Military Moves Part 6: IR or not to IR

IR = Imposed Restriction

CBI 208.997 – Separation Expense

208.997(1) (Purpose) The purpose of Separation Expense (SE) is to reimburse Canadian Forces members for some additional living expenses resulting from the short-term separation from their dependents and household goods and effects ((D)HG&E) as a result of relocation within Canada for service reasons.  IR Links and more information will be loaded in the Resources section shortly.


reasons a family may choose IR are as numerous as the families on IR

It's that time of year again, members are being posted around the country, and families are making a tough decision to allow the member to go IR or to move the whole family.  I have been in the military for 33 years.  I am married to a military member, and we have four children.  We have seen our fair share of separations, some IR-related, others due to deployments.  We are currently living the IR life right now.


The reasons a family may choose IR are as numerous as the families on IR.   As we are both military, the choice was limited, to say the least.  However, we have 'chosen' IR in the past for the good of our children's education (no grade 12 in Quebec,so it's hard to move to Quebec when you have a child going into grade 12)and our son's health care (we have a son who needs specialists) and of course spousal employment.


Many will choose to allow the member to go IR when the posting is very short (for a carer course, for example), so as to not disrupt the family for just one year.  Others, because the spouse has finally gotten a permanent placement.  Whatever the reason, IR is sometimes unavoidable.


living the IR life

So:  what is IR like?  If you are contemplating this for your family, let me give you my two cents:

I am living my 5th year out of the last six with a hubby who is not at home.  Being a single Mom, as many of you know, is not easy.  I am always the one who has to do it all.  Sure, right now he is close enough to come home on weekends (I'll get to that in a minute), the bottom line is that when the member is not at home, the spouse has to do everything on their own.  This can lead to resentment.  The member has it 'easy' living on their own with no responsibilities, they can come and go as they please and need to for their job.  Meanwhile, the spouse is the one who has to get the kids off to school or daycare, do all of the household work, get supper, get the kids off to activities, take the kids to doctors appointments, or other emergencies.  There simply is no break for the spouse.  Extreme fatigue will reign supreme!


be aware of the effects IR will have on your family, marriage, and finances

The kids will feel the effect of IR as well and it can cause strains on the relationships with the kids.  Older kids will become resentful when Dad comes home.  Mom has been the one to set the rules throughout the week, and when Dad comes home, he wants to get involved, which causes conflict between Dad and the children.  For younger kids, it tends to be a little easier, but they too can resent having a Dad come home only periodically.  The relationship with the member living away will likely suffer.


For the couple, it is even harder.  If any of you have ever done a tour, you know that the reintegration is disruptive to the home schedule.  If your military member is close enough to get home on the weekends when on IR, that reintegration disruptions happen every single weekend.  I know many spouses that would rather their military member not come home at all, as it is so disruptive to the routine.  It is hard on the emotional connection within the couple.  Over time, when not living together, it gets hard to remain connected emotionally with your spouse.  Even the strongest of marriages strain through an IR.  A recent report on military families noted that 60% of those on IR felt that the extended absence strained their relationship.


Finally, it is important to note the financial costs of IR.  The CAF pays a set rate for rentals, which has not increased in a number of years.  In some areas, the actual rents have gone beyond what the CAF will pay, so you may have to pay a portion of the rent in some areas.  If your rent does not exceed the allowance, the CAF does not pay for essential amenities such as electricity and heating.  Internet or even insurance on the rental are not covered.  These expenses will be out of pocket unless you can find a deal to get some of them included in the rent.  Finally, any travel back and forth to home is not covered, with the exception of ONE trip per year, and only if you live far enough away (Montreal-Ottawa, for example, is not covered).  So, travel back and forth to see the family comes out of pocket as well.  If you start to do the math, a typical IR can cost the member at least an additional $1,000 a month.  It is important to be aware of these 'hidden' expenses before you accept IR.


IR is sometimes necessary

In conclusion, IR is sometimes necessary for the well-being of the family, the children's education, spousal employment, and healthcare.  Sometimes, we have no choice at all.  However, it is important to be well aware of the effects IR will have on your family, your marriage, and your financial situation before you embark on that journey.


Telah has been in the CAF for 33 years, serving both in the Regular and the Reserve Force.  A logistics Army officer, she has moved across the country, and OUTCAN to be with her military spouse while raising her four boys.  When she was a reservist, she was also a high school teacher and worked in the private sector.  Telah has deployed overseas four times, and her spouse has deployed three times, one of which was a year long.  She has two bachelors degrees in Social Science and Education, and has two masters degrees, one in War Studies and one in Defence Studies.  Three of her boys are now in the CAF, so she is also a Military Mom.


Editor's note:  the last increase to IR rates was in 2008