Thank you to our very own Rose Holland for this fabulous blog!
Welcome to the life of a military spouse! It has been a few years since I was a new spouse (OK, a LOT of years) so I asked our readers what every new couple should know. Here is a list of 10 must dos for any engaged or newly married military couple:
1. Save the Date
You don’t actually need to invite them, but you need to notify the service member’s command 30 days prior to your wedding! (At least you don’t have to worry about an extra place setting)
2. Don’t be a DEER in Headlights
Now that you are married, the Service Member needs get their spouse registered in the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System (DEERS). This gets them registered to receive the all important health care benefits and is required before obtaining a dependent ID.
3. Identification Please
Get an ID card! This is vital. The spouse ID card allows him or her access to base and many services.
4. Get Paid to Get Married?!
Yes, you receive additional allowances for having dependents and your command can help you get these changed. So once you are married, go to your S1 and get your pay adjusted!
5. Make it Legal
The paperwork is not complete (and really won’t ever be so get used to it), Service Member don’t forget to change your SGLI beneficiary! The two of you should also visit your legal command and get powers of attorney and wills made. While it isn’t fun to think about the worst that can happen, being prepared for something to happen to either of you is wise.
6. Learn Installation Etiquette
Now that the initial paperwork is done you are all set, right? WRONG! Your spouse needs to know how to get on post/base! Make sure he or she knows to pull over during colors and to strictly obey the speed limit on post. Let them know the dress code . . . no, you do NOT wear your pajamas to go shopping on post. Help them know how to address military leaders, while they don’t need to salute they do need to learn how to properly address the leadership in your unit.
7. Talk the Talk
and it is up to you to learn your way. Don’t think you don’t need to just because you aren’t in the military. If you don’t I can promise you will have regrets! Go to your family center (Army Community Service/Fleet and Family Center/Airmen and Family Readiness Center/ Coast Guard Work Life) and sign up for AFTB (Army), COMPASS (Navy & Coast Guard) Heartlink (Air Force) or LINKS (Marines). These courses help you understand the strange world you have entered where acronyms are spoken and protocol is important. If they don’t have the courses at your installation, talk to someone at the family center and find out what programs they have for new spouses!
8. Be in the Know
Connect to your Family Readiness Group or Ombudsman. Learn about the unit you’re attached and go to the meetings and family days. Yes we know you aren’t in the military, but your spouse is and you’ll want to know when he/she will be around and when to prepare for deployment. These groups provide vital information that you will need!
9. Where to Turn for Help
Learn about your resources! One of the great things about the military community is that we are here to help each other through the good times and the bad. There are resources available to help you. Programs like Military One Source, Fleet and Family Center/Airmen and Family Readiness Center/Army Community Service/Coast Guard Work Life can help you as you make the transition to military life. Don’t be afraid to reach out.
10. Keep the honeymoon alive!
Make sure you take advantage of 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 LaQuinta Inns & Suites (www.lq.com/military) and lots of others at MilitaryOneClick.com!
Special thanks to Lori Hensic, Lana Smith, Roberta Sahagun and the many others who commented and provided insight.