

Some 18 bills were combined or consolidated into the Forever GI Bill now waiting to be signed into law. Illinois Senator Tammy Duckworth, one of the legislators responsible for introducing this ambitious GI Bill expansion in the Senate, went on record saying, “The Post-9/11 G.I. Bill was one of the most significant achievements Congress passed in a generation. It has helped Servicemembers, Veterans and their family members attend college and get an education that helps them get good-paying jobs. I myself received a degree through the Post-9/11 G.I. Bill…”

Until the President signs the bill into law, current GI Bill rules and regulations will apply, but a number of the changes described here are anticipated to become effective starting in 2018, assuming the bill gets signed into law.


About The AuthorJoe Wallace is a 13-year veteran of the United States Air Force and a former reporter for Air Force Television News


Understanding Military Pay

Military pay can be hard to understand-at first. There are several types of compensation that may affect a military member’s total pay; some of them are considered “special pay” for duty or qualifications that warrant additional pay in the eyes of the Department of Defense, while other pay may be added for all servicemembers on a yearly basis, or as the result of re-enlisting. There are also allowances, incentive pay, and more.

Basic Pay

U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Bradly A. Schneider/Released
U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Bradly A. Schneider/Released

Basic pay is the standard, taxable baseline amount a service member earns every month. Basic pay varies depending on three factors: the amount of time spent in the service to date, the time spent in the member’s current rank, and whether or not the military member is an officer or enlisted person. The lowest ranking enlisted member who has served the shortest amount of time in uniform will earn (at the time of this writing) just under $1,500 per month. The highest ranking and longest serving enlisted member will earn just under $8,000 per month.

It’s important to note that Active Duty pay differs from Guard/Reserve pay, and that serving full time offers different terms for pay, allowances, and entitlements than for those in the Guard and Reserve.

For Basic Pay, there is an annual cost-of-living increase that is determined by a variety of factors including Congressional approval.

Military Allowances

According to the Department of Veterans Affairs official site (VA.gov), military allowances are the second most important type of pay available to the service member. Part of the reasoning for this is that allowances are not taxed, and some allowances are quite substantial.

According to the VA, “Allowances are monies provided for specific needs, such as food or housing. Monetary allowances are provided when the government does not provide for that specific need. For example, the quantity of government housing is not sufficient to house all military members and their families. Those who live in government housing do not receive full housing allowances. Those who do not live in government housing receive allowances to assist them in obtaining commercial housing.”

Military allowances include money for housing, uniforms, and meals, depending on rank. The housing allowance is determined in part based on zip code and the rental averages calculated for that area. Uniform allowances are paid annually in most cases. The first clothing allowance is paid to the member during basic training, and other clothing allowances apply beyond that.

When a military member gets orders to a new duty station, a moving truck is usually involved and all the expenses that go with that type of relocation. To help offset the costs of moving, whether overseas or stateside, the Department of Defense provides a dislocation allowance that is approximately $740 for the lowest ranking military member (without dependents). The amount of this allowance is based on the service member’s rank and “with dependents” or “without dependents” status.

Another type of military allowance is the Cost Of Living Allowance, or COLA. In the past, COLA applied mainly to overseas military assignments, but in 1995 new rules allowed those serving at stateside bases to begin receiving COLA based on location. COLA is also calculated based on rank and “with dependents” or “without dependents”.

Incentive, Bonus & Special Pay

There are other types of military pay that are important to get familiar with including special duty pay, incentive pay, sea pay, drill pay, family separation allowance, family subsistence and hazardous duty pay.


About The AuthorJoe Wallace is a 13-year veteran of the United States Air Force and a former reporter for Air Force Television News


How To Request Form 702 (LES)

The Military Leave And Earnings Statement (LES) is basically a pay stub for military members. It shows the amount of pay, the amount of tax deductions, and your entitlements. It also shows the amount of accrued leave time, any allotments the military member has, and even shows details of the member’s chosen retirement plan. An LES is also a type of proof-of-service, as we’ll discuss in a moment.

U.S. Air National Guard. photo by Tech. Sgt. Bradly A. Schneider/Released
U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Bradly A. Schneider/Released.

The LES is typically used in a variety of ways-a lender will require an LES copy when processing a home loan, you may be required to present one to show proof of your military standing when claiming education benefits while still on active duty, or you may be required to furnish one to an employer if you are a Guard/Reserve Member trying to request a leave of absence in order to respond to a call-to-duty.

But sometimes the LES is not furnished by the military member. This may be true in cases where an LES is required to apply for a home loan in the service member’s absence, or apply for benefits/entitlements on behalf of a service member who isn’t personally able to do so.

There are many scenarios where this may be a factor, but the most common are those where the service member is deployed or there is a medical condition that prevents the member from applying in person.

When using a military member’s LES in this way, a Power of Attorney (POA) may also be required. There are two basic types. One is a “general” POA, which allows the person named in the POA to perform a wide range of legal, financial or medical decisions on someone else’s behalf. The other is a limited POA which only permits the person named to act in ways specifically defined in the legally binding document.

Sometimes a military member has plenty of time to make these arrangements, and other times (such as in the case of a no-notice or limited-notice deployment) there isn’t time to get all the legwork done. A POA may be available, but copies of the LES are not. It falls to the person with the POA to request the member’s LES when needed (assuming the POA allows this in the legally binding language of the document).

