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What the Recruiter Never Told You

Part 10 -- Military Assignments


Of course, one can be involuntarily assigned overseas, as well. If there are not enough volunteers for overseas vacancies, the service will select a non-volunteer. In general, this is done based on the military member's last overseas return date. For example, let's say that there is a vacancy for an E-7 in Japan in MOS XX. There are no volunteers on the list. John last returned from an overseas tour on 11 May 1985 and everyone else in the Army currently assigned to a CONUS base, in his MOS and rank last returned from an overseas assignment after 11 May 1985. John's gonna get the assignment as a non-volunteer. If one has never been on an overseas assignment, their last overseas return date is the same as their date of enlistment.

Follow-on Assignment

A "Follow-on Assignment" is an assignment after a remote tour. Remember that I said those returning from a remote tour get assignment priority over those returning from a standard overseas tour? Well, those with orders for a remote tour can apply for their next assignment before they even depart to the remote tour.

When one is assigned to a 12-month remote tour, one can move their dependents anywhere they want in the United States, at government expense to live while the member is away. The government must then pay again to relocate the dependents from where they are living to the new assignment, when the member returns from the remote tour. If one applies and gets an approved follow-on assignment, however, the member must agree not to relocate his/her dependents to anywhere (even at his/her own expense) to any location other than the follow-on assignment location. This saves the government money, and is beneficial to the miltiary member because he/she gets assigned (after the remote tour) to a location he/she wants. Of course, single people, even though they don't have dependents can use the follow-on program, as well.


A word here about the difference between overseas assignments and overseas deployments. They are two different things. An "overseas assignment" is an assignment to an overseas location with a set tour length. At the end of the assignment, the military member re-enters the assignment process, and is assigned to another base. This is different than a deployment. Military members currently in Iraq, Afghanistan, etc., are "deployed" there, not "assigned" there. When their mission is complete, they will return to the same base and unit they came from. Most "deployments" are for 180 days or less.

Hardship Assignments

Each of the services also have procedures for "hardship assignments." This allows a military member to apply for reassignment to a specific area/base, due to a valid family hardship. The military's definition of a "hardship," may not be the same as yours, however. The military's definition of "hardship" is when there are extreme family problems (such as illness, death, or extremely unusual circumstances) that are temporary in nature (to be resolved in less than one year), and the specific circumstances necessitates the military member's presence and no other possibility exists for resolution of the family difficulties." If the problem is not one that can be resolved within one year, a hardship discharge will be considered, vs. a hardship assignment.

Join Spouse Assignments

When one military member is married to another military member, both must apply to be assigned together. This is called a "Joint Spouse Assignment." The military will try as hard as it can to assign spouses together (it's considered a "sucess" if the couple are assigned within 100 miles of each other). There are no guarantees, however. Right now, the "sucess-rate" for Join Spouse assignments is about 85 percent. That sounds pretty good, until you realize that means 15 percent of married military couples are currently not assigned to within 100 miles of each other. Join-Spouse assignments work better when both are members of the same service. It's a lot easier, for instance to assign two Air Force people together, as they can usually be assigned to the same Air Force base (depending, of course on their jobs). However, if one is in the Air Force and the other is in the Marine Corps, it would be much more difficult, as there are few Marine Corps jobs on Air Force bases, and few Air Force jobs on Marine Corps bases, and few Air Force bases and Marine Corps bases within 100 miles of each other. For details, see our Military Couples article.

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