Being a military spouse comes with unique challenges, but it also offers some great benefits. From free classes on base to discounts at gyms and hotels, there are lots of opportunities to save money. The MyCAA program gives financial support to military spouses pursuing careers requiring licenses, certifications, or associate’s degrees. GI Bill benefits can also be transferred to spouses.
Military spouses often face unique circumstances that can impact their quality of life. From deployments and shift work to temporary duty stations, training programs, and family time limitations, it’s important for a couple to understand the military lifestyle, including the benefits they’re entitled to. Military benefits for spouses include healthcare coverage (Tricare), access to base facilities, educational assistance (GI Bill and MyCAA Program), and hiring preferences for some federal jobs. Depending on the service member’s rank, they may also receive additional allowances like the Basic Allowance for Housing.
Most married service members are automatically enrolled in the Defense Department’s health insurance, called TRICARE. This provides free on-base healthcare and a choice of off-base coverage with co-pays and deductibles. Another automatic benefