It’s the most wonderful time of the year … that time when DOD releases the Basic Allowance for Housing rates. Just like the number of COVID cases, the 2021 BAH rates are going up!
According to DOD:
The Department of Defense has released the 2021 BAH rates. Basic Allowance for Housing rates will increase an average of 2.9 percent when the new rates take effect on January 1, 2021. An estimated $23 billion will be paid to approximately one million service members.
The 2021 Basic Allowance for Housing, as part of a robust military compensation package, continues the member out-of-pocket expense element at five percent of the national average housing cost by pay grade. The out-of-pocket expense amounts incorporated in the 2021 BAH rates vary by grade and dependency status and range from $70 to $158 monthly. Even with the out-of-pocket expense amounts, the overall military pay and benefits package remains competitive and healthy.
Housing cost data are collected annually for approximately 300 military housing areas in the United States, including Alaska and Hawaii. An important part of the Basic Allowance for Housing process is the cooperation from the Services and local military housing offices in the data collection effort. Input from local commands is used to determine in which neighborhoods data is collected and to direct the data collection effort in those neighborhoods towards adequate apartment complexes and individual housing units.
Median current market rent and average utilities (including electricity, heat, and water/sewer) comprise the total housing cost for each military housing area and are included in the Basic Allowance for Housing computation. Total housing costs are developed for six housing profiles (based on dwelling type and number of bedrooms) in each military housing area. Basic Allowance for Housing rates are then calculated for each pay grade, both with and without dependents.
An integral part of the Basic Allowance for Housing program is the provision of individual rate protection to all members. No matter what happens to measured housing costs – including the out-of-pocket expense adjustment, an individual member who maintains uninterrupted Basic Allowance for Housing eligibility in a given location will not see his/her Basic Allowance for Housing rate decrease. This ensures that members who have made long-term commitments in the form of a lease or contract are not penalized if the area’s housing costs decrease.
The Department is committed to the preservation of a compensation and benefit structure that provides members with a suitable and secure standard of living to sustain a trained, experienced, and ready force now and in the future.
Military and veteran spouses selected from nationwide search to represent their communities and provide a deeper understanding of what today’s military families need and value
One of MFAN’s greatest assets, the advisory board is a talented group of military and veteran spouses who are leaders, changemakers, and champions for military families in their community and around the world. Organized as a peer-influencer model, advisors utilize their unique perspectives and diverse networks to provide an authentic pulse on the most pressing issues facing the military community today. The work of the advisory board not only informs MFAN’s research, programming, and strategic priorities, but connects leaders in the public and private sectors – including the White House, U.S. Congress, U.S. Department of Defense, corporate partners, and military and veteran service organizations – with the lived experiences of military families.
The 14 advisors were selected from over 260 total applicants, a program record. MFAN’s fifth cohort represents 10 states and includes spouses of active duty service members and veterans from all six branches of service and the National Guard.
“Our advisory board is the foundation for all we do – informing us on emerging trends that are starting to take root in military households and allowing MFAN to stay one step ahead on key issues like military housing and food insecurity,” said Shannon Razsadin, MFAN president and executive director. “We’re thrilled to welcome our new advisors. I look forward to learning from them and working together to serve our incredible community.”
Advisors apply for and are selected to serve two-year terms. Candidates are selected by the MFAN Board of Directors.
Through a rigorous application and interview process, the new advisors have offered insights into critical areas affecting the military community like food insecurity, access to affordable housing, financial readiness, education, health care, employment and entrepreneurship, military and veteran caregiving, the transition to civilian life, LGBTQIA+ rights, and more.
“Choosing from our largest applicant pool yet, we’re incredibly grateful for everyone’s interest and commitment to serving the military community with us,” said Rosemary Williams, chair of the MFAN board of directors. “In selecting our new advisors, we focused on building a diverse and unique team with the ability to represent the entire military community. We’re thrilled to work with this impressive group and support our most deserving families.”
