Let’s be honest: Most people wouldn’t 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 you’re married and enrolled in DEERS, you’ll 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.
Healthcare — Spouses and Dependents are Eligible for Tricare Prime
All military dependents (spouses and children) can enroll in Tricare health insurance. This is a free benefit. However, there can be some costs depending on the plan you choose.
Tricare Prime allows family members to receive free health care services and medicine on base at a military hospital or clinic. There are no enrollment fees, co-pays or claims paperwork for Prime.
If you enroll in Tricare Standard, you have increased options for off-base providers. However, you’ll be charged co-pays and be responsible for an annual deductible.
Spouses can also opt to receive dental insurance through United Concordia, which charges a low monthly fee.
Life Insurance with FSGLI
Service members are automatically enrolled in Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance (SGLI), which is deducted from their military paycheck. Spouses have the option to enroll in the Family Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance (FSGLI) for an additional deduction from the service member’s paycheck.
There are different rates for varying levels of life insurance from $10,000 up to $100,000. The rates are generally very affordable. However, you cannot take FSGLI with you when your spouse leaves the military. So it’s a good idea to look into additional life insurance outside of FSGLI.
Once a service member marries, they’ll no longer live in the barracks. They’ll receive either base housing or BAH (Basic Allowance for Housing) if they choose to move off base.
Housing benefits depend on the service member’s rank and the number of dependents. It’s adjusted for the varying costs of living throughout the country.
This is a service member benefit. The spouse can live with them either on or off base and enjoy the assurance of being able to pay rent whether or not the spouse has found a job.
Military spouses who want to earn a college degree or professional certification have two options: The MyCAA program and the Post-9/11 GI Bill.
MyCAA is the Military Spouse Career Advancement Account. It provides up to $4,000 to military spouses pursuing a license, certification or an associate’s degree. Only spouses of service members from ranks E-1 to E-5, W-1, W-2, O-1 or O-2 are eligible. You can learn more about the MyCAA Program here.
The second option is the service member’s GI Bill. These benefits can be transferred to a spouse (or to children) to pay for education either during the service member’s active-duty commitment or after the service member has left military service.
Children can use the GI Bill up to age 26. Spouses can use the GI Bill up to 15 years after the veteran’s service has ended. This article covers more information about transferring GI Bill benefits to family members.
Hiring Preference for Jobs
The military spouse hiring preference is an initiative to give military spouses an advantage when applying for certain federal job positions.
The spouse must have relocated because of the service member’s PCS orders, be professionally qualified for the federal job and request spouse hiring preference during the application process.
The program does not guarantee that a spouse will be selected for a job. Plus, it cannot be used when applying for a job in the private sector.
To learn more about this program, read here.
If you have children, you can benefit from the discounted child care rates at the base CDC (Child Development Center).
Each base has at least one CDC, but many locations have a long waiting list and give preference to dual-military families or spouses with full-time jobs.
If you aren’t able to use the CDC, you may use an in-home FCC (family child care) provider on your base. This is a certified child care provider who watches kids at their own home on base, under the supervision of the CDC.
Both the CDC and the FCC locations meet federal standards for child care and offer quality care at an affordable rate.
A dependent ID card makes you eligible to shop the discounted stores on base such as the Exchange, the Commissary and the gas station. Military spouses also qualify for military discounts at some retail stores.
It never hurts to show a military ID at checkout and inquire if there’s a discount.
Vacation and Leisure Benefits
When saving up for a vacation or looking to cut loose for a little bit, military spouses can benefit from special prices on base.
The MWR (Morale, Welfare, and Recreation) office on each military base offers a variety of activities throughout the year. You can attend a free festival on base or participate in a local excursion at a discounted rate.
MWR also manages the Recreation Checkout program, which provides discounted rentals on a variety of outdoor items, such as backyard BBQ party supplies or camping gear.
If you prefer to visit off-base locations or amusement parks, then the ITT (Information, Tickets, and Tours) office on base should be your first stop.
ITT offices are located on most military bases. They provide special military discount tickets to local attractions, sporting events or shows. You can also find discounts for amusement parks around the country if you’re planning a longer trip.