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Some Overseas Military Base Access Restricted For Military Retirees

Some serve in the United States military, put in enough time to retire with a military pension, and leave the military for their home of record.

Others may retire or separate and move to a completely different part of the country, but a third type of military retiree doesn’t return to the United States to live once they’ve put in their time.

Instead, these people choose to live overseas, oftentimes close enough to a U.S. military base to use the BX or PX, Commissary, base Post Office, and other services.

According to the Department of Defense, some 40 thousand retirees live in an overseas community, and it’s a practice well-known in military culture that’s been happening since the end of World War Two.

But times are changing, and not for the better for at least some of the 40 thousand people who draw military retirement pay while living overseas in Turkey, Italy, and the Philippines.

Changing Policies

Access to military bases overseas for military families and retirees has always been subject to change due to mission requirements, threat levels, natural disasters, and other variables.

Another factor? The DoD maintains “status of forces agreements” with all countries that host a U.S. military base. Changes in those agreements can lead to loss of access for certain groups of non-mission essential personnel.

That is part of what has informed the decision to close bases in Turkey to the U.S. retired military community. And these bases are not alone in considering such a move.

A Military Times article published on June 15, 2023, notes Aviano Air Base in Italy was considering restricting access from retirees, and similar plans in the Philippines were advanced but later put on hold.

But for U.S. military operations in Turkey, that restricted access is effective 1 October 2024, a modified start date some felt gave retirees more time; Military Times reports a memo issued by the commander of the 39th Air Base Wing at Incirlik Air Base on June 13  initially gave retirees a mere two weeks’ notice.

But what are those changes?

Military Retirees Lose Base Access In Turkey

As of 1 October, military retirees living in Turkey cannot access AAFES shops like the BX/PX; they can no longer shop in the Commissary or use the base post office.

More critically, barring retirees from these bases also means lost access to ID card services, updates in DEERS, the local TRICARE rep, and any other option formerly offered to retirees at these bases.

Losing access to the base Post Office doesn’t just mean having to make alternate arrangements for mail services. It also means changing how some retirees receive prescriptions under TRICARE and other plans.

Those under the TRICARE Express Scripts program know their medications may only be sent to U.S. addresses, including overseas military APO/AP addresses, which are technically on U.S. property as part of an overseas military base.

Another issue? How the loss of military APO/AP post office access may affect mail-in voting during federal elections.

Where These New Rules Apply

The following bases and remote locations in Turkey restrict their access for military retirees as of 1 October 2023:

  • Incirlik Air Base,
  • Izmir Air Station
  • Ankara Air Station
  • 425th Air Base Squadron
  • 717th Air Base Squadron


About the author

Editor-in-Chief | + posts

Editor-in-Chief Joe Wallace is a 13-year veteran of the United States Air Force and a former reporter/editor for Air Force Television News and the Pentagon Channel. His freelance work includes contract work for Motorola, VALoans.com, and Credit Karma. He is co-founder of Dim Art House in Springfield, Illinois, and spends his non-writing time as an abstract painter, independent publisher, and occasional filmmaker.