What You Need To Know About Marrying Into The Military
If you are marrying a service member, congratulations. You are about to join an elite community of people who have committed to serve their country in a profound and meaningful way. Youre on track to grow stronger and more self-assured and meet remarkable people and lifelong friends.
Make no mistake, military spouses are a vital part of the military itself, playing a major role in keeping service members happy, healthy and ready to serve.
Here are some things to know as you begin your journey as a military spouse:
What Are A Military Widows Death Benefits
July 20, 2015 by Elizabeth Bennett Colegrove
As a military wife whose military family has experienced tragedy, I know first-hand the devastation and sadness that these losses bring. I know what its like to get that phone call and then the relief when you find out its not your husband, but sadness when its someone elses. I know what its like to google, Downed F-18 Pilot every morning when I didnt have an email from my husband and I knew he was flying a mission.
During the most recent military tragedy in Chattanooga I saw a comment that suggested that the family of one of the deceased would be fine because they would receive death benefits. When I first saw the comment it made me absolutely angry! And as an MBA with a background in finance and accounting, I was seeing red.
After talking to my friend Theresa who has been through something similar, I realized that together, this was the perfect opportunity to educate people on what REALLY happens in these types of situations. Two points that we want to touch on is the importance of financial planning and military benefits from the eyes of a military widow.
Locate Your Local Offices That Help With Military Spouse Benefits
There are tons of programs out there aimed at helping service members and military spouses, but the biggest hurdle between you and access to these benefits is a lack of awareness. The best way to find programs and benefits that can help you specifically is to locate the offices on base that can help.
For instance, every branch has its own version of the Morale, Welfare, and Recreation program, commonly referred to as MWR. Call the phone number for base information or ask someone you know where you can find your local MWR office to learn about about what they can do to help you.
MWR can give you great discounts on tickets for things like amusement parts or upcoming events, they offer all sorts of fitness and sports programs, and can even help get you enrolled in educational programs aimed at helping you to develop new skills.
You can also find the education office on your base to discuss programs they may offer that can help you pursue the education or training you need to succeed in the field of your choice. One such program is called MyCAA, or My Career Advancement Account. As a military spouse, you can use this benefit to access up to $4,000 to help pay for licenses, certifications, or your associates degree.
To learn more about educational benefits for military spouses, check out the Spouse Education and Career Opportunities page on Military OneSource.
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Make Sure Youve Been Added To The Appropriate Military Systems
In order to receive your military dependent identification card, you will need to visit your local DEERS office. You will need to present one or two forms of civilian identification as well as your marriage certificate in order to be added to the system. DEERS will help to ensure you are included in your military spouses Tricare health insurance coverage.
If you just recently got married to a service member, their local administration shop will also need to be notified. Often, the service member will need to have their personnel record audited while adding a dependent in the system.
Remember, its essential that you are added both to your spouses administrative system and DEERS. Sometimes, these offices are co-located and can be handled on the same day, but on some installations, DEERS and administration are not co-located. DEERS will help to ensure you receive medical benefits, and administration will help to ensure your military spouse receives the correct pay and entitlements.
You Can Get Marriage Counseling And Family Support
MFLC is the Military and Family Life Counseling Program. A couple of great things they offer are individual and/or marriage counseling without any of it going on your record. They dont take notes and they can also meet you at an off base location if you choose to.
Check your local Fleet & Family Service Center. They offer insight on jobs available, fitness and recreation activities, family and youth activities and more.
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How Do Military Families Deal With Deployment
Ways of coping during this stage include: strengthening the support system, keeping busy and staying active, and making plans to break up the time . Children need consistency and routine, as well as individual attention from the non-deployed parent.
What benefits does military wife get?
Military marriages come with benefits. As a military spouse, you have access to career and education support, non-medical counseling, financial benefits and much more. All free and available 24/7.
Military Spouse And Family Healthcare
Active-duty military families — regardless of which branch of service their spouse serves in — receive benefits through the military’s healthcare, which is called Tricare. While Tricare is technically not an insurance company, it often operates a lot like one, helping military families receive healthcare and pay medical bills.
There are two kinds of Tricare that active-duty families, medically retired families and families of activated guardsmen and reservists can use: Tricare Select and Tricare Prime. You can learn about the differences between them here.
If you are a non-activated guard or reserve family, you can still use Tricare under the programs designed specifically for you. Learn more about them here.
Military retiree families can also receive Tricare. They use this set of Tricare programs.
Dental insurance is provided to military families through United Concordia . You can learn more about United Concordia dental coverage here.
