What Support Should you Expect During Deployment? (Part Two)

When your loved one deploys on operations, it can be an unsettling experience, no matter if it is your first experience or you have been through it several times over.

Last month, we looked at the wealth of agencies at RAF Marham and Air Force wide which can support you and your family. This time, we will be looking at entitlements and what other things you may wish to consider.

Travel Warrant
If you are married, living with your partner whilst they are posted to RAF Marham, and your partner is deployed for four months or more, you are entitled to two return journeys either by rail warrants (a ticket arranged by Personnel Services Flight) or Motor Mileage Allowance at the Converted Leave Rate in lieu. This is to enable you to visit your parents, parents-in-law or nominated Next of Kin / Emergency Contact in the UK.

If the deployment is for nine months or more, the entitlement increases to four return journeys, and a 12 month deployment will attract six return journeys. Further, you can transfer any, or all, of your return journeys within the UK to allow up to two close family members to visit you. You would claim the journeys on their behalf. Any monies that are claimed would be paid directly into your partner’s nominated bank account.

Compassionate Leave
Whilst your loved one is away, there is an ability to apply for their return on compassionate grounds. This would normally be in response to a serious situation regarding an immediate relative or long-term partner. The Joint Casualty and Compassionate Centre (JCCC) is responsible for authorising Compassionate Leave Travel from overseas for Service personnel.

The JCCC will liaise with their Commanding Officer, as required, to bring your partner home where the situation requires it. They can be contacted on 01452 519951 or via a military phone on 95471 7325. This number is manned 24 hours a day, including weekends and Bank Holidays. If you are in any doubt as to whether a situation qualifies for Compassionate Leave Travel, please call the JCCC for advice.

Deployment Welfare Package. There was once a time when the only way to communicate with your loved one on deployment was the ‘bluey’ (free forces air letters), which could take weeks to arrive. Times have changed; with the advent of e-blueys they can be delivered within a matter of days and are still completely private (www.ebluey.com). There is also a free postal packet scheme, which allows you to send a packet of up to 2kg for free to personnel in authorised operational theatres. Heavier packages can still be sent within Royal Mail guidelines and will only cost you the inter-UK costs.

Most deployment locations have access to the internet and email. All personnel have 30 minutes of publicly funded telephone call time per week, or part thereof, to any destination, world-wide, including mobile phones, for the complete duration of their deployment. There is also an additional 30 minutes of publicly funded telephone call time for personnel deployed over all, or part of, the Christmas period (defined as 22nd December to 2nd January inclusive). Please note that internet provision is available in the Community Hub and the staffs there can set you up with an internet account if required.

There are a number of allowances that can be paid to your partner whilst they are on deployment; many of these are specific to the area that they are located in. As a general rule, those that are deployed in support of Afghanistan are eligible for Longer Separation Allowance and the tax free Operational Allowance. For those based in more austere conditions, there is the Unpleasant Living Allowance, and for the minority that are deployed for longer than 228 days, the Campaign Continuity Allowance.

Council Tax
In addition to these allowances, you are eligible for a tax free Council Tax rebate of 50% (prior to 1st July 2011 it was only 25%). For those living in Service Families Accommodation, the claim will be processed upon your partner’s return. For families that live in a private family home, the claim will be processed by the Personnel Functional Areas after receiving a copy of your Council Tax bill covering the duration of the deployment.

Car Tax
Whilst many families will use the family car during their partner’s deployment, for those that do not, you are eligible for a partial refund of the vehicle tax, proportional to the time that the vehicle is off the public roads such as when parked on a private driveway or stored in a garage. You can apply for a refund of your vehicle tax by filling out a Post Office form and sending it together with the tax disc to the DVLA. The vehicle must also be placed on the Statutory Off Road Notification (SORN) either online or at a main Post Office.

There are normally a lot of things to consider when your partner goes on deployment. Thinking ahead, your partner may wish to consider making a will, or updating one that is already in place. You can, of course, complete this privately, but there is also the option to use an MoD Form 106. For safekeeping, wills may be lodged with a number of agencies, including your bank or building society, but you can also store it for free with the AFPAA Defence Handling Centre (DHC) at Glasgow. Don’t forget to remind your partner to update the location of the will on their JPA account.

Accident & Life Insurance
You may have heard of the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme. All Service personnel are automatically covered and it provides compensation for significant injuries, illness and death that are caused by the Service. Further information can be found at http://www.veterans-uk.info/pensions/afcs.html or by phoning 0800 1692277 for free advice within the UK. There are also government subsidised injury and life insurance schemes for Armed Forces personnel that can provide additional cover such as the Service Life Insurance (Tel: 0208 3341557) or PAX Insurance (Tel: 0800212480).