Checklist for New Military Spouses


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Information for new Spouses

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Checklist for New Military Spouses

  1. 1. Checklist for New Military SpousesOverviewImportant information for new military spouses. • The basics • Health benefits • Financial and housing • Installation services • Other resourcesWelcome to the military family. As the husband or wife of a service member, you are an active participant inthe military lifestyle. You are also eligible for many benefits, including health care, shopping privileges, andaccess to installation recreation facilities and programs. Youll find it helpful to attend orientations andbriefings for military spouses, and to read information that comes to you. Once you arrive at the militaryinstallation, be sure to visit the Family Support Center as soon as possible to get up-to-date information onbenefits and services as well as to enroll in a spouse orientation program. In the meantime, here is a quickchecklist to get you started.Return to the TopThe basicsYour spouse, also known as your sponsor, is required to fill out all paperwork that will allow you to receivemilitary benefits. Taking care of the details below will help make the process move faster. • Obtain an original copy of your marriage certificate from the city, town, or county clerks office where the wedding took place. Youll need this before you and your spouse can get started on any paperwork. In some jurisdictions a marriage "certificate" and a marriage "license" are two different documents. Make sure that you are supplying the document that certifies that your marriage has taken place. • Ask your spouse to enroll you in the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System (DEERS). All service members and their family members must be enrolled in DEERS to receive medical benefits. This system is what allows the military to verify that only authorized people are treated in its facilities. It is up to your spouse to enroll you. He or she can do that at the uniformed services personnel office. To find the office nearest you, go to To enroll, you will need certain documentation, such as a copy of your marriage license and the birth certificates or Social Security cards of all family members, including children. More information about DEERS is available on the TRICARE site at • Get a military identification card from the ID card facility. To receive benefits as a military spouse, you will need an identification card. All family members, including children ages 10 and older, will need their own ID cards. Your card will provide you with access to military installations, exchanges, and commissaries, and will allow you to receive medical care. Check with the ID card facility on your installation to confirm which documents you need in order to receive a card. Typically, you will need your marriage license, birth certificate, photo identification, and Department of Defense Form 1172 (application form) to apply for an ID card. • Establish power of attorney. This will allow you to conduct business on your spouses behalf, which is particularly important if you spouse will be deploying soon. The installation Legal Assistance Office will help you establish power of attorney. More information, along with an office locator, is available at the Armed Forces Legal Assistance site at
  2. 2. • Register your vehicle. You will need a military sticker on your vehicle to drive on military installations. You can register your vehicle and get a sticker through the Provost Marshal or Military Police. Check with them to see what documents youll need, but expect to bring your drivers license, Department of Motor Vehicles registration, and proof of car insurance. • Ask your spouse to list you as a beneficiary on his or her Servicemans Group Life Insurance (SGLI) policy. This is also the time for your service member to update his or her record of emergency data sheet (DD Form 93). • Determine whether you should change your state and federal income tax status to reflect your marital status. Check with the Legal Assistance Office or Voluntary Income Tax Assistance program (VITA) on your installation to make sure you are doing what is right for your situation. • Memorize your spouses Social Security number. You will need it for all sorts of paperwork and forms. Until you memorize the number, you can always get it from the ID card.Return to the TopHealth benefitsTRICARE serves military families with several different health benefit options, including the following: • TRICARE Prime. TRICARE Prime is available to beneficiaries who live in a Prime service area. Patients sign on with a primary care manager and receive medical care from a list of authorized health care providers, often at a Military Treatment Facility (MTF). There is no deductible and co- payments are kept to a minimum when using the Prime network. Active-duty service members are automatically enrolled, but other eligible beneficiaries must complete an enrollment application. • TRICARE Prime Remote. This plan provides active-duty service members and their families with TRICARE Prime services when the sponsor lives and works at least 50 miles from an MTF. Family members of Reservists called to active duty may be eligible if the sponsor was living in a Prime Remote area on the effective date of his or her orders. • TRICARE Standard. Patients can see health care providers of their choosing. The plan offers the most flexibility of any TRICARE option, but the costs -- in the form of deductibles and cost shares -- are higher. • TRICARE Extra. This plan is essentially an option for TRICARE Standard beneficiaries who want to save money by using a TRICARE Prime network provider. • TRICARE Dental. United Concordia manages TRICAREs dental program