Like all Americans, military families want to know what steps they need to take to keep themselves healthy and safe during the COVID-19 pandemic. We are committed to ensuring military families have the information they need for their well-being.
We’re asking a lot of questions of the DoD and administration officials. As answers come in, we’re updating this page to reflect what we’ve learned.
Do you have questions not on this list that are unique to military life? Let us know and we’ll do what we can to get them answered.
As the coronavirus continues to spread, NMFA is looking for new ways to support our military families through these uncertain times.
Operation Purple Update
NMFA is actively monitoring the COVID-19 pandemic and, out of an abundance of caution, we are postponing our Operation Purple programming until mid-June. Your health and safety are our top concerns.
Visit our Operation Purple Program pages below for the most up-to-date information.
Official Coronavirus Response Sites
NEW DOD GUIDANCE
What is the new face mask policy?
Anyone on DoD property is required to wear cloth face coverings when they cannot maintain six feet from others in public areas or work centers (this does not include personal residences). The Services will issue their own guidance on wear for service members. Medical personal protective equipment such as surgical masks are reserved for appropriate personnel, so individuals are expected to create their own face masks using household items like clean T-shirts or other clean cloths that can cover the nose and mouth. You may be asked to lower your face cover at security checkpoints to verify identification.
What do I do if my ID card expires soon?
For CAC-enabled ID holders, ID card policy guidance states:
CAC transactions shall be limited to initial issuance or reissuance of an expiring CAC within 30 days of expiration; CACs shall not be reissued due to printed information changes (e.g., promotions, name changes). Transferring DoD civilian employees are allowed to retain their CAC. Service members who still have questions about CAC renewal should reach out to their chain of command for further guidance.
If your ID card expires before August 31, 2020 and you need medical care, DoD has issued the following guidance:
If your ID card is expiring or has expired, you can use your current DoD ID card if you are enrolled in the appropriate benefit (Medicare Part B, Tricare Young Adult, Tricare Select, Tricare Prime).
If this is a first time enrollment and you need an ID card, you will need to mail, fax, or email DD Form 1172-2 and provide necessary identification. Contact your nearest RAPIDS Site for assistance.
CHANGES TO PAY & ALLOWANCES
What are the details of DoD’s guidance for pay and allowances for military families affected by COVID-19 and the stop movement order?
New Hardship Duty Pay
A newly-authorized pay, Hardship Duty Pay – Restriction of Movement (HDP-ROM), is taxable pay that compensates service members who are ordered by their commander, in conjunction with health care providers, to self-monitor in isolation somewhere other than their home or a government-funded lodging facility.
HDP-ROM is only payable in situations in which the member remains assigned to the same permanent duty station at a rate of $100 per day, not to exceed $1,500 per month.
Family Separation Allowance
Military families who are in the midst of PCS and are now separated due to the stop movement order should receive Family Separation Allowance – Restricted (FSA-R) if the directed separation lasts more than 30 days.
Service members who are on TDY and receiving Family Separation Allowance – Temporary (FSA-T) and are now separated from their family due to the stop movement order will continue to receive FSA-T as long as the separation is 30 days or more.
Per Diem Allowances While Isolated or Awaiting Travel
The Joint Travel Regulations (JTR) have been updated to provide guidance on per diem affected by COVID-19. Service members who have been ordered to self-isolate and restrict movement while on TDY may receive extended orders from their command to authorize continued TDY travel and transportation allowances until able to return to the service member’s permanent duty station.
Military families in the midst of a PCS whose travel has been halted after checking out of their detaching command will likely be eligible for per diem to cover lodging, meals, and incidental expenses while awaiting transportation. Families are encouraged to maintain communication with both detaching and gaining commands.
Family Separation Housing
Military families who are not authorized on PCS orders to travel concurrently with the service member due to travel restrictions will be authorized Family Separation Housing Allowance (FSH) and Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH) at the new duty station if ALL of the following conditions are met:
- Government quarters are not available at the new duty station,
- The member has obtained private-sector housing, and
- The dependent(s) does not reside at or near the new permanent duty station.
Basic Allowance for Subsistence for Enlisted Members
Service members who are self-monitoring and receive food (room service) from a government dining facility should not lose Basic Allowance for Subsistence (BAS), but they will likely have to pay for those meals under the dining rate rules unless granted an exception by his/her commander.
