Being a military spouse is no easy job, but there are some great benefits available specifically to MilSpouses that can help make the job just a little bit easier.
Whether you’re a stay-at-home mom keeping things running smoothly on the homefront or you’re a career-driven professional with a loved one in uniform, there are programs available that can help you succeed, excel, and even enjoy your time living the military spouse lifestyle.
While this article won’t provide a complete list of programs you can take advantage of, it will equip you with the know-how you need to find and utilize the right benefits for you.
Keep copies of all your important documents
In order to take advantage of many military spouse benefits, you’ll need documentation to prove who you are and that you are indeed married to a service member. These papers won’t just help you take advantage of spouse programs, they’ll also help you take care of important day-to-day tasks that your uniformed spouse may not be able to attend to as quickly (especially when they’re deployed).
Make sure to keep the original or copies of:
- Your marriage certificate
- Your spouse’s orders to your current duty station
- Your social security card that reflects any name changes (for instance, a change to your last name after getting married).
- Your military identification card
Make sure you’ve been added to the appropriate military systems
In order to receive your military dependent identification card, you will need to visit your local DEERS (Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System) 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 spouse’s 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, it’s essential that you are added both to your spouse’s 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.
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 associate’s degree.
To learn more about educational benefits for military spouses, check out the Spouse Education and Career Opportunities page on Military OneSource.
Your base’s legal office is also important to locate. If you and your service spouse are considering divorce, for instance, you can get help understanding the situation from your base legal office.
Getting help with the biggest challenges
While there are lots of programs aimed at helping you excel in your chosen field, the military also offers a number of programs aimed at helping military families overcome difficult challenges at home as well.
The Military and Family Life Counseling Program can help you, your spouse, or even your children cope with difficult aspects of military life like deployments. It can also help you manage the rigors of marriage in the military, which offers as many unique challenges as it does rewards.