2021-2023 advisory board members include:
Joanne Coddington (Army Veteran, Army Spouse – North Carolina)
Heidi Dindial (Navy Veteran, Navy Spouse – Virginia)
Jennifer Gibbs (Coast Guard Spouse – Minnesota)
Jennifer Goodale (Marine Corps Veteran, Marine Corps Spouse – Virginia)
Joanna Guldin-Noll (Navy Spouse – Pennsylvania)*
Lauren Hope (Army Spouse – Colorado)
Kyra Mailki (Air Force Spouse – Colorado)
Cindy Meili (Air National Guard Spouse – New York)
Mary Monrose (Navy Spouse – Hawaii)
Rachel Moyers (Air Force Spouse – Missouri)
Hana Romer (Marine Corps Veteran, Marine Corps Spouse – California)*
Whether it’s after four years or twenty plus years, everybody gets out of the military. It can be daunting to figure out what to do after. Of course, if one retires, that can be it. However, most veterans are uncomfortable being inactive even if they have that option. Which is a good trait to have in entrepreneurship. In fact, the past decade has shown an increased push to have small business training, mentorship and access to funding than ever before.
1. Veterans hire veterans
Naturally, the character traits honed in military service make veterans a force to be reckoned with in the workplace. Combat veterans often feel like they don’t have to prove anything to anyone, which is correct in theory but counterproductive in practice. Civilians don’t know what they don’t know about you. Some combat veterans are fine with doing the job to the best of their ability, getting a check and going home. There is nothing wrong with that.
Yet, combat veterans can always do more, they know they can captain the ship. Non-combat arms-related military occupational specialties provide the advantage of their service years count as experience, where typically grunts do not. In 2014, when I was a freshman in college I applied to a famous sci-fi themed electronic store in Burbank to sell TVs. The hiring manager told me that my military experience did not count as real job experience — to sell TVs — An entry-level job position. From that point on, I knew assimilation to the civilian world would require patience and understanding that is not given to veterans. Some employers just will not hire you because of your service and they hide behind the fact it’s almost impossible to prove it.
2. Be the boss a civilian can never be
“I want to hire veterans because they’re bad ass, not because somebody feels bad for them. No! You get some meateaters sitting at the table, you’re going to get a lot of stuff done. You’re going to do it and you’re going to have a lot of fun doing it. You can trust that they’re going to deliver, because they told you they were going to do it. That’s the advantage of hiring vets, as a vet, because you have this common starting place. They still have to earn their spot, but if I have a former grunt platoon sergeant or 0369 that doesn’t know how to get out after it, I’m going to know pretty quick. There are a lot more of the guys who do know how to get out after it and get it done responsibly with high integrity. Tons of opportunity there.”
Looking back at my own employment history, I do not think I ever worked for anyone who wasn’t a veteran. The stigma against combat veterans in particular makes the already small pool of jobs harder to break into. However, as a small business owner, you know what it takes to have been an 0311 or 11B infantryman. You know it’s more about problem-solving with limited intel and making it work with the resources and information at hand. Civilians have a hard time grasping that, and those that do, see you as a threat to their own jobs.
Veterans in a position of leadership often get the best out of their teams because they treat them like people. The end justifies the means, as long as the law isn’t broken. Improvise, adapt, overcome. As a veteran entrepreneur, you can pay your success forward by giving another veteran employment without worrying if they will let you down. Nine times out of ten you’re going to get a motivated warrior loyal to you and your business.
3. Combat veterans have integrity
Business is trust. I trust you to do what you say you’re going to do and you trust me to do what I say I’m going to do – but here’s a contract in case that trust is broken. It’s about integrity.
4. Combat veterans can network efficiently
“It doesn’t matter what you know, it’s who you know.” There is some truth in that saying because, unlike the military, your proficiency at your job is not enough. Even the field with networking with other veterans and civilians. Although I do not like that word, networking –because it sounds insincere — it is necessary as an entrepreneur. Networking in my mind is the process of finding allies in your industry or complementary industry that can provide a mutually beneficial trade of information. How can people support you if they do not know you exist?
Think back on your service. How many times were you able to do this or that because you had a buddy who was your connection? Same deal. You met at a sports club, a bar, through an acquaintance, school, event or a former job. Combat veterans have a form of charisma that is like magnetism for respect. Your service has earned you the benefit of the doubt, now prove you deserved it in the first place. Over the years, these business relationships can evolve into professional friendships. How many times have you heard a famous CEO say his friend is a CEO somewhere else? It doesn’t happen by accident and it didn’t happen overnight.
5. Veterans have initiative
The SBA offers support for veterans as they enter the world of business ownership. Look for funding programs, training and federal contracting opportunities.
