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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?