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Geographical bachelors must find off-post housing alternative

Geographical bachelors must find off-post housing alternative

Sharon McBride
Fort Richardson PAO

Barracks space is a hot commodity these days.

So if geographical bachelors are taking up space in the barracks, they might find themselves moving out to make room for single Soldiers who have priority to move in.

Lack of space isn’t the only issue.

“Geographical bachelors by regulation are not supposed to be in the barracks,” said Fort Richardson garrison Command Sgt. Major Richard Watson.  “Alaska, although an overseas tour, it is not like Korea. It is not a dependent-restricted tour.”

It all boils down to Army regulations.

 “Soldiers for a myriad of reasons who do not have their families here in Alaska, but who are getting (a housing allowance for family members) by Army regulation are not allowed to stay in the barracks,” said Barbara Lehman, Fort Richardson Housing Division chief.

According to Army policy, geographical bachelors are generally considered to be Soldiers with family members who are serving in an unaccompanied tour.

However, it’s single Soldiers who are sergeant and below or those who are considered bona fide bachelors who have priority when it comes to barracks space, Lehman said.

“If the unit is allowing a (geographical bachelor) to be in the barracks, they need an exception to policy signed by the garrison command to allow the Soldier to continue to live there,” Lehman said.

The exception to policy paperwork can be picked up at the Fort Richardson Housing office either by the Soldier who needs it or by the chain of command, she said.

Once picked up, the exception to policy letter must be endorsed by the Soldier’s first sergeant, company commander, battalion command sergeant major and brigade sergeant major, Lehman said.

Ultimately, however, it is Col. David Shutt, the Fort Richardson garrison commander, who decides whether or not the exception is approved, Watson said.

The exception to policy is not a sure thing.

“The exception to policy may or may not be granted,” Lehman said. “It’s very dependent on all the new Soldiers coming in.”

Geographical bachelors who find they need to move shouldn’t panic. They might be eligible to collect an extra pay allowance to help defray the cost of living off post.

“They may be authorized to receive (a) Family Separation Allowance–B,” said Rick Bowman, Fort Richardson’s Defense Military Pay Office director. 

According to Defense Military Pay Table 059, an enlisted Soldier might be able to collect an additional $1,075 per pay period in addition to any housing allowance he may already be collecting for his family members.

To see if they qualify for the extra pay, all geographical bachelors must validate their current basic allowance for housing at their respective Defense Military Pay Office. Fort Richardson Soldiers should contact Rick Bowman at 384-1107. Fort Wainwright Soldiers should contact Capt. John Schulke at 353-1336.

Soldiers are required to bring the following documents when applying for the additional pay:

It’s important to note geographical bachelors who have moved family members away from Alaska at their personal expense may not be entitled to the additional housing allowance, Bowman said. However, if that’s the case, they may request the rate of basic allowance for housing for their family member’s location through a waiver.

“Talk to finance first to see if you are eligible, if you’re not, come to housing for further assistance,” Lehman said.

For example, if a geographical bachelor had just planned on staying in the barracks for a few months prior to his unit’s deployment or while out-processing prior to leaving for a new unit, Fort Richardson housing officials have made arrangements with a local apartment complex for Soldiers to rent small, fully-furnished apartments on a month-to-month basis through the Army’s preferred tenant program, Lehman said.

“We will assist (anyone) in their house finding or apartment finding business,” Lehman said.

According to Fort Richardson garrison policy, units may still temporarily grant Soldiers with domestic violence issues a room to stay in the barracks for up to 72 hours for a cool down period.

For more information on the FSH-B allowance, Soldiers at Fort Richardson should call the Defense Military Pay Office at 384-1107. Those at Fort Wainwright should call 353-1336.

For more information on the exception to policy paper work, or help finding other suitable accommodations, call the Fort Richardson Housing Office at 384-0133 or the Fort Wainwright office at 353-1190.