Information for Incoming Medical Students

Relocating to USU

The information below is provided to help you in your relocation to the Washington, DC, area. The information comes from a number of sources, including a number of housing referral offices at installations in the area. It also includes the insights of students who have recently shared your upcoming experience and who offer tips they found particularly useful when they arrived. The information should give you a good start as you plan your move and actually get settled into this area.

If you have questions, we encourage you to contact the housing offices listed below or call someone in the Military Personnel Office (Milpo), the Office for Student Affairs (OSA), or your Company Commander. Our common goal is to make your move and transition as uncomplicated and enjoyable as possible.

Housing Referral Office (301) 295-6564
Walter Reed National Military Medical Center (WRNMMC) DSN: 295-6564 (800) 358-6301

(The WRNMMC Housing Office should be the first point of contact for ALL students, regardless of service, to learn more about the local housing.)

Housing Office (89 CES/DEH) (301) 981-5166
Andrews AFB MD 20331-5000 DSN: 858-5166

Family Housing Office (410) 672-4570
Fort Meade MD 20755-5115

(DSN stands for the Defense Switch Network, or autovon system, a long-distance telephone service available at military bases worldwide.)

Moving Out

Army, Navy and Air Force students should make moving arrangements through the transportation office at the nearest military installation. Even if you plan to move yourself, you must contact a transportation office before you leave in order to be reimbursed for your moving expenses. All students, regardless of service, should refer to the Joint Personal Property Shipping Office, Washington DC Area (JPPSOWA) website at Click on the Outbound tab located on the left hand side then check out the "It's Your Move" pamphlet. ( pamphlet addresses issues that are specific to a military move, but also offers suggestions helpful to anyone facing a move. Every service family has its own set of moving tricks, but here are a number you will want to consider (or reconsider) as you plan for the move.

  • They are YOUR belongings--don't let the packers or movers convince you otherwise. Watch them carefully; if you don't like the way they packed something, ask them to do it over.
  • You must allow the packers to pack your breakable items if the moving company is to insure them against damage. A box will be considered "packed by movers" if, after you pack the box, the mover inspects and seals the box.
  • Make sure all of your belongings are marked with a number and recorded on the inventory sheet created by the movers.
  • The movers will inspect your furniture before they move it and note any damage. Don't let them mark down damage that isn't there. Look very carefully at the agreement before you sign it.
  • Hand-carry some emergency items (i.e., kitchen items, bathroom items, clothing). You can't be sure when your goods will actually arrive at your new home, even though you may be given a specific date.
  • Develop a personal inventory of your property and hand-carry this when you move. Take photographs or create a video inventory of any particularly valuable items (e.g., artwork or furniture). This is a good idea not only for losses due to moving, but is helpful for insurance purposes if you ever experience a loss from fire, flood, theft, etc.
  • You may purchase extra insurance beyond what the government offers to cover your belongings. You should move photographs and items that cannot be replaced and any other valuables personally.
  • You will be given a telephone number of a government moving inspector at both ends of your move. If your movers don't respond to your requests (this includes not packing things the way you want or insisting on marking damage with which you disagree) call the inspector immediately.

House Hunting Trip

Many students prefer to make housing arrangements before arriving for school in August. This will probably require a house-hunting trip. Contact the housing office before you plan your trip and take advantage of the temporary lodging facilities or discounted rates at several of the very nice hotels nearby.

Housing Costs and Allowances

The Washington, DC, area can be very expensive and a rule of thumb is the closer to the university you live, the more you will pay. If you have a family, you'll need a larger place to live, and that can be costly in the immediate area; however, within a half-hour commute you can find larger places to accommodate you. You must balance the cost vs. location trade-off: how much are you willing to pay and how far are you willing to travel?

Remember, when you are talking cost of housing, mortgage or rent these are not the ONLY payments you'll be making. There is insurance (either home owners' or renters'), utilities (gas, electric, water and sewer, and trash), and perhaps additional expenses (possibly a homeowners' association fee, cable television, or taxes). You will be able to live nicely on your salary and entitlements, but know what you're getting into and plan ahead!

Your salary will include a non-taxable housing allowance--a Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH). This will vary based whether or not you have dependents. The following examples reflect the 2010 rates. For more information, refer to:

O-1    BAH
New to service or prior service officer,
with no dependent(s) $1,647.00

New to service or prior service officer,
with dependent(s) $1,977.00

O-1E Prior service enlisted (over 4 years),
with no dependent(s) $1,941.00

Prior service enlisted (over 4 years),
with dependent(s) $2340.00

Again, these figures may vary with your particular prior service experience. Check the above website for further details.


