Renegotiating a New Normal after Deployment

Section Two: Considerations After Deployment

Review your legal considerations to protect your estate and benefits.

As you begin to review important legal considerations, you may want to check with your local Judge Advocate General (JAG) office and seek their assistance in updating your legal documents. If you didn’t prepare a will before you left, you should consider making one now. Regardless of the size, nature, or extent of your estate, you should have a skillfully prepared will that carries out your wishes and desires. A second legal consideration is a power of attorney. Did you assign a power of attorney for someone to take care of your affairs, whether general, specific, or medical? Since a power of attorney is a legal way to allow someone to act on your behalf, is it still necessary or do you need to revoke it? Also consider your Family Care Plan. Did you create one before you left, and do you need to update it now? Last, verify DEERS information for your family members. Check to see if the information is up to date and that the ID cards haven’t expired. While you were deployed, your dependents had orange-brown ID cards indicating that you were on Active Duty for more than 30 days. Now your dependents should receive pink ID cards indicating your return to Reserve status.

Update your financial plans in accordance with your new normal.

Prior to deployment, you may have used the financial protections in the Service Members Civil Relief Act, or SCRA. Be aware that SCRA protections generally terminate 30 to 90 days after the date of discharge from Active Duty. It is important to contact Legal Assistance or your JAG to find out how you should proceed. You should also have received monthly Leave and Earning Statements (LES) through MyPay, which showed your pay for the preceding month and any changes to your pay for the current month. It is important to monitor your LES to ensure you receive the pay you are entitled to. You should also check that your deployment benefits have been stopped and that your pay returns to Reserve status levels. If you gave anyone permission to view your LES on MyPay during deployment, consider if he or she still needs access. Last, review your deployment budget or spending plan and make adjustments to reflect your new reality. You can start by determining your post deployment income and expenses. It could take a few months for financial changes to settle, so monitor your finances closely during this time.

Pay attention to your financial details to ensure you are always covered.

It is important to reassess not only what your bills are but how they are getting paid. If you set up direct deposits to pay your bills while you were away, consider if you need to contact your bank now that your status has changed. If you set up allotments or created a separate account for your financial caretaker, you may want to close or redirect these funds. You may also have participated in the Savings Deposit Program (SDP) while deployed. Money in this account will continue to earn 10% interest for three months after deployment. Mark this date and think about what you want to do with the account at that time. If you have questions about SDP, check with your unit’s finance officer or go to http://www.dfas.mil/ for more information. You also need to file your taxes if they were due while you were away. If you were in a combat zone, you have an automatic 180-day extension, starting the day you left the combat zone, to file your federal taxes. Filing extensions for state taxes vary more widely, so contact your JAG or state tax commission for next steps. For tax questions or free filing help, you can also contact Military OneSource or CG SUPRT (Coast Guard) or your local Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) Center. Remember that all of these services are provided at no cost to you! These are benefits you earned – take advantage of them!

Consider your employment needs and seek appropriate assistance if needed.

The Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act, or USERRA, is a federal law intended to do three things: first, ensure that persons who serve or have served in the Armed Forces, Reserves, National Guard or other uniformed services are not disadvantaged in their civilian careers because of their service; second, ensure they are promptly reemployed in their civilian jobs upon their return from duty; and third, that they are not discriminated against in employment based on past, present, or future military service.