Cost of living in Belgium is high compared to the United States.
A PCS move outside of the continental US, or OCONUS, can seem like a difficult venture, especially for first timers, but whatever the difficulties, there are tools in place, as well a sponsor already stationed at your new installation, to support you from starting the new life in a new environment.
Overseas cost of Living Allowance
The overseas Cost Of Leaving Allowance, or COLA, is a taxable additional allowance the military offers service members stationed overseas to help balance the prices in higher-cost locations. The military determines your COLA rate based on several factors, including where you are moving to, how long you will be stationed there, whether or not you will be living in the barracks, how many dependents you have, how long you have served in the military, and your military pay grade.
Overseas Housing Allowance
Overseas Housing Allowance, or OHA, involves:
-Rental Allowances are funds the military provides based on a few different factors, including housing cost and whether or not you have dependents living with you. If the amount of the lease is more than the allowance the military gives you, you will have to pay the rest yourself. If the amount of the lease is less than the allowance, the military will cover the full cost of rent.
-Move-in housing allowance, or MIHA, is for service members and their families to partially cover their costs associated with occupying privately leased lodging.
-Utility/recurring maintenance allowance is a monthly sum the military provides to help cover the cost of utility and maintenance expenses, including minor repairs for leased residences.
The overseas allowances will help offset higher living expenses.
Please keep in mind common daily living expenses when traveling and living overseas:
Exchange rates: Use the COLA and OHA calculators to determine current pay systems exchange rates to see how this impacts your payment value.
Storage unit fees: Budget for a monthly storage unit fee if you are not authorized non-temporary storage paid by the government.
Overage baggage fees: Keep track of your weight limits. the military moving services will ship up to a certain amount, but you will have to pay any additional fees.
For those lucky enough to be stationed here in the BENELUX, you will immediately recognize that this tour is different from any other in the Army. Why? Because of the operational support provided to the NATO communities. All of our communities are filled with diverse, multinational members with about 40 percent of the entire work force coming from our host nations. In fact, you will receive two identification cards: one for the Department of Defense and one for NATO. You are also required to register with your host nation and are provided with a permit of residence. This permit of residence must be carried by the holder at all times. Additionally, many of the facilities and services available to you are geographically separated with some facilities located on the U.S. Army installation and some on the NATO/Joint Services installation. This can create some confusion (like Housing for example). Check here for: US Army Garrison Benelux http://www.usagbenelux.eur.army.mil/
Service members and civilians assigned to Belgium who has non U.S. or non EU spouses must check with their servicing personnel office and the State Department regarding visa or other entry requirements. Belgium requires a document known as a Type C Visa for citizens of certain countries. Failure to comply with visa requirements can prevent a family member from entering or residing in Belgium. It can also result in denial of important overseas privileges such as tax-exemption, access to tax-free shopping facilities, and employment rights.
Public Affairs Office
Public Affairs fulfills the Army's obligation to keep the entire USAG Benelux community informed. It is also the primary point of contact for news media and establishes and maintains sustainable relations with the Host Nation community.
How do we fulfill our mission:
At USAG Benelux and USAG Benelux-Brussels:
Generic email address to submit requests for coverage or request to be added to the Gazette distribution list:
Phone numbers: DSN 597- 5420/5423/5421 or civilian 32(0)68-25-5420/5423/5421
Facebook pages:USAG Benelux
Website: U.S. Army Garrison Benelux
Plesae enroll yourself and your Family members at Alert Notification messaging system - https://alert.csd.disa.mil/
Defense Service Network Dialing Instructions:
The DSN is the provider of long-distance communications service for the Department of Defense. Every installation has a special DSN number and the numbers vary by world-wide location. In order to place a call using DSN, the caller must be using a military phone on an installation. Cell phones cannot dial DSN numbers. When dialing a DSN number from a U.S. installation to another U.S. installation it is unnecessary to dial the DSN 314 area code. When dialing a DSN number to/from overseas locations, the DSN area code must be included.
To dial a phone number: If the number is +32 (0)65 75 7365
Use the country code when calling from outside of Belgium or using a non Belgian number: 0032 (drop the 0) 65 75 7365
Do not use the country code if you are dialing from within Belgium from a Belgian phone number: 065 75 7365
USAG BENELUX primary mission is to operate U.S. garrison and support joint communities in order to execute national defense strategy, support theater lines of communication throughout the entire footprint. USAG BENELUX provides Army base operations services for joint military and interagency communities to support U.S. interests in NATO.