While the Washington, DC, area can be overwhelming at first, it won't be long until you are getting around like a native. An important first step is getting a good area map. Detailed county and city maps are available at local bookstores, convenience stores, and newsstands; often Realtors have up-to-date map books they can provide.

Students and staff live all over the Washington area: most in Montgomery County, but many others in surrounding counties of Maryland and Virginia. Areas immediately surrounding the University--Bethesda, Chevy Chase, and Kensington--are older, well established, and relatively safe areas, but they can be quite expensive; there are few apartments in these areas. More reasonably priced areas that offer a good mix of houses, townhouses, and apartments include Rockville and Silver Spring. The Gaithersburg, Germantown, and Olney areas offer newer houses and townhouses, but drive times are typically 30 to 60 minutes. A very important consideration in your housing decision should be proximity to a metro or commuter rail/bus station.

Applying for Military Housing

Military housing (referred to as "on-base housing" by Navy and Air Force personnel and "on-post housing" by Army personnel) is available to military students at some of the military installations in the area. On-base living puts you in a safe community close to frequently used military services (exchanges, commissaries, hospitals, daycare, etc.) and with other military families. Some people appreciate that environment, while others prefer living out in the civilian community.

One negative about on-base living here is the distance to USU. Most USU students who get the opportunity to live on base do so at either Ft. Meade (Army, Navy, and Air Force students) located about 25 miles away or Andrews AFB (Air Force students only and if units are available) located about 25 miles away. While both commutes are on major interstate freeways, they will take an average of 30 to 60 minutes each way, depending on traffic, and many of the students living there will carpool each day. Contact the housing offices at these bases to obtain information on how long of a wait there is to get in and how to apply for base housing.

A community available as military housing is Glen Haven. There are apartment and townhome units available, but there might be a waitlist period. To view more information, select the Glen Haven neighborhood from this website:

If you are successful in obtaining on base housing, you won't, of course, receive a BAH in your pay. But neither will you receive any utility bills, since the government pays for these.

Temporary Quarters

Whether visiting the area for house hunting or just getting into town for school, you may want to consider the relatively inexpensive temporary quarters located at and maintained by most military installations in the area. The temporary quarters you and your family will be eligible to use include Guest Houses (GH) and Visiting Officers' Quarters (VOQ). Their prices and maximum lengths of stay vary with facility, and it is best to reserve well in advance. The closest of these to USU is the Navy Lodge, on the grounds of WRNMMC and a block from the University. First priority for reservations is to family members of in-patients at the hospital, but newly arriving service personnel have second priority; you may reserve a room by calling (301) 654-1795 or (800) NAVY INN (toll-free) two months in advance. The GH and VOQ at WRAMC, also relatively close to USU, works on the same priority system. Several other military temporary quarters in the area and their phone numbers are listed on the following page.

Andrews AFB, Camp Springs MD GH/VOQ (301) 981-4614/4624
Bolling AFB, Washington DC GH/VOQ (202) 561-2558
Fort Belvoir, Alexandria VA VOQ or (800) 295-9750
Fort Meade, Odenton MD GH (301) 677-5884 or (800) GO ARMY1
Fort Myer, Arlington VA VOQ (703) 696-3576 or (800) GO ARMY1
Washington DC Navy Lodge (202) 563-6950 or (800) NAVY INN
WRAMC--Main Post, Washington DC Malone House (202) 726-8700
GH (202) 726-8700

Moving In

Military Officers will work through the Joint Personal Property Shipping Office (JPPSO), located at Fort Belvoir, VA, just south of Washington, DC. This is the military transportation office servicing this area and is where your household goods will arrive. Contact that office (703-806-4900 or 800-762-7186) when you arrive and let them know where you can be reached. As soon as your household goods arrive, JPPSO will contact you and, if you have your housing available, the goods can be delivered directly rather than be offloaded and put into temporary storage; this, of course, avoids significant delivery delays and wear and tear on your belongings. If the goods must be put into storage, you will need to make arrangements to have them delivered once you are ready to move into your new residence. You may even find it advantageous to call several weeks before arriving in the local area and set up a date for move in if you know exactly when you will arrive and where you will be living. When you contact JPPSO be patient and persistent; the phones are always busy and you may be on hold for a long time even after you get through to the office.