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Benefits For Spouse Of A Military Retiree
Did you know that, as the spouse of a retiree, you may be eligible for a number of benefits? There are many things for which you may be eligible, including medical insurance, free legal assistance, property tax discounts and more.
While no list can cover all the benefits to which you are entitled, this page lists some of the bigger ones.
As the spouse of a military retiree, you may be eligible for:
The Army Emergency Relief Scholarships
Spouses and children of soldiers, who are on active duty, retired, or active on Title 10 orders for the entire academic year, are eligible to apply for their corresponding scholarship programs: the Spouse Education Assistance Program and the MG James Ursano Scholarship Program for dependent children. Both scholarships provide financial assistance for students who are pursuing their first undergraduate degree.
Scholarship applications are available on the Army Emergency Relief website and are accepted January 1 through April 1 for the following academic year unless the deadline falls on a weekend, in which case the due date will be the following Monday.
The Army Emergency Relief Scholarship program was established in 1976 as a secondary mission when the Army Relief Society disbanded. The Scholarship program provides funding for undergraduate college expenses to Army Spouses and children.
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How Much Does A Surviving Spouse Get From Va Disability
The basic monthly rate of DIC is $1,340 for an eligible surviving spouse. The rate is increased for each dependent child, and also if the surviving spouse is housebound or in need of aid and attendance. VA also adds a transitional benefit of $332 to the surviving spouses monthly DIC if there are children under age 18.
Shopping Childcare & Recreational Benefits
Active-duty military families can receive excellent discounts on everyday items. This is thanks to the “non-monetary compensation” they receive in forms of tax exemptions on products like furniture and electronics, assuming these are purchased at on-base department stores .
Most bases also have commissaries where groceries are sold at cost, saving military families hundreds to thousands of dollars every year on household necessities.
If you and your active-duty spouse have children, you may be eligible for affordable childcare, as well. If a waiting list for an on-base daycare center is too long or if you don’t live on base, the government can give you money toward tuition at approved off-site daycare facilities . Eligibility depends on largely on total household income and servicemember pay grades.
Lastly, if you live on base, you can likely participate in activities and programs offered through Military Welfare and Recreation . These activitiesincluding everything from gyms and swimming pools to golf courses and horseback riding facilitiesare subsidized by the government, making them far more affordable. Your family may even be eligible for discounted rates at select worldwide vacation resorts!
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Other Financial Assistance Options For Veterans
For service members who dont meet eligibility requirements, each branch of the armed forces has related “aid” or “relief” societies, which are non-profit organizations dedicated to providing assistance to military members and their dependents. Quite often, these agencies offer college scholarships, grants, or interest-free loans for dependent college education.
Each of the service-related societies has its own unique programs, eligibility requirements, program parameters, scholarship application forms, and decision processes.
Helping Spouses Receive Benefits
The service member is required to fill out paperwork that allows their spouse to receive benefits. This is known as the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System . It is the first step toward being approved to use all military facilities and receive all benefits.
It is helpful if the spouse keeps an original copy of the marriage certificate to settle any questions about the relationship. If children are involved, birth certificates and Social Security cards are needed for their enrollment. Everyone involved must have a Social Security card.
Once the paperwork is finished, make sure to get a military ID card for the husband, wife and all children over the age of 10. Other items to take care of include listing the spouse as a beneficiary on the life insurance policy, and checking to make sure your income tax status reflects your marriage and the state where you will be living.
There should be orientations for married people on base to be sure they understand what benefits they receive and where to go for help. Find the Community Service Center and direct any questions to them.
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Your Guide To Military Spouse Benefits
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Lets be honest: Most people wouldnt marry a service member just for the benefits. The challenges of military life far outweigh most of the monetary benefits of being a military spouse. We marry for love, not for benefits.
That said, once youre , youll receive a dependent ID card. You might as well get some use out of it.
These benefits are available to all military spouses, but you might not know about all of them.
Bah And Cola: Military Marriage Pay
Troops receive different pay levels based on whether they are married or have what is known in the military as “dependents.”
When a military member adds a dependent under his or her name in the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System , he or she gets a one-time bump in pay as a part of the Basic Allowance for Housing entitlement.
That money is given to troops to help them pay for housing, including some utilities. While technically not military marriage pay, the increase can feel like that since the service member gets it only by adding a dependent, often a spouse, to his or her personnel account.
Troops who are stationed overseas or at high cost-of-living assignments may also receive a cost-of-living adjustment with their pay.
