New Milspouse
military benefits

New Military Spouse… Now What?!

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First of all, WELCOME!  I’m so excited to welcome a new sister or brother into the club!  You’re in for quite a ride!  New military spouse life is unlike any other.  While marriage is marriage, military marriage has one delightful difference from civilian marriage… PAPERWORK!

The paperwork starts on day one and never ends.  So how do you know where to start?  Well, you came to the right place.  Just follow this easy new military spouse checklist and you’ll be all set up to tackle the other hazards of milspouse life.

New Military Spouse Checklist #1: Visit DEERS

You literally cannot do anything else and basically won’t exist until you register with DEERS.  The Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System keeps track of all military service members and their dependents.  All benefits and services refer to DEERS to check eligibility.  So it’s super important.

DEERS will be your first indoctrination into some of the more frustrating aspects of military life.  Your spouse, also referred to as your sponsor, is the only person that can enroll you.  So even though you’re a totally competent, able bodied adult, you can’t do it by yourself.  But you’ll both have to be there.  So get it done ASAP, but you’ll have to align your schedules.

You’ll need to bring your marriage license, drivers license, birth certificate, social security card, and your spouse’s current orders.

New Military Spouse Checklist #2: Get an ID Card

This baby is like gold.  Seriously.  You won’t be able to do anything on base without.  Heck, you won’t even be able to get ON base.  You’ll use it to get on base, shop at the commissary, and it’ll double as your insurance card.

There’s an ID card office on almost every installation and in many cases it’s co-located with DEERS, so there’s the potential to kill two birds with one stone.  Just call ahead to verify what the deal is at your base.

You’ll need to bring your marriage license, social security card and driver’s license with you.  You’ll also need to bring Department of Defense form 1172 with you.  Don’t worry, they print it out for you when you finish registering with DEERS.

New Military Spouse Checklist #3: Health Care

The best benefit we receive as military families is our health insurance, TriCare.  Please visit the TriCare website to determine which type of coverage is best for you.  I’ve switched between both options for active duty families and you can read about my experiences here.

You just have to call TriCare and tell them which one you would like.  They’ll ask you your sponsor’s social security number as verification and for your birthdate to check the DEERS system.  Once upon a time they used to say you automatically have TriCare Select unless you state otherwise, but the rules constantly change so I suggest calling and double checking.

New Military Spouse Checklist #4: Power of Attorney

You absolutely need a POA.  More than likely, you’ll need two or three.  Back in the day when I became Mrs. CrazyMilspouse you could get away with one general power of attorney.  They don’t really work anymore and most places want a specific one outlining exactly what you’re allowed to do.

Without a POA you won’t be able to renew vehicles that aren’t in your name, break a lease, change your phone plan, the list goes on and on.  You might think that you won’t need a POA until deployment hits, but believe me, it’s worth having.  There will be long trainings and TDY schools that may pop up along the way.  Not to mention your spouse might just be doing an overnighter but that’s the day that your cell phone craps out.

New Military Spouse Checklist #5: Newcomers Brief

Now this one isn’t a complete necessity.  A newcomers brief usually happens once a week or once a month by ACS (Army Community Services), or a similar organization in other military branches.  They’ll explain all the services around the installation and where everything is.

You may not feel the need to do this if you’ve lived in the area or your spouse gave you the grand tour.  But I guarantee that there’s something that you missed or something that you didn’t even know that you needed.  Plus, you’ll meet other new spouses or families that are new to the area.

Being a new military spouse can be very overwhelming.  Especially since many of us marry under the sword of a looming deployment.  What questions do you have about this new life of yours?  If you’ve been married for a while, what do you wish you had known back then?

New Military Spouse Checklist

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19 Comments

  • Lindsay Joseph

    Wow! I could imagine that a lot hits you when you marry a military professional but I never thought about all this. That seems like quite a lot of endless paperwork on top of all the stress of being a newlywed.

  • Louise

    I don’t think I could ever marry into the military. I’m too selfish and want to spend lots of time with my significant other. I know that makes me sound like a terrible person. I really admire military wives. They must have the patience and understanding of a saint.

    Louise x

  • Helene

    Well, I am not married and I feel that marriage can be difficult. But I guess never so difficult and complicated as a military marriage. Your tips and suggestions sound very helpful for the new military couples.

  • chelf

    This all new to me, I have no experience at all in this area. I had no idea you need an ID card and that it gets you places! It’s great that you are so informed and aware of things!

  • Kim

    I hope those spouses who need this information will find it easily. I like how you have set out everything clearly so it is easy to follow.

  • Reesa Lewandowski

    Ah I remember being a young military wife!!! This all seems scary at first, but before you know it, it’s all an old hat!

  • Angela Tolsma

    I have never heard of having more than one POA. So that’s something I would definitely be curious about even though I am not in the military and neither is my partner. It’s amazing how much paperwork one has to go through to just get base things somethings.

  • Christa

    This provides such helpful information! I can’t imagine all the extra work (and stress) a military marriage would be. Thank you so much for the sacrifices you and your family make for our country.

  • Yona Williams

    I’m sure this list will be a help to new military spouses. I had no idea how much paperwork went into the process. It’s cool how one card can serve as access to multiple services…but probably REALLY scary if you misplace or lose it.

    • ThatCrazyMilspouse

      It is the WORST when you lose it. I once lost mine while I was out running errands. We lived on the military installation at the time and our son went to school on the army post. I couldn’t get back home! I had to call a neighbor who also had a child at the school to pick up my son and then she met me at the gate and bought me on post as a guest. I couldn’t leave my house until I got it replaced!

  • Stephanie

    I’ve always heard it’s a lot of paperwork when you are married to the military. I remember my mother-in-law saying that having that POA was such a lifesaver. There were a few times she had to sign for selling and buying homes when he was away for work.

  • Lois Alter Mark

    Though I have no personal experience with being a military spouse, I can only imagine how helpful these tips are during an otherwise overwhelming shift. So glad there are resources (such as yourself!) out there to make things a bit easier for our troops and their loved ones.

  • Michelle Catallo

    Truth throughout your list; (Navy) Fleet and Family Services is a wonderful way ahead, plus the Navy and Marine Corps Relief Society helps those in need. Never forget Chaplain services; never be afraid to ask the questions nor talk to those that are in the place to help. My 2¢

    • ThatCrazyMilspouse

      My husband and I were married by a chaplain and did premarital counseling with a chaplain. Such a fantastic resource. We’ve also loved marriage retreats run by the chaplains. One of the units my husband was in even did women’s retreats. One of my favorite benefits of military life!

  • KIm

    Oh my mom told me there was a lot to the military life. I was only a kid, so I had no idea. I’d better share this info with my grandson’s and their ladies so they’re prepared. You’ve been such an incredible resource xo

    • ThatCrazyMilspouse

      I didn’t realize you were part of a military family. No matter how directly or not, it changes a family! Thank your grandson’s for their service. Such a blessing to have people so ready and willing to serve their country! Also, if their spouses ever have any questions please let them know about me. I’m a certified new spouse sponsor through Army Community Services and I can help lead them in the right direction!

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