“I do not know the answer but I know how to find it” is my favorite phrase from the military. One of the first steps to creating a business is a business plan. The Small Business Administration was created in 1953 as a federal agency to provide counseling, capital and contracting expertise in regard to small business. It also has a mission to support veteran-owned businesses by guiding them to specific advantages one would not know of otherwise.
Combat veterans googling where to start will find their first step here. It takes initiative and follow-through but the information is out there. The SBA has gotten better at providing resources to veterans in the past decade. The only thing better than finding a job is creating one.
6. Vets First Verification Program
The Vets First Verification Program affords verified firms owned and controlled by Veterans and Service-disabled Veterans the opportunity to compete for VA set asides. During verification, the Center for Verification and Evaluation (CVE) verifies service-disabled veteran-owned small businesses (SDVOSBs)/VOSBs according to the tenets found in Title 38 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 74 and 13 CFR Part 125 that address Veteran eligibility, ownership and control. In order to qualify for participation in the Veterans First Contracting Program, eligible SDVOSBs/VOSBs must first be verified.
U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs
The VA is improving by leaps and bounds every year. The VA of today can and will help you with your small business attain government contracts by partnering with the VA itself or other agencies. It is safe to say that even the smallest of government contracts bring in a good amount of money, especially when you have multiple, recurring contracts with the peace of mind that Uncle Sam is not going to default.
Finally, the biggest advantage of starting your own business is that you do not have a chain of command to answer to. No bosses, no corporate ladder. Freedom to create your own client base and decide who you do or don’t want to do business with. You have the freedom to succeed or fail and it all rests on your determination. It is not easy and the road ahead is full of danger but veterans are cut from a different cloth. Combat veterans did not shy away from the insurgents, so why fear some paperwork?
If it takes breaking night with the coffee maker churning out beverages at the cyclic rate, veterans will get it done. You’ve been there, done that. When you’re on active duty, you do your best because anything less is shameful. You don’t want to fail others. In the civilian world, you do your best because you do not want to fail yourself. As a small business owner, you have the freedom to follow your dreams.
Feature image: U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Siuta B. Ika
One of the greatest perks of military life is having a reliable, consistent paycheck. Military pay is issued once mid-month and once at the end of month. We have a chart for you to see exactly which dates are 2020 military pay days and when those funds are available through Navy Federal Credit Union* and United Services Auto Association. *NFCU funds availability is only shown for the active duty checking account, not their other programs.
Building a budget and living within your family’s means are both much easier when you know 2020 military pay dates and the USAA pay dates and NFCU pay dates.
This month, Sesame Workshop, the nonprofit that owns “Sesame Street,” released a new line of educational resources geared toward topics of race. This comes alongside their ongoing platform that is geared toward military families and the unique challenges that they face. Additional programs have been developed around topics of the pandemic and how to talk with kids about COVID-19.
Together with sponsor USAA, the brand compiled a series of content including videos, original songs, downloads that kids can read and/or color and a long list of apps. All of these are free for parents to download and use to more appropriately talk with their kids about tough subjects. There are also add-ons covering specific military topics to give parents and caregivers tips on how to have difficult conversations with kids.
The organization has been providing military-based content for kids nearly for 15 years through their nonprofit branch. However, new material has been added focusing on racial literacy, self-care and coping strategies for kids dealing with racism. It’s their hope to provide kids the knowledge they need to understand big issues, as well as the developmental abilities on how to deal with the feelings that come with them, they said.
“Military and veteran families practice service in everything they do, and they live their lives with purpose – values that help them confront injustices like racism,” Dr. Jeanette Betancourt, Senior Vice President of US Social Impact, Sesame Workshop, said. “In a military kid’s world, it’s common to see people of all races and backgrounds living, working, and playing together. Military parents and caregivers can help their children become good citizens of the world by using that unique opportunity to talk openly about racism and celebrate who they are inside and out.”
Topics covered on the website include:
Injuries and care-giving
Military to civilian life
Race-related topics include:
How to talk about race
Being proud of one’s features
Self-love and worth
Dealing with feelings and expression
Sesame Street also offers learning resources on topics that affect civilian families, such as divorce and incarceration, through their program, Little Children, Big Challenges family support services.
Professional development resources are available for teachers, social workers and others who work with children on both topics. Check out the videos, or sign up for ongoing courses, such as webinars and events.
Families can watch the videos, listen and sing along to songs and engage in other ways, such as downloading the free Sesame Street apps (including those associated with the above topics), download PDFs with activities, or play online games. Versions are available in English and Spanish.