Military Advantage

What You Need to Know If You're in the Path of Hurricane Florence

Hurricane Florence from space

If you live on the east coast anywhere between New Jersey and Georgia you probably have heard there is a storm coming. 

You may have ventured out to the store and seen the shelves of bread and water bare, you may have put up sandbags around your house and packed an emergency kit, all good things.

What about your family who was told to evacuate, your GI Bill payments for the school you just started, your VA audiology appointment, your prescription refills, your doctor appointment to get that sports physical for the kids, oh and yeah what about that Navy E-5 advancement exam you were supposed to take the day before the hurricane hits? 

Not to worry, we have all the info here.

Family Evacuation

As of this writing, five military bases have received evacuation orders:

  1. Joint Base Charleston
  2. Joint Base Langley-Eustis
  3. MCAS Beaufort
  4. NAS Oceana-Dam Neck
  5. MCRD Parris Island

If you have been issued an evacuation order take it and get out of town. The military will pay you and your family to leave. Normally you are authorized to move not more than 400 miles away from your station, or to a designated evacuation location. The military will pay you and your family to travel round-trip to your evacuation location and for your meals and lodging while you are evacuated.

If you haven't received an evacuation order you travel at your own expense.

We have more details here.

GI Bill Benefits During and After Natural Disasters

Although the VA hasn't said anything yet, the law is specific on what will happen to your GI Bill benefits.

If your school is temporarily closed due to Hurricane Florence, VA will consider your attendance as continuous and your payment won't be affected. This means that you will continue to get your housing allowance even if you can't attend classes. Veterans using the Montgomery GI Bill must verify their attendance online like normal to receive payment.

Of course, this comes with some fine print. If you are enrolled, and the school hasn't sent your enrollment to the VA yet, you are out of luck. You won't get any money until classes resume. Also, if the school remains open, or opens later but you can't attend due to hurricane related issues, you won't get any GI Bill payments.

Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment, and Employment and Employee Adjustment Allowance payments are extended for two months in the case of natural disaster.

VA Home Loans

VA can help you if you encounter challenges with making mortgage payments after a natural disaster. They can issue a 90 day moratorium on foreclosures or contact your lender to waive late charges on your mortgage payments. Also, the VA may be able to work with your lender to apply pre-payments already made to your upcoming mortgage payment.

VA Medical Appointments

If you have a routine medical appointment you can just reschedule it. You can do this by calling the VA or using MyHealtheVet if you are in one of the locations that offer online scheduling. 

You can also go to ANY VA medical center or outpatient clinic if you have a more urgent need.

If you have a medical emergency, go to the nearest emergency room and fight with the VA over the money later. If you have any conditions which may require emergency care it is a good idea to call the VA now and figure out all your options before it becomes an emergency.

Usually after a natural disaster, the VA will bring in emergency support personnel in mobile medical centers to help out.

VA Pharmacy

If your prescription is about to run out, try to get it refilled before the storm hits. You may not be able to get refills for a long time if mail service is disrupted.

As above, if you have any issues you can go to ANY VA medical center or outpatient clinic in an emergency to get a refill or new prescription. If you are somewhere that isn't near to a VA facility you can usually call the VA and have them send your prescription to a local pharmacy if need be.

Also, you can usually get an early refill of maintenance medications from your local VA if there is an emergency. This should prevent you from running out if you have to relocate or mail service is disrupted.

TRICARE 

Due to the emergency TRICARE may let you fill your prescriptions early. To get an emergency refill, take your prescription bottle to any TRICARE retail network pharmacy. To find a network pharmacy:

If possible, visit the pharmacy where the prescription was filled.

  • If you use a retail chain, you can fill your prescription at another store in that chain.
  • If your provider is available, he or she may call in a new prescription to any network pharmacy.
  • You can request assistance at another pharmacy, but it's at that pharmacy's discretion to help you.

Also, if you are evacuated, TRICARE may waive the requirement to get a referral from your primary care manager to see a TRICARE authorized provider. 

Check out the TRICARE website for more information.

Navy Advancement Exams

Now that your dry, healthy, and fed everything is OK, right? Oh crap, the Navy E-5 advancement exam is scheduled but I'm evacuated, what to do?

Well, don't worry, local commands will have the option of rescheduling them and will keep you notified. Just use the few extra days to study so you can tack on that extra stripe next spring.

Stay On Top Of Your Benefits

Military benefits are always changing -- keep up with everything from pay to health care by signing up for a free Military.com membership, which will send all the latest benefits straight to your inbox, as well as give you access to up-to-date pay charts and more.

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