Let's try again:
See text copied below, from the IRS Regulations under I.R.C. Section 121.
In the case of a taxpayer using more than one property as a residence, whether property is used by the taxpayer as the taxpayerâ€™s principal residence depends upon all the facts and circumstances.
If a taxpayer alternates between 2 properties, using each as a residence for successive periods of time, the property that the taxpayer uses a majority of the time during the year ordinarily will be considered the taxpayerâ€™s principal residence.
In addition to the taxpayerâ€™s use of the property, relevant factors in determining a taxpayerâ€™s principal residence, include, but are not limited to:
(i) The taxpayerâ€™s place of employment;
(ii) The principal place of abode of the taxpayerâ€™s family members;
(iii) The address listed on the taxpayerâ€™s federal and state tax returns, driverâ€™s license, automobile registration, and voter registration card;
(iv) The taxpayerâ€™s mailing address for bills and correspondence;
(v) The location of the taxpayerâ€™s banks; and
(vi) The location of religious organizations and recreational clubs with which the taxpayer is affiliated.
Having said that, a US citizen in the military does not reflect his primary place of residence by assignment location. If you buy a new home and it is to becomes your primary residence (ie not a rental) then you have no problem. If you rent it out, it is an investment property and you clearly can't live there and thus it is a "secondary" property.
To take advantage of your VA benefit, I suggest you wait until you are ready to come home and buy your "new" primary residence. The good prices will be with us a little longer, so you have time.
Greater Phoenix/ Central Arizona