When your belongings are delivered, be certain that every item listed on the inventory has been brought into your home before signing for them; if items are damaged or missing, note those on the forms that the movers will have you sign. The movers are to unpack your belongings if you wish; some families prefer to do this at their leisure, but the movers must do it if you wish.

If you find that any of your belongings have been lost or damaged during your move, pick up from the University's Office of the General Counsel, copies of the government claims forms to be reimbursed for the loss or damage. Follow through on this immediately. It takes some effort to fill out the lengthy forms, but it is well worth it to receive the money to which you are entitled.

For further information on shipment of household effects coming into or out of the Washington, DC area, the following telephone numbers and addresses are provided:

1. Incoming Shipments:
Customer Service: (703) 806-4900
Toll Free: (800) 762-7186
FAX: (703) 806-4550
Fort Belvoir
9325 Duston Road
Suite N110
Fort Belvoir, VA 22060-5580

2. Outgoing Shipment/General Information/?DDTY? Moves Claims:
Customer Service: (202) 433-3561
Claims: (202)685-1194 Thur 1197
Anacostia Naval Station
Building #414
Washington, DC 20374

3. Vehicle Shipment:
Call: (800) 631-5751 (Baltimore, MD)

4. Household Goods Help Line: (NAVSUP)
(0800-1900 Eastern Standard Time; Monday-Friday)

Hopefully this and the following information will make your relocation an enjoyable experience, with minimum hassles. Let the personnel in the Military Personnel Office, the Office of the Command, or the Office for Student Affairs know if you need further assistance during the move or settling in to the area.


Your matriculation at USU and the School of Medicine will begin in Early August, following your service-specific orientations.

The Military Personnel Office, located in Room C1016, will in-process students according to the established schedule provided on this website. HAND CARRY YOUR SERVICE RECORDS FROM YOUR PREVIOUS BASE OR SERVICE-SPECIFIC ORIENTATION; MILPO will collect these records on your first in-processing date. Use the other days during this period to get settled into the area. Once orientation begins, the tempo of activities greatly increases.

Several days for military in-processing are scheduled for the weeks of 2 & 9 August. Academic orientation occurs the week of 16 August. A schedule of orientation events is available on this web site. Briefly, orientation serves as an excellent opportunity for USU and the School of Medicine to introduce you to the people who will assist you through medical school. Specifically, it is a time to meet senior members of the administration, learn about your schedule, hear of the support and extracurricular activities available to you, receive your textbooks, and be welcomed formally into the university family. We invite spouses to attend some sessions.

Military Affairs

USU, while operating as the medical school for the Department of Defense, is a unique institution and you will be afforded some unique opportunities while here. Within this "joint military" environment, you will quickly learn how to balance the traditional requirements of medical school with the requirements of officership. You will also enjoy an interesting combination of military and civilian faculty and staff. This chapter provides an overview of service life at USU; the Office of the Commandant will assist you as you become more familiar with this environment once you arrive.

Officer Orientation

All new officers attend an orientation course for their respective services. While these courses vary in length and specific content, they are all designed to introduce you to policies and life within your own service. The courses include topics such as proper wear of the uniform; service history; general officership issues, customs, and courtesies; and a physical fitness program. Additionally, all of the usual personnel activities associated with starting a new job are handled during this time. The courses and their locations are listed below; you will hear more about your specific orientation program at a later date.

Officer Basic Course (Army), Ft Sam Houston (San Antonio) TX

For more information, refer to:

Officer Development School (Navy), Naval Training Center (Newport) RI

Commissioned Officer Training Course (Air Force), Maxwell AFB
(Montgomery) AL

For more information refer to:

Be financially prepared for several major initial expenses during your orientation program. Some of the expenses (i.e., lodging, a set amount for food, and an initial uniform allowance) will be reimbursed at a later date. Unfortunately, the reimbursement will probably not cover the amount you spend (uniforms, for example, will cost approximately $800-$900); so a conservative estimate of required funds is approximately $2000. If you have been issued a DD Form 214 please bring it with you to avoid pay problems. Some problems can be averted if you arrive at both the orientation courses and USU with this document in hand.

You will receive your military identification (ID) card at the site of your initial military training. This card provides access to military facilities including exchanges, commissaries, and medical/dental treatment facilities. Your spouse and children over the age of 10 may also obtain ID cards at any military installation once you have obtained yours; your spouse will need a marriage certificate and children will need their birth certificate for official verification. You will also be issued a University ID as part of your initial inprocessing at the University. You should always carry your military ID and your University ID with you when on University grounds, particularly after duty hours or when you are not in uniform.