BAS II (twice the monthly rate) may be authorized for service members ordered to self-monitor in lodging that cannot store food, which in turn requires the service member to get his/her meals from a commercial source. However, BAS II may only be authorized in these circumstances if it is uniformly authorized for all enlisted members in similar situations or in the same geographic area.
COMMUNITY SPREAD & TESTING
If a military member is concerned they might have COVID-19, what should they do?
MHS Nurse Advice Line Website: MHSNurseAdviceLine.com
United States phone number: 1-800-TRICARE (874-2273), option 1
International numbers can be found at MHSNurseAdviceLine.com
The Nurse Advice Line is currently experiencing delays and wait times with increased demand. During this time, video and web chat are limited. Please plan on calling the Nurse Advice Line directly. You will speak with a registered nurse, who will assess your symptoms. The nurse can screen you for potential or suspected exposure or infection. If needed, they can coordinate a virtual visit with a health care provider.
If military family members demonstrate a need for COVID-19 testing, where should they go?
According to TRICARE’s Coronavirus FAQ’s:
You only have to get tested if you show symptoms of COVID-19. Your healthcare provider will make that decision based on your exposure risk, symptoms, and guidance from the Centers for Disease Control. There is a screening process to determine who should get tested.
If you have a civilian provider, TRICARE will cover the costs of the test if your provider determines it’s medically appropriate and the request meets the screening criteria.
When a military family member is confirmed to have COVID-19, what steps will be taken to isolate them?
When a military family member is confirmed to have COVID-19, what steps will be taken to identify anyone they may have come in contact with?
When an individual is diagnosed with laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 within a military medical treatment facility (MTF), the MTF notifies installation, local and/or state public health officials—these public health officials conduct a contact investigation in accordance with Service or locality protocols.
For service members with laboratory-confirmed COVID-19, military public health takes the lead on investigating potential military contacts and local or state public health takes the lead on investigating potential non-military contacts.
The lead investigator will contact all affected individuals, interview them, and provide education and guidance on how to keep themselves and their families as safe as possible.
Will there be extra precautions taken at the gate to prevent the spread of COVID-19?
Service and component commanders, in consultation with public health officials and in accordance with CDC guidance, are implementing additional measures to reduce the spread of the virus that causes COVID-19. These include adding force health protection measures such as the use of personal protective equipment, gate guards wearing gloves and not touching ID cards, but rather scanning them.
What protections exist for gate guards and other service members who have more potential opportunities for contact?
How frequently are activated, mobilized, or deployed service members — as part of a coronavirus outbreak response — being tested for the virus?
What procedures can military families expect will be in place to keep their families safe from potential exposure?
The Department of Defense is using the CDC guidance to educate all DoD personnel on the measures each individual and community can implement to reduce the spread of the virus that causes COVID-19 to protect the health and safety of military service members, civilian employees, contractors, and their families–in the workplace, the community, and at home.
What should military families with emergent needs requiring financial support during this time do?
If your family needs immediate assistance, the American Red Cross accepts applications on its website 24/7.
Army Emergency Relief has made provisions to be able to process claims remotely during the COVID-19 crisis. AER has lifted its requirement that reserve and National Guard members be under Title 10 orders to qualify for assistance. Requests will still need to follow the normal application process, and service members are encouraged to reach out and ask for assistance as needed. Learn more here.
Coast Guard Mutual Assistance can process claims remotely and has outlined what extra assistance it can provide during this time. That support includes funding for child care or to supplement for a military spouse’s lost income.
For more information, contact your branch’s relief society. If not listed above: Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society, Air Force Aid Society. Relief societies may be the fastest way to get help since some are able to provide direct-deposit funds.
Operation Homefront also offers financial assistance to families facing critical needs. You can apply online here.
If military families are having trouble putting food on the table, what should they do?
Food pantries operate on or near every military installation across the country, and many are run by Armed Services YMCA. If you need help feeding your family, please reach out to your local ASYMCA branch to confirm their pantry’s operating hours. Feeding America also has food banks across the country. You can search for one near you here.
If your child receives a free or reduced-price lunch at school, please reach out to your public school district to see what food options are being made available to students during school closures.