Our mission is to provide Base Operations to joint military, civilians and their families, to include interagency community members with a quality of life equal to the quality of their service.
Provide consistent, quality services that serve as a force multiplier for supported organizations and materially enhance U.S. community and Family well-being and readiness while contributing to the reputation of the U.S. as a valued alliance partner within the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.
Improve customer satisfaction - Increase community support and foster community relationships - Enhance the professional development of our workforce - Continue to be the benchmark for IMCOM-E customer-driven quality of life - Revitalize facilities and infrastructure.
U.S. Army Garrison Benelux has an interesting and dual history. Originally designated as the 80th Ordnance Group, the organization was activated Jan. 25, 1945, at Luneville, France and then later that year inactivated at Fort Benning, Georgia. It was again reactivated at Red River Arsenal, Texas in 1954. In 1966, it was redesignated as the 80th General Support Group when it moved to Vietnam. After more than five years of distinguished service supporting 13 campaigns in Vietnam, the organization was inactivated in 1972. In 1984, the 80th Support Group [Area] was reactivated and relocated to Chièvres, Belgium. Of historical significance to the garrison is that of the NATO/SHAPE Support Group [U.S.] activated in Brussels in 1967 and moved its headquarters to Caserne Daumerie, Belgium, later that year. On activation and designation as the 80th Area Support Group, in 1984, the U.S. support to NATO mission was absorbed into the new unit and it was formally known as: 80th Area Support Group (NSSG), with its headquarters at Caserne Daumerie. On Oct. 1, 2005, the unit was re-designated the U.S. Army Garrison Benelux. In 2012, U.S. Army Garrison Benelux underwent a major transformation and subordinate garrisons’ USAG Schinnen and USAG Brussels inactivated and became satellite sites of USAG Benelux. In April 2016, the garrison took on the Army pre-positioned stock site mission. Currently, there are APS sites in Dülmen, Germany, Eygelshoven, Netherlands and Zutendaal, Belgium. USAG Benelux provides support to meet the special international and joint environment demands for military communities in the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, France, the United Kingdom and northern Germany.
SHAPE total population is 2,992; Chièvres total population is 1,479.
Area population is 96,545.
Mons is a city and municipality of Wallonia, and the capital of the province of Hainaut, Belgium.
USAG BENELUX/SHAPE-Chièvres is located in Belgium, about 25 km from the nearest city Mons. The Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE) is located in Casteau Belgium, about 75 km southwest of Brussels, the capitol.
If you have questions or desire information on grave sites and memorials within Europe, visit the American Battle Monuments Commission. For general information on U.S. Army Europe visit the Headquarters U.S. Army Europe's website.
At the Airport
Your sponsor should have scheduled your pick up form the airport. You should determine prior to your arrival where your unit sponsor will meet you. If you are meeting your sponsor at the airport it is important to note that they will be meeting you in the waiting area. It is also important to give your sponsor the flight number and arrival time so he/she can meet you there. Service members arriving with no sponsor please contact your chain of command.
You may wish to convert some Dollars to Euros for incidental expenses. Food and beverages are expensive at the airport. It would be wise to pack some snack items (raisins, cheese crackers etc). When traveling with young children, plan on bringing an adequate supply of diapers and formula. Remember store hours are different here and a particular brand, style, or size you use may not be available.
Arrival by Train (Gare)
Take the train to Mons (Bergen). Once you arrive in Mons contact your sponsor or take a taxi from the train station to Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers, Europe. Taxi fares are expensive in Belgium.
Driving Directions from the Airport
When traveling from Zaventem Airport in Brussels to SHAPE, follow signs to Bergen/Mons (E19/E42). On E19/E42 to Mons take exit number 23 to SHAPE. Turn right and go straight to the top of the hill. SHAPE is on the left side.
Shuttles are provided on a daily basis Monday through Friday. There is a shuttle that commutes between SHAPE, Chièvres and another that commutes between SHAPE Headquarters, NATO Headquarters, NSA Brussels and Brussels International Airport. The schedules are available upon request to transportation office.
At USAG Benelux
Generic email address to submit requests for coverage or request to be added to the Gazette distribution list:Usarmy.email@example.com
Phone numbers: DSN 597-5420/5423/5421 or civilian 32-0-68-25-5420/5423/5421