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Ever since we found out we’re going to Korea, back in April, our minds have been going non-stop. This is a big deal! There’s a lot of things to consider. Back in August, I wrote my post Moving to South Korea Non-Command Sponsored (Unaccompanied) because, well, that was the plan. And then we switched it up on you and changed our minds. So. We’re going command sponsored.
In the last month, I quickly began to realize that going unaccompanied was going to be so much easier. Once you get the Army involved, it complicates the matter.
Anyway, I’m here to tell you about the process and what we’ve learned so far. I’m hoping others will find this blog post when they’re looking for answers about command sponsorship and the process that goes into it. I’m also hoping that you non-military folk that read this blog might learn a thing or two! Of course, ask me questions if you got ’em. Here we go…
What does “command sponsored” mean?
It means that you’ve submitted paperwork for your spouse’s command to approve their family to go with them. It means that the soldier’s family is allowed to accompany them to Korea, that the family is on the soldier’s orders, and the military will pay to move the family.
What is the process?
Now this is a doozy. This is where we are now, “the process,” and lemme tell you… I’m already tired of the Army because of it! But here’s what’s up.
EFMP Screening. I talked about this last week. EFMP stands for “exceptional family member program” and it’s a program for those who have special medical needs. Asthma, MS, autism, stuff like that, that might require a specialist. They just want to make sure they can take care of you wherever you’re going, you know? Everyone has to fill out this paperwork, even if you’re not EFMP qualified (like us). You’ll need to have a physical on the record within the past year, fill out a couple forms, wait for the screening doctor to review it and approve it, and that’s it! Then your spouse will bring it in.
No-Fee Passport. This is a passport provided to you by the military. You’ll have to bring in a passport application, and they’ll do the photos for you, and send it off. The soldier doesn’t need one but each family member does. Remember, you should also get a tourist passport, but that’s on your own dime. The no-fee passport takes 4-8 weeks to arrive, so get on it early. You can do this when your soldier gets their RFO, but you cannot pick up the passports until you are officially command sponsored.
Paperwooooork. This is all on your spouse. Brandon had to fill out a bunch of forms and sign things to go in with the command sponsorship request.
Wait. And wait some more. Once you submit your request, it takes about 4-6 weeks to hear back. It’s all command-driven. Applying for command sponsorship is surprisingly easy… but the waiting sure sucks. For Korea, there’s always a chance that they will say no, for a variety of reasons. We aren’t as worried, though!
***When I wrote this, we had just submitted our paperwork. It only took a week but we heard back: We’re approved! I’m amazed that it happened so quickly!***
What benefits do you get?
The most immediate benefit is the military paying for you to move. Those plane tickets can be pricy! They will also ship more of your belongings (50% of weight allowance versus 25% unaccompanied). You will have easier access to the exchange and commissary, first dibs on schooling and medical appointments, and the option to live on post if you can and want to.
Aaand… that’s all I can think of.
Even though it doesn’t seem as complicated as moving to Korea unaccompanied, there’s a lot that goes into it. Now, we won’t be buying our own plane tickets, but letting the Army help us out. We also have more to deal with in regards to our household goods! So a lot of steps, but we’re figuring it out.
Do you have any questions? And who’s excited for us? We’re seriously packing up in a month. Ahhhhhh.