for family members of service members. (Because active-duty service members receive dental care through their service branches, they are not eligible.) For details, visit the TRICARE Dental site at information on these and other TRICARE programs, including programs for Reservists, can befound at the TRICARE website at to the TopFinancial and housingIt can be important to understand your service members paycheck, especially if you are trying to maintain abudget while he or she is deployed. In addition to basic pay, your spouse may be entitled to additional paydepending on the branch of service, deployments, duty locations, and whether or not you live on installation. • Ask your spouse to update his or her pay status. This can be done when your service member changes his or her records and enrolls you in DEERS. • Familiarize yourself with your spouses Leave and Earnings Statement (LES). The LES tells you how much pay, allowances, and leave (vacation) time your spouse has. Visit the Military Compensation website to learn about basic pay and additional compensation (
  3. 3. • Apply for government housing. You can do this by putting your name on the waiting list at the housing office on your installation. If you prefer to live off the installation, ask the housing office for a list of available off-installation housing. If you live in installation housing, all your housing costs and utilities (except phone, Internet connection, etc.) will be provided, but your spouse will not receive an additional housing allowance in his or her pay.Return to the TopInstallation servicesA number of services are available on the installation to service members and their families. Depending onthe size of your installation, you may have access to: • Family Support Centers. This is your first stop for learning about living in the military or about a new installation when you relocate. The Family Support Center can help with relocation information, employment opportunities in the local area, personal financial education, information about local resources and services, personal skills-building classes, deployment-planning assistance, volunteer opportunities, outplacement assistance when your service member leaves the military, and assistance with crisis situations. These services are provided at no cost to you. Each service branch has a different name for its Family Support Center: • Army Community Service Center • Marine Corps Community Services • Navy Fleet and Family Support Center • Airman and Family Readiness Center • The exchange. The exchange is a retail store that offers tax-free goods at competitive prices. Its mission is to provide quality goods to service members and their families while using the profits to fund quality-of-life programs. For more information, or to shop online, visit one of the following websites: • The Army and Air Force Exchange Service ( • The Navy Exchange ( • The Marine Corps Exchange ( • The commissary. Commissaries are grocery stores operated on military installations by the Defense Commissary Agency (DeCA). Unlike commercial grocery stores, which are operated to make a profit for their owners, commissaries are operated as a benefit to active-duty service members, retirees, Guard and Reserve members, and their families. Commissaries sell groceries "at cost" plus a 5 percent surcharge that covers the construction of new commissaries and the modernization of existing stores. For more information, visit the DeCA site at • Legal Assistance Office. Most installations have a Legal Assistance Office where you can get free legal advice and services. For more information and a locator, visit the Armed Forces Legal Assistance site at • Child care. Military child care centers are tax-subsidized and therefore less expensive than private child care. Fees are based on income. • Recreation. Depending on your installation, these programs may include social clubs, fitness centers, bowling alleys, movie theaters, recreation equipment rentals, discount ticket offices for local attractions, and more. • Aid societies. Each branch of the military has a special assistance organization that provides emergency financial assistance. Your Family Support Center can help you with this process.Return to the TopOther resourcesYour military support services
  4. 4. Each service branch offers orientations and information for new spouses. These programs introduceparticipants to the military lifestyle while offering specific information about customs, traditions, mission, andresources. You can call or visit your installations Army Community Service Center, Marine CorpsCommunity Services, Fleet and Family Support Center, or Airman and Family Readiness Center to see if anew spouse orientation program is available.There are many more support services available for service members and their families. You can learnwhats available to you and your spouse by visiting your service branchs family support website: • Army Community Service Center at • Marine Corps Community Services at • Navy Fleet and Family Support Center at • Airman and Family Readiness Center at you arent near an installation, National Guard Family Assistance Centers are available in every state. TheLocal Community Resource Finder on the National Guard Family Program at www.jointservicessupport.orgwill identify your closest center.Military OneSourceThis free 24-hour service is available to all active duty, Guard, and Reserve members (regardless ofactivation status) and their families. Consultants provide information and make referrals on a wide range ofissues, including adjusting to life as a military spouse, parenting, dealing with deployment, relationships, andeducation. Free face-to-face counseling sessions (and their equivalent by phone or online) are alsoavailable. Call 1-800-342-9647 or go to to learn more.Return to the Top