Caregivers will want to be with the servicemember for whom they care in order to support his or her recovery efforts. If the servicemember is being treated at a location away from his or her family, the family might be able to travel at government expense to be at the servicemember’s bedside.
Travel costs, which include the cost of lodging, meals, and more, are expensive. The government helps fund these costs by issuing orders for families called Invitational Travel Orders, Invitational Travel Authorizations, or Emergency Family Member Travel orders, depending upon the branch of service.
The travel orders can cover up to three members of the inpatient servicemember’s immediate family or designated individual. When the servicemember for whom you care becomes an outpatient, travel orders are restricted to one family member to remain with the servicemember during his or her recovery.
The services do their best to give caregivers flexibility in their travel orders by providing periodic payments and extensions if their stays at medical facilities are extended.
The orders cover the cost of travel, hotel bills, meals, and some incidentals up to a maximum daily amount determined by the location, but not all expenses are covered. For example, car rental costs are not reimbursable. Each service handles its orders in a slightly different manner, so it is best to check directly with your branch of service. The length of the orders varies depending on the servicemember’s needs and the amount of daily “per diem,” or stipend, varies depending on the local cost of living near the military treatment facility (MTF).
The MTF’s finance office can answer questions about the amounts and duration of the per diem as well as about the overall process. Keep your receipts for when you file a claim for reimbursement. Keep copies of the claim in case it becomes lost.
If you have additional financial concerns, the service branch wounded-warrior programs are associated with many nonprofit organizations that can help. Service points of contact are: