Friday , April 19 2024
As we've not lived in the states for over a year, we are stateless citizens.

There’s No Place Like Home. Where Is It?

My husband came home from Iraq and received orders to Marine Forces Europe here in Germany. Sixty days later I was sitting in the newcomer’s orientation class reading through the welcome package and I distinctly recall not one reference to this tour making us stateless. As we’ve not lived in the United States for over a year, we the dependents no longer have a home of record. The process of trying to get our kids back to the states and enrolled in college on in-state rates has me toying with the idea of buying stock in the company that makes Valium.

I’ve come to learn that being stateless is common and isn’t a dilemma limited to those living outside the states. For instance, your native state, A, says you’re no longer a resident as you’ve lived somewhere else for six months. You’ve been living in state B which requires a year of employment or a year of full time college enrollment for resident status. You’re not yet a resident of state B and are no longer a resident of state A. You are stateless.

An exception for the in-state rate is made for the dependents of military servicemembers as long as the military member is stationed in the United States. This exception applies only to the state in which the servicemember is stationed and only if the Board of Regents for that state allows it. If a member is stationed overseas on unaccompanied orders, there are states that won’t give dependents the in-state rate in the state of his last assignment unless the dependents have been living there for the required amount of time. If the dependents return home for the duration of the servicemember’s overseas tour and were gone long enough, they don’t qualify for in-state rates there either. In this, they too are stateless.

My husband and I decided a long time ago to save money so the kids could go to college rather than buy a home we wouldn’t be able to live in for 20 years. If only we’d known then that buying a house would’ve established a home — of record. It doesn’t matter where any of us were born, where any of our state taxes go, where anyone’s driver’s license is from, or where anyone is registered to vote. I’ve talked to the school they wish to attend, other schools in other states, the Board of Regents in several states, and our legal office here on base. Each passes the buck to the next saying “they can” whereas “they” say “we can’t” and it just goes ’round and ’round.

There are states that will waive the resident requirement if they secure full time employment and go to school part time. Good and fine until one notes that the military will only fly the kids back to the states and ship all their stuff if they are enrolled full time in an accredited college. For the record, the military won’t fly kids home who will be attending community colleges. Proof of enrollment is required prior to securing travel.

Do you remember trying to get your first job but couldn’t find one because they all required experience you didn’t have because you’d never held a job? That’s what this is like.

The interesting thing is that victims of natural disaster, like those stranded by the hurricanes, can have their time waived and get in-state rates upon enrollment. That’s great, I just wish the same courtesy was extended to all those kids who’ve lived with their military parent’s deployments and multiple moves for many years. Additionally, it’s not right that we’ve worked all this time just to have our money eaten up by out-of-state rates that are upwards of four times more than in-state rates.

I’m still waiting to hear back from both mine and my husband’s congressmen, for a second time. The first time there was some confusion about whether or not they were in fact our congressmen.

Does Valium come in a drip?

About Diana Hartman

Diana is a USMC (ret.) spouse, mother of three and a Wichita, Kansas native. She is back in the United States after 10 years in Germany. She is a contributing author to Holiday Writes. She hates liver & motivational speakers. She loves science & naps.

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