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Q. I am living overseas while my husband is deployed. Prior to arriving here, I was taking prerequisite courses for the nursing program in Florida. I was under the impression that there were numerous options available school-wise. However, when I arrived, I found that they do not offer any clinical- type courses here.

I really enjoy living overseas, but would like to know if there is a way to go back to the States for one semester (two to three months) to complete my clinicals? I will be purchasing my own airfare to and from. I am just not sure how long spouses are allowed to leave for and if there is anything I can do in my situation.

— Nurse To Be

A. I’m glad to hear you are determined to continue your nursing degree. It takes extra effort for military spouses to pursue education and careers, but it is possible and worthwhile.

As a military spouse living overseas, you are free to come and go as you please while your husband is deployed. You do not need any official permission to go back to the States for your clinical courses.

Even if you go to the States for a semester, you remain your husband’s dependent for military pay purposes. (In cases of legal separation, divorce or marriage annulment, of course, different regulations apply.)

Your absence should not affect your husband’s basic allowance for housing. Cost of living allowances, however, follow different standards than BAH.

Generally, if a military dependent is gone for more than 30 days, then the COLA is reduced on the 31st day, according to the Joint Federal Travel Regulation. The reg also states that if a dependent goes back to the States for school, the COLA is reduced immediately upon departure. Your finance office can give you the particulars for your situation.

Naturally, you and your husband should agree on your plans. Be sure that he knows how to get in touch with you while you are gone. It is also a good idea to give your contact information to your husband’s home unit, so that they can contact you in an emergency.

I wish you the very best as you work toward your nursing degree.

Q. My husband is coming back from South Korea this summer and getting stationed at Fort Bragg. He’ll be back in August, but his unit at Fort Bragg will be deploying in November.

Since he has been remote in Korea, I have been living in Massachusetts and receive BAH here. I would prefer to stay here with my family and friends while my husband is deployed. Will I still get BAH for Massachusetts if I leave North Carolina for his deployment? Or do I have to stay at Fort Bragg?

— Rebecca

A. In your situation, Rebecca, it is certainly understandable that you would wish to maintain your residence and BAH in Massachusetts. A strong network of support is important during deployment.

There is a provision in the Joint Federal Travel Regulation regarding the basic allowance for housing for your situation, and it allows you to remain where you are and continue to receive BAH for that location.

The regulation says, "A member transferred between unaccompanied/dependent restricted tours, whose dependent does not move, continues to be authorized a with-dependent rate based on the dependent’s location."

Your husband’s orderly room and finance personnel will be able to help with the correct paperwork to continue your BAH in Massachusetts.

Terri Barnes is a military wife and mother of three. She lives and writes in Germany, where her husband is stationed at Ramstein AB. Contact her at spousecalls@stripes.com. Discuss issues relevant to military spouses on the Spouse Calls blog at http://blogs.stripes.com/blogs/spousecalls


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