The Military Family Advisory Network, our partners in better understanding food insecurity in military families so we can advocate on your behalf, has compiled a list of resources that might help you.
If military families can’t make a mortgage payment because of the pandemic, what should they do?
How can military families protect themselves from scams?
Scams related to the Coronavirus are growing and service members are often targets. You can protect yourself by signing up for free credit monitoring with Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion. Service members on active duty orders and those serving in the National Guard (regardless of activation status), are eligible for this free service.
Will the payroll tax benefit mentioned in President Trump’s address to the nation apply to service members?
The payroll tax credit provision in the stimulus package applies to employers, not service members, who are paying employee wages for paid sick and paid family and medical leave due to COVID-19.
MILITARY FAMILY PROGRAMS
Do military families have access to any telehealth services for non-medical counseling?
The Military and Family Life Counseling (MFLC) Program under the Military Community Support Programs (MCSP) will provide telehealth services for non-medical counseling where face-to-face support is restricted due to COVID-19. MFLCs and Child and Youth Behavioral MFLCs (CYB-MFLCs) is working towards implementing temporary telehealth services in the coming week, including telephonic and video non-medical counseling. Face-to-face non-medical counseling will continue in areas where Federal, state, and local COVID-19 restrictions allow. Family video non-medical counseling for minors 6 to 12 years of age requires parents to attend each session. Individual video non-medical counseling sessions for minors age 13 to 17 requires parents to give consent at the start of each video session.
Military OneSource is hosting daily Facebook Live events at 12pm EDT Monday-Friday to highlight resources available to military families. Watch them here. More information is found on the Military OneSource’s COVID-19 resources page.
Where can military families go to learn about their Military Health System benefits?
How can I refill my prescriptions if my MTF pharmacy closes or restricts services?
On March 31, the Defense Health Agency issued guidance for beneficiaries in the event that pharmacies in military treatment facilities (MTFs) are forced to close or restrict services. Limitations may include:
- Staggered pick up times, Curbside pickup and other alternative pick up options.
- The temporary transfer of non-enrolled, non-active duty service members and/or non- active duty family members to home delivery or retail.
- The temporary closure of a military pharmacy.
TRICARE is encouraging beneficiaries to switch to home delivery during this time by calling ExpressScripts at 877-363-1303 or visiting www.militaryrx.express-scripts.com/home-delivery. You can receive up to 90 days of most medications by using home delivery, and copayments will apply.
For more information about options for refilling your prescriptions, visit TRICARE’s dedicated Coronavirus page.
Do military families have access to telehealth appointments?
The Military and Family Life Counseling Program now offers phone and video non-medical counseling. This is available in areas where face-to-face support is restricted due to COVID-19. More info can be found here.
The Defense Health Agency (DHA) released a new policy regarding the provision of Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) therapy using telehealth. TRICARE will cover ABA provided via HIPAA-compliant two-way audio and video in limited circumstances. The only CPT code eligible for telehealth services is 97156, Parent/Caregiver Guidance. We will provide more details as we learn more. This policy will be in effect until at least May 31. For more information, go to https://health.mil/autism or https://TRICARE.mil/coronavirus.
In addition to ABA services by telehealth, TRICARE also covers telehealth physical therapy, occupational therapy, psychotherapy and more by when medically necessary.
Will the President’s announcement to waive co-pays for COVID-19 apply to military families?
No pharmacy copays will be waived except where specifically mandated by HR 6201 (Families First Coronavirus Response Act). While DHA originally said that early refills would be available, that is no longer the case.
At this time, there is no plan to alter current refill restrictions. The TRICARE Pharmacy Benefit allows for limited early refills dependent on patient situation and pharmacist’s clinical judgement. Patients seeking an early refill should speak with their MTF or Retail Pharmacist, or if using the TRICARE Mail Order Pharmacy, call Express Scripts at 1-877-363-1303 (TRICARE specific).
On March 24, DoD directed all Military Treatment Facilities (MTFs) and Dental Treatment Facilities (DTFs) to postpone all elective surgeries and dental procedures for 60 days, effective March 31. Individuals affected by this postponement will be contacted by their health care provider. This policy applies to all beneficiaries who use MTFs or DTFs, including service members, families and retirees. For more information, visit DoD’s Fact Sheet.
