OHA survey puts power in service members’ hands

by Staff Sgt. Timothy Moore 86th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

U.S. service members in Germany will be granted the opportunity to impact their overseas housing allowance through an OHA survey this March.

The survey will collect data to determine utility and move-in housing allowances, which are a part of the OHA.

The survey is intended for all military personnel, regardless of service affiliation, who reside off base in privately leased or rented housing. Homeowners or those sharing rent with another service member are not eligible to take the survey.

“Every member receiving these allowances should take a minute to complete this survey,” said Capt. Eric Hulshizer, 86th Comptroller Squadron budget officer. “By doing so, you become a financial activist for your own pay, ensuring military personnel receive accurate OHA utility and move-in expense allowances while stationed overseas.”

The survey will be available Tuesday through March 31 at www.defensetravel.dod.mil/site/ohaSurvey.cfm?ID=mar-utilmiha.

OHA is a cost reimbursement-based allowance. Active-duty service members entitled to basic pay are authorized OHA based on their grade, dependency status and permanent duty station location.

Members can calculate their OHA payment at www.defensetravel.dod.mil/site/ohaCalc.cfm.

The Defense Travel Management Office, which conducted a cost of living allowance survey in October 2015 that aided in the increase in COLA for Germany, conducts the survey every three years to identify how much service members spent during the previous year for utilities and move-in expenses. Rent is not part of the survey as DTMO collects rental data directly from the pay system.

“Personnel in the Kaiserslautern Military Community absolutely impacted their COLA rates through last October’s living pattern survey,” Hulshizer said. “KMC members communicated that this allowance is important and vital in supporting their families. As a result of their feedback, the KMC area’s COLA index increased by eight index points, increasing their monthly allowance from $102.90 to $387.60 depending on rank and years of service. While we can’t guarantee an increase in your OHA, through your participation in the survey you are taking your financial position into your own hands.”

Service members should use actual bills or records of their utilities to complete the survey.

In the absence of a service member, spouses are authorized to finish the survey.

For more information about the survey, contact Randall Ries at 537-1037 or 0611-143-537-1037; or Hulshizer at 480-4791 or 06371-47-4791.