There are procedures in place to request a copy of an LES; these procedures vary depending on the branch of service and the date of the LES being requested. For those who are requesting an LES using a Power of Attorney, there may be service-specific requirements for getting the LES. The Defense Finance And Accounting Service official website has information for those seeking copies of an LES, but it may be most helpful to begin with the Finance Office at the base where the military member is currently assigned (not the base the member is deployed to, in cases where there is a Temporary Duty assignment or deployment has occurred).


About The AuthorJoe Wallace is a 13-year veteran of the United States Air Force and a former reporter for Air Force Television News


What are the best military benefits?

What are the best military benefits? The answer to that question likely depends on your focus. Those who are interested in education will have a higher priority in that area, but those who are more interested travel, living overseas, or buying a new home have different needs. In general, there are benefits that can help no matter what your immediate interests may be.


Education

Why is education at the top of our list? Because unlike purchasing a home, or getting access to specific types of healthcare in the military medical system (or via civilian providers through TRICARE) education benefits can be used nearly anywhere a military member winds up being assigned.

U.S. Army National Guard photo by Sgt. Alexander Rector
U.S. Army National Guard photo by Sgt. Rector.

The Post-9/11 GI Bill® is the best-known education benefit, and while it’s true that the GI Bill can be used for online education, it’s not the only military benefit available to those in uniform. Each branch of the service offers its own tuition assistance program – the Army’s program is a great example. The Army’s tuition assistance program has specific restrictions (it cannot be used for “a lower or lateral degree program from the one the Soldier currently possesses”) but also provides financial assistance to help complete a high school degree where necessary.

These programs can be used for, among other things, courses available on-base where offered. Overseas duty locations may have more options for on-base college courses, but every duty assignment is different. Those who wish to pursue off-duty education at stateside assignments should check with their orderly room, First Sergeant, or on-base Education Office to see what programs might be available at that installation.

There is also help available for military spouses and dependents. The Department of Veterans Affairs official website has more information on how to register for these programs.


Transition Assistance

Here’s another area you might wonder about in terms of being included at the top of a “Best Military Benefits” list-why is transition assistance one of the most important military benefits if you don’t use it until the end of your military career? Simply put, you have help waiting to help you begin and continue the process of switching from life in uniform to a civilian career. The long-term effects of your transition should not be taken lightly, especially for those who have their eye on a civilian career in the federal jobs system, Civil Service, or as a government contractor.

Military members find they are scheduled for a number of transition assistance briefings as a required part of their out processing, but there are resources retiring or separating military members should explore long before they start working on those out processing checklists. The Department of Veterans Affairs offers programs under the heading of Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment. that can help you get resume help, job training, or career change coaching.

In the eyes of the DoD, transition assistance is a far-reaching concept that includes both physical, mental, and educational aspects, so if you’re just starting to explore your options in this area, be prepared for a wealth of information about a well-rounded approach to your new life in the private sector.


VA Home Loans

In our previous article about the best military benefits, we covered education and transition assistance, but the VA home loan benefit deserves a special look for one important reason; military members commonly use VA home loans to purchase property over the course of a military career, but VA loans provide some not-so-obvious help for those who know to explore their options.

VA home loans are a unique benefit for military members because the VA loan program allows eligible borrowers to apply to get a home loan, but does not guarantee one to all applicants. You must be financially qualified to be approved for a VA home loan the same as with any mortgage. But for those who do qualify, lower interest rates and more consumer friendly terms await. What does “consumer friendly” mean?

One example-you cannot be penalized for paying off your mortgage loan earlier than the full term of your loan. Borrowers who want to pay more than their minimum mortgage payment can do so without fear of being “dinged” at payoff time with fees or charges that act as a penalty for paying in full early.

But one of the best “hidden” benefits of VA loans? The ability to purchase a home with multiple units (up to four) and rent out the unused units to others. VA loans have an occupancy requirement, so you can’t buy property as an investment that you never use as your primary address. But you can occupy one of the units and rent out the rest.

Another “hidden” benefit-you can use a VA home loan to build on land you already own. You do not have to purchase an existing structure with a VA loan if you have a participating VA lender willing to work with you in this area. Not all participating lenders may offer VA construction loans, but for those who do, this is definitely an option. It’s good to know that borrowers cannot go the opposite route with a VA loan-the rules do not allow you to buy “unimproved land” with no plan or start date to begin construction on a new home.

Some borrowers want to know if they can purchase mixed-use property that combines residential and non-residential features. This is permitted as long as the residential use of the property is the main feature and the non-residential use of the home does not exceed 25% of the total floor area. This can be an advantage for borrowers who are considering running their own business out of the property such as a storefront, but the space limitation must be reckoned with when planning this kind of purchase.

VA loans are always intended for owner-occupiers, so any plans you have for a VA mortgage must include your using the property as your home in addition to other purposes. Talk to your chosen participating VA lender about the many options open to you with a VA home loan. You may find that a VA mortgage offers you a wider range of possibilities than just the purchase of a typical single-family suburban home.


About The AuthorJoe Wallace is a 13-year veteran of the United States Air Force and a former reporter for Air Force Television News