PCS & TRAVEL
What does my family need to know about the 60 day stop movement for military and civilian families overseas?
On March 26, DoD enacted a 60 day stop movement for all DoD uniformed, civilian personnel, and their families overseas. The exceptions include: travel by patients and medical providers for medical treatment; deployments/ redeployments of Navy vessels and embarked units, provided they are in transit for 14 days and have met the restriction of movement requirements associated with current force health protection guidance; individuals who have already initiated travel; and individuals whose TDY ends while this order is in effect are authorized to return to their home station. For more information, please contact your command.
What do the DoD domestic travel restrictions mean for family members?
Families seeking exceptions to this policy or who have follow-up questions should go to their command for answers and approvals.
What can families who are mid-PCS to areas affected by the DoD’s new travel restrictions expect?
See DoD’s explanation of its travel restrictions.
According to DoD’s 3/24 Facebook Live Town Hall, in addition to Temporary Lodging Allowance (TLA) and Temporary Lodging Expense (TLE), service members can be placed on per diem to help offset PCS costs. Contact your financial office for more information.
Should military families anticipate that any Level 2 locations will soon join the Level 3 list?
EDUCATION, DODEA SCHOOLS, & CHILD DEVELOPMENT CENTERS (CDCs)
Questions in this section were updated April 8.
Questions about child care?
Visit MilitaryOneSource’s Navigating Child Care Changes During the COVID-19 Crisis
*Updated 4/8 - Where can parents find information if they’re concerned about their middle or high schooler having an academic plan in place to graduate on time?
Register for the Chart Your Course Series interactive webinar on academic planning, hosted by the Military Child Education Coalition on April 15, 12:00–1:30 PM EDT.
Where can military families find state-specific education and school closure information?
The Military Interstate Children’s Compact Commission has provided state departments of education/public instruction COVID-19 Information and Guidance on School Closures.
Are there any online learning resources for military families?
Tutor.com has a free program for military kids. If you are homeschooling as a result of school closures, this is a great additional resource.
Sesame Street is offering emotional support, learning at home, and COVID-19 prevention resources for kids to help your family navigate the pandemic. Parents can access educational entertainment here.
The Clearinghouse for Military Family Readiness at Penn State in partnership with the DoD Office of Military Community and Family Policy is implementing the THRIVE Initiative. The initiative supports parents as they learn and practice effective strategies for raising healthy children.
The Military Child Education Coalition also offers resources for parents during this crisis. Learn more here.
With schools closed overseas, are school lunches still available?
Exchanges have implemented grab-and-go meals for school-aged children stationed in Korea, Europe, Okinawa and Japan whose schools have closed or gone to virtual learning due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Please reach out to your local exchange for exact times and pick up locations.
Is DoDEA considering closing schools? Would it be location by location?
Follow the latest closures and COVID-related DoDEA information here. The following DoDEA schools are closed: Camp Lejeune, Dahlgren, Fort Benning, Fort Bragg, Fort Campbell, Fort Jackson, Fort Knox, Fort Rucker, Fort Stewart, Laurel Bay, Maxwell AFB, Puerto Rico, Quantico, and West Point. All DoDEA schools across Europe are closed to students. Schools in Japan, Okinawa, Korea, and Guam are currently closed to students.
DoDEA announced on March 19 that they will extend the deadline for Fiscal Year (FY) 2020 Grants to Military-Connected Local Educational Agencies for Academic and Support Programs (MCASP). The application deadline has now been extended to Friday, May 22, 2020. The application process and application package for the FY 2020 MCASP remain the same and can be found here. Grants.gov continues to serve as the sole vehicle for applying for this opportunity.
What extra precautions are being taken in schools and the Child Development Centers to stop viral spread?
According to DoD: Child Development Centers and family child care homes routinely follow health and safety practices to include frequent hand washing, sanitizing surfaces with a bleach water solution prepared daily, and sanitizing cribs and cots used for napping. Children are screened daily to ensure they are free from communicable diseases; they are isolated and sent home if they develop a fever or are unable to participate in daily activities. Installation commanders will implement necessary measures based on local situations and with guidance from local public health officials and the CDC.
Where can military families find a list of school closures?
Should military families anticipate any CDC closures?
