You and your partner are married the moment you exchange vows, rings, and a kiss in front of friends and family. And when you pass through the sword arch together, stealing a kiss for your right of passage, you are leaving your civilian life behind with each step. Until with a swift tap on the rear you are welcomed wholeheartedly into this huge military family.
Welcome to the world of a military spouse. You will be eligible to a bevy of benefits spanning from shopping at the commissary to free healthcare. In order to access these benefits, you need to take the energy you spent meeting with caterers, addressing invitations in perfect looping script and transfer that drive into walking around base and filling out stacks of paperwork.
Family Support Services
When you arrive at your new military installation your first stop should be the family support center. They will help kick start your journey into military life and hand you a packet that will detail more than just the basics, including legal, financial, housing, deployment, children, spouse employment and education, and base services.
Keep this packet safe and refer to it often as you begin to check off your first steps in the beginning. Another great service family support centers offer during your first few weeks is an orientation to the base. Not only will you learn the ins and outs of the base, but you will also meet other military spouses new to the area just like you. Building a sense of community is the key to settling in so we suggest that anytime you move you visit one of these helpful orientations.
For spouses choosing to take their serviceman’s name, make sure to stop by your nearest Social Security Administration and DMV, with all the necessary documents, to change your name for both your social security card and driver’s license.
Get the ball rolling and have your spouse enroll you in Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System (DEERS.) They will need a copy of your marriage certificate, social security card, driver’s license, and birth certificate in order to enroll. This is highly important because once you are enrolled in DEERS you will receive the Department of Defense Form 1172 which is needed to enroll for your military ID.
Where Charlie had a golden ticket, you will have a military ID card which will allow you access to base, the gym, exchanges, and commissaries along with providing you with some favorable discounts at some stores and museums. In order to obtain this golden ticket, you must bring your marriage license, birth certificate, photo identification, and Department of Defense Form 1172 to an ID card facility on base.
Once you have your military ID card in hand, it’s time to register your car on base. This can be done at the Security Office on base and you will need to present to them your military ID, driver’s license, DMV registration, and proof of car insurance.
Have your service member update their Life Insurance (SGLI) policy to make you their primary beneficiary on their emergency data sheet or (DD Form 93).
Depending on the state in which your military installation is located, you could be facing some high taxes. With the help of a tax professional, legal office on base or the Voluntary Income Tax Assistance program (VITA), you can choose whether to stay with the state or change to a federal income tax in alignment with your marital status.
Plan to meet with a health care professional at the Health Center on base. They will outline the specifics of Tricare plans and Dental. If you are looking for a military doctor select Tricare Standard and if you are looking for a doctor off base select Tricare Prime.
While your serviceman may be studying flight procedures, you will need to do a bit of memorization yourself. Commit to memory your spouse’s social security (and your own at that.) This number will be needed on all forms and will help in times of emergency. Once you have the social security number memorized, tag on your spouse’s rank, department, e-mail, address, command name, and any other piece of information you may need to know when asked. Staying informed is your best tool.
To help keep you organized during this transition process, we’ve included a new military spouse checklist as a welcome freebie!
Once all the paperwork has been filled out, you can rest easy and enjoy your new marriage and military life.