Getting equipped to be a military spouse
Hello military community,
It has been 14 years since I became a military spouse and walked into a world with different rules, daily politics and a way of life I was unfamiliar with. As with all wives, I hoped to be an asset and contribute to my husband’s career and our future together. But first I had to learn about the military and everything involved with his career and the military expectations.
I wish I could say it came easy. Unfortunately it was not, and honestly I don’t know what part was or is the hardest to learn: The politics, emotional aspects of it, continual deployments, PCSing – the list goes on. This week, I will cover the basic things all newly married couples should know and put in place for the safety and well-being of their futures.
The first step is making sure spouses and dependents are registered in the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System (DEERS). This not only gets you on military bases but registers you to receive all benefits and important health care insurance and discounts. It is also required before obtaining a dependent ID card. So get registered ASAP!
While on base getting your ID card have your service member contact the HR Department and fill out the necessary paperwork to receive additional allowance pay for each additional dependent, change his SGLI beneficiary (life insurance), register your vehicle on base (if you reside there), fill out tax papers, update Tri-Care benefits and get powers of attorney and wills made (at legal command).
For those of you that live off base or post, your service member should make sure you not only know how to get on the base but where everything is located and the importance of base regulations like pulling over during colors, obeying speed laws and no talking on cell phones while driving. It is also important to be aware of dress codes, be familiar with acronyms and how to read a LES (Leave and Earning Statements) and how to address military leaders.
Connect with your Family Readiness Group or Ombudsman, learn about the unit you’re attached to and go to the meetings and family days. Not only will you meet other military spouses, you will learn vital information about deployments, resources and local activities for you and your family.
One of the best things about the military community is that we help each other through the good and bad times. There are resources all over the world to assist you not only during your transition into military life but also during the different changes and transitions. Don’t be afraid to reach out!
Each branch of service offers orientations for new spouses. These programs introduce new participants to the military lifestyle while offering specific information about customs, tradition, mission, and available resources. Check with your family center to see if your base offers U.S. Air Force Heartlink, U.S. Army Family Team Building, U.S. Marine Corps L.I.N.K.S. (Lifestyle, Insights, Networking, Knowledge and Skills) or U.S. Navy COMPASS.
There are also numerous support services available for service members and their families. You can learn what’s available for you and your spouse by visiting your family support service websites at U.S. Air Force Crossroads(www.afcrossroads.com ), U.S. Marine Corps Community Service (www.usmc-mccs.org) and U.S. Navy Fleet and Family Support Centers (www.ffsp.navy.mil ).
Make sure you take advantage of the great benefits offered to military families in order to get the R&R you need to keep going strong. Check out the military rewards program at www.lq.com/military, FREE Sitter-city membership for help with kids, pets, and housekeeping www.sittercity.com/dod, and other resources to help make your day-to-day life easier.
A couple of other quick tips: Memorize your spouse’s Social Security Number – you’ll need it constantly for forms, get to know the uniforms and rank insignia so you can learn the rank and service of people before you meet them. Don’t flog base rules, it will embarrass you and possibly hurt the career of your service member. Any suggestions you would like to add?
Blessings from my family to yours,
If you have any questions or concerns or would like to share a story or situation, contact me at Kim@MilitaryResourceBooks.com and visit my website at MilitaryResourceBooks.com for updated information and other resources not listed in my book.