CDC priority changes and closures will likely be decided by the installation commander. Fort Benning, GA has changed its CDC priority policy to prioritize children of “medical and emergency services personnel”. On Naval Base Guam, a public health emergency has been declared; therefore, the NBG CDC facilities will only be open to support mission-essential personnel. The Fort Riley Whitside CDC, as of March 15, is limiting care, exclusively focusing on mission-essential personnel and those families with deployed soldiers or soldiers at combat training centers. As of March 19, Marine Corps Base Quantico will close CDC North with priority at CDC South and school-age care programs going to high-priority commands (Clinic, Sec Bn, MCAF and HMX).This is not an exhaustive list but we will keep it updated as we receive information from CDCs.
What do Coast Guard families utilizing child care services need to know?
Guidance as of March 20:
- All hourly child care unless emergency/mission essential is cancelled
- New child care enrollments (unless emergency/mission essential) are suspended
- Parents on a full-time telework agreement must care for their own children at home, their parent fees will be waived, and their child’s space reserved for when they return
- Parent fees will be waived and spaces saved for all personnel who elect to voluntarily withdraw their child temporarily for at least two weeks or until programs resume normal operations
- Child care services are limited to Coast Guard and Department of Defense Single/Dual Active Duty, Single/Dual Coast Guard Civilians and Active Duty with working spouses who cannot execute mission essential duties via telework/self-care for their own children
- Fee Assistance Program: If community-based (private) child care programs are requiring families to pay for their child care spaces, and families are not able to attend, invoices submitted to the Coast Guard Child Care Subsidy Program will be paid.
For military families who rely on Child Care Aware subsidies: Are they in danger of losing their subsidies if the child care facilities close for any length of time?
Should you have additional questions, contact CCAoA at 1-800-424-2246 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org. In your email include your branch, family ID, and which program you are applying for. You can continue to check your status online at www.childcareaware.org by logging into your account.
Will refunds be issued to families if CDCs are closed?
Is DoDEA looking into e-learning options for older learners? Would those be system-wide, or location-by-location?
DoDEA Virtual High School (DVHS) offers a variety of online courses to meet the academic and career goals of eligible students. Course offerings, including Advanced Placement (AP) classes, are designed to address all DoDEA graduation requirements. The online courses adhere to the same standards as the traditional DoDEA curriculum, and align to the same College and Career Readiness Standards (CCRS).
For families who rely on schools and CDCs as a safe place for children to be while parents work, what solutions might exist for additional safe care?
Service members should communicate with their commands about child care needs and whether telework is a viable option. Many essential personnel have priority at CDCs now, so contact your CDC to find out about care options whether you fall into a higher priority.
PRIVATIZED MILITARY HOUSING
How is on-base routine and emergency maintenance being handled?
Every housing contractor is handling routine and emergency maintenance a little differently. Communication is key. If you have questions about how routine and emergency maintenance is being handled in your military housing community, contact your housing office.
COMMISSARIES & EXCHANGES
Are barber shops open on base?
The Army & Air Force Exchange Service has opened two mobile barber shops at Fort Lee and Fort Leonard Wood so Soldiers can receive their military haircuts during the COVID-19 pandemic. Read more here.
Is curbside pickup available at the exchanges?
The Army & Air Force Exchange Service (AAFES) is implementing curbside pickup on April 3 at Fort Campbell, Kaiserslautern Military Community, Camp Humphreys, McChord Air Force Base and Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base Fort Worth as part of a pilot program. Fort Benning has already initiated the service. Order at ShopMyExchange.com and pick up your purchase at the curb. When the pilot program ends, the service should be implemented at most Exchange locations. Read more: https://wp.me/p9Q7PG-1jS.
What health safety measures are being taken at commissaries?
Military commissaries worldwide are installing plexiglass sneeze shields, over the next several days, in all regular checkout lanes to add extra protection for customers and cashiers. They will not be placed at self-checkout stands.
What plans do the commissary and PX have to maintain steady shipments of EPA-approved COVID-19 cleaners?
According to DeCA, they are increasing deliveries to commissaries ‘where the need is greatest’ – which they note is especially those overseas. They are putting particular emphasis on high-demand items like liquid sanitizer, disinfectant wipes, and toilet paper, but purchases of high-demand products may be limited.