Unlike BAH, which is increased only once, COLA is based on the number of dependents a service member has. For example, although having a child will not give your service member more BAH, he or she will see a small increase to COLA with every additional member of his or her household.
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The National Military Family Association Scholarship
The NMFA scholarship can be used by military spouses for both education assistance and employment purposes. The NMFA awards selected individuals with an average of $500 to $1,000 to achieve your education goals. You can use the award for any education purposes from degrees, certifications, licenses, to technical degrees.
This program typically offers applications to spouses twice a year so make sure to look both at the beginning of the year and the end.
Learn More About Other Qualifying Life Events
- https://www.dvidshub.net/video/embed/https://www.dvidshub.net/video/839861/tricare-qle-knowledge-plan-getting-married Congratulations on getting married! This is a TRICARE Qualifying Life Event that may impact your health plan options. Learn more at www.tricare.mil/marriage.
Your spouse must be command-sponsored to enroll in an overseas Prime option.
Sign up for email updates about your benefits.
As A Military Spouse You Get To Travel The World
Yes, the prospect of moving to a new city, state or country approximately every two years may sound daunting, but the upside is that when youre a military spouse, you get to see the world. The U.S. military has duty stations everywhere from Japan to Spain to Hawaii, giving you plenty of opportunities to see corners of the globe that some people only dream about.
If you get homesick on this military journey of yours, there is always the militarys home away from home that is, the USO. There are more than 250 USO locations across the U.S., Europe, Southwest Asia and Pacific regions, giving military spouses and their families a familiar and consistent place to turn to, no matter where their service takes them.
Spouse And Family Health Care Options
Your spouses TRICARE plan depends on where you live and your military status.
When two active duty service members get married, they’ll each have their own DEERS record. If they have children, only one parent is the sponsor in DEERS. For more information, call 1-800-538-9552 or log in to milConnect.
*You must enroll. If overseas, family members must be command-sponsored.
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Military Spouse Employment Partnership Program
The Military Spouse Employment Partnership provides employment resources for Family members through a corporate partnership initiative. Operated through Army Community Service centers in concert with the Employment Readiness Program , MSEP helps all Army Spouses: surviving Spouses, DoD Civilians, and Family members gain the competitive edge needed for employment by providing corporate and Federal partners willing to hire military personnel.
Impact Of Legal Separation On Entitlement To Military Benefits
Note that some states, such as Colorado, offer legal separation as an alternative to a divorce. The Department of Defense generally treats a legally-separated military spouse as married for purposes of entitlement to benefits. Per the joint regulation, Identification Cards For Members Of The Uniformed Services, Their Eligible Family Members, And Other Eligible Personnel, published under AFI 36-3036, Table 8.3 on p.122, a person remains a spouse until A final divorce, dissolution, annulment, or death occurs. Exception: Do not terminate a spouse when an interlocutory divorce or legal separation occurs. Moreover, para. 3.2 defines a former spouse as one who has gone through a divorce, dissolution, or annulment – no mention of legal separation.
In other words, a legally-separated spouse keeps the ID card, and access to all benefits the same as a married spouse, except that the issues of military retirement and SBP are determined at the time the decree of legal separation is entered.
Moreover, while the legally-separated spouse will not continue to accrue retirement benefits after the decree enters, the period of legal separation does count as marriage for purposes of former spouse medical and other 20/20/20 and 20/20/15 benefits discussed below.
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Education Benefits For Military Spouses And Dependents
Under the VA Dependents Educational Assistance program, surviving spouses who remain single are eligible to receive educational assistance benefits for up to 45 months after a death or disability as a result of active duty service.
Dependents Educational Assistance benefits can be used for the following:
- Degree programs at colleges and universities
- Accredited distance learning programs
- Vocational, business and technical training
- On-the-job training programs
Spouses also can receive help from the My Career Advancement Account , Memorial Scholarships or the Spouse Education and Career Opportunities program.
MyCAA provides tuitions credits of up to $2,000 a year toward an associates degree or professional certification at an approved college. Memorial scholarships are offered through the Veterans Affairs office at varying levels, depending on funding.
The SECO program does not offer money, but does offer help planning for a career and pointing you toward the resources needed to obtain a degree.
If the deceased service member contributed to the Montgomery GI Bill education program, the surviving spouse or dependents are entitled to a refund. Those who enrolled had $100 a month deducted from their pay for 12 months. Surviving spouses and dependents are entitled to the $1200, or whatever portion of that the military member contributed to the program.
Contact the St. Louis Regional Processing Office for details.
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