A Spouse’s Guide To Guard And Reserve Benefits After Active Duty

Military Benefits

Editor’s Note: This article by Amy Bushatz originally appeared on Military.com, the premier source of information for the military and veteran community.


If your service member is getting out of active duty and moving into the Guard or Reserves, you're about to start a journey into a whole new set of military benefits — and probably a lot of confusion.

If you've ever thought that the active-duty military's personnel system doesn't know what's going on, you're about to enter a higher level realm of disorganization and confusion.

Instead of getting frustrated over navigating what your benefits should be and how to get them, be informed. Our guide is based on experience. Yes, we've been there and done that.

Health benefits

You may have heard of transitional Tricare coverage, known as Transitional Assistance Management Program (TAMP). That program gives your family 180 days of Tricare Prime or Standard coverage after your spouse leaves active duty. Service members and their families qualify for it in a variety of ways, such as if they leave the military as the result of a forced separation or a medical board.

Usually, service members who simply get out of active duty at the end of their contract don't qualify for TAMP. But if you're moving directly from active duty into the National Guard or Reserve with no break in service, you do. To make that work, your service member must leave active duty on July 31, for example, and officially join the Guard or Reserve on Aug. 1. In other words, there cannot be a gap between active duty and Guard or Reserve service.

It is possible that your spouse may not sign in to his or her new Guard or Reserve unit until several days after the first of the month. In that case, his or her new unit can backdate the paperwork to reflect that your spouse entered the day after leaving active duty so that you can take advantage of the TAMP benefit.

If you do not qualify for TAMP, you can purchase Tricare through the Tricare Reserve Select program, which is a lot like Tricare Standard. That coverage kicks in on the first of the month after you join. That means if you join the Reserves or Guard during July, Tricare Reserve Select can start Aug. 1. If you join on Aug. 1, however, it cannot start until Sept. 1.

If you're used to using Tricare Prime, which has no co-pays or deductibles, Tricare Reserve Select may bring a few cost surprises, as you are required to pay out of pocket for things such as eye exams and sick appointments.

If you've been enrolled in Tricare's dental program, your coverage will end on the first day of the month following whenever you leave active duty. That means if you leave the military July 1, your coverage will go through July 31. You can continue your Tricare dental coverage while Guard or Reserve, but the premium is almost three times higher than you paid on active duty.

Shopping and recreation benefits

Guard and Reserve members can still shop in the commissary and exchange. If you are a spouse who loves the commissary, or you live in a high cost-of-living area where the commissary prices do make a big difference to your bottom line, this is great news. To shop there, you simply need to present your ID card when requested, just as you did before your family left active duty.

ID Cards

Now that you're a Guard or Reserve family, you'll need to get new ID cards. Instead of the brown one you've had before, your Guard or Reserve card will be red. It still identifies you as a military family member and it still works at the commissary or exchange. However, unless you are purchasing Tricare Reserve Select or Tricare's dental plan, you should not use this ID card for any health care.

If you qualify for TAMP, you'll also get a second ID card that is only for medical needs and has an expiration date that reflects your health care end date. It will not scan at the commissary, but it will let you get on base and it is what you should give your doctor's office when they ask for your military ID or health insurance card. Some ID card issuing facilities and DEERS offices may be confused about giving you two ID cards if you are both in the Guard or Reserve and using TAMP benefits. If you have TAMP and are Guard or Reserve, insist on receiving two cards so that you will be able to access all of your benefits.

Shopping discounts

Most businesses that offer military discounts won't know the difference between your new red Guard or Reserve ID card and the brown active-duty one you had before. But it's possible that some businesses will no longer extend discounts you're used to receiving because your family is no longer active duty.

Military discounts are totally at the discretion of individual businesses. If you're refused a discount because you are no longer active duty, just let it go and move on.

This article originally appeared on Military.com.

More from Military.com:

President Donald Trump could issue a pardon on Memorial Day for Navy SEAL Chief Eddie Gallagher, former Special Forces Maj. Matthew Golsteyn, and Marine Scout Snipers accused of urinating on Taliban corpses, the New York Times is reporting.

The White House is working with the Justice Department and military services to get the paperwork necessary for the pardons in order, according to the Times.

Read More Show Less

If the Pentagon had to take Consumer Math class in high school, they'd flunk.

The U.S. military—correction, the U.S. taxpayer—is spending more money to buy fewer weapons. The reason? Poor acquisition practices, according to a report by the Government Accountability Office (GAO).

"DOD's 2018 portfolio of major weapon programs has grown in cost by $8 billion, but contains four fewer systems than last year," GAO found.

Read More Show Less

Editor's Note: This article originally appeared on RFE/RL: Afghanistan.

KABUL -- An air strike has mistakenly killed at least nine Afghan police officers, including a commander, during a battle with the Taliban in the southern province of Helmand, local officials say.

They said that 14 officers were also wounded in the May 16 strike in the Nahr-e Saraj district , which is located outside the provincial capital, Lashkar Gah.

Read More Show Less
(U.S. Army photo)

Chuck Norris contains multitudes.

He's an Oklahoman and an Air Force vet, an actor and martial artist. The intensity of his badassery formed the basis of one of the earliest and most ubiquitous internet memes. He's a fictional member of Delta Force and a Texas Ranger, his beard a source of such virile endurance and strength that it makes Samson's biblical mane look like a bouquet of hobo pubes.

Now, Norris will live forever as the ultimate instrument of righteousness: an M1 Abrams tank.

Read More Show Less
Under Secretary Ryan McCarthy and New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu (center). Photo: Task & Purpose.

CONCORD, N.H. — The U.S. Army signed onto a partnership with the state of New Hampshire on Wednesday in the hopes of sharpening its recruiting edge.

Read More Show Less