The AAFES exchange stores are open at most locations but hours may be reduced or changed to allow for thorough cleaning and restocking. AAFES restaurants are open—but transitioning to take-out service to align with social distancing measures. The Military Clothing stores, Express gas stations, and malls are open but hours may vary. Stringent cleaning procedures are in place at customer service and sales points, restrooms, theaters, and restaurants. There is an around-the-clock effort to ensure critical supplies are in stock. There may be purchase limits on products in certain areas. The Exchange’s Disaster Support Group is working to expedite support to impacted areas. Service members and their families can use the Exchange’s Buy Online, Pick Up in Store service. Shoppers simply go to ShopMyExchange.com, click on what they need and select the “Pick Up in Store” option. Their local Exchange will contact them when their order is ready to be picked up.
NEXCOM incorporated additional air shipments to key overseas locations, which has helped get supplies to places like NEX Naples and Sigonella. All NEX stores are open but some have restricted hours so check your individual store’s Facebook page and on myNavyExchange.com. NEX stores have limited purchase quantities of certain products to two products, per customer, per day. All in-store vendor and sales events are cancelled so any flyers or sales coupons you receive in the mail might not apply. All special sales prices, both in-store and online, will be honored. Additionally, all purchases made on myNavyExchange.com will receive free standard shipping.
GI BILL & FEDERAL STUDENT LOANS
Will GI Bill benefits remain even if education institution move to online classes?
Many higher education institutions have moved all classes and programs online for the remainder of the current term. To ensure military-connected students who are using their GI Bill benefits maintain their current benefit amounts, Congress passed legislation so that benefit payments continue even if the program has changed from resident to online training. Without this Congressional action, a student’s monthly housing allowance, which they were counting on for the remainder of the term, would have been significantly cut until in-person classes resumed. Students do not need to do anything, the Department of Veterans Affairs will continue payments automatically. Students can contact the Education Call Center with questions at: 1-888-442-4551 0800-1900 ET, Monday-Friday.
Will relief from federal student loans be granted during this time?
The President announced that interest on federal student loans would be waived, including direct loans, Federal Perkins Loans, and Federal Family Education Loan Program loans. The Department of Education is also providing the ability for all borrowers with a federally held loan to suspend payments for 60 days. We encourage you to work with your student loan servicer if you need assistance repaying loans due to the pandemic. FAQs about this announcement can be found here.
Do military families still need to file taxes by April 15?
GROUP SPACES ON BASES
Will houses of worship on military installations stay open?
Religious services will move online and base religious programs will continue virtually. Chaplain services will be available by phone, email and online chat. More information here.
DOMESTIC & FAMILY VIOLENCE PREVENTION
What resources are available for individuals who don’t feel safe at home?
National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1(800) 799-SAFE (there’s also an online chat option)
National Center on Domestic Violence, Trauma, and Mental Health – Supporting Survivors’ Access to Substance Use Disorder and Mental Health Services During the COVID-19 Emergency
Futures Without Violence, Promising Futures Capacity Building Center – Recommendations for helping family and friends experiencing violence at home
Futures Without Violence, Health Resource Center on Domestic Violence – Updates and Information, COVID-19
National Network to End Domestic Violence, WomensLaw.org – Frequently Asked Questions Involving Courts and COVID-19,
Questions We are Continuing to Ask Authorities
We will update this list in real time as we get answers. Please check back regularly as this situation evolves.
SCHOOL CLOSURES: CHILD CARE AND FAMILY SAFETY
How is DoD thinking about solutions for military children who rely on free or reduced-price meals at school to meet their nutritional needs during school closures?
QUARANTINE, SOCIAL DISTANCING, AND ISOLATION
For military families that are encouraged by medical professionals to either quarantine, isolate, or practice additional social distancing, what kind of support can they expect from commands? If service members in these families are expected to work, would room be made for those service members in barracks as needed?
GROUP-USE FACILITIES ON MILITARY INSTALLATIONS
What additional precautions are planned to keep big-group spaces on base like MWRs, gyms, libraries, and movie theaters disinfected? Should military families expect to see closures? Would those be closed by the DoD, branches, installations, or would those be building-specific?
This is our initial list. What additional questions do you have? Let us know by emailing us at Info@MilitaryFamily.org. And don’t forget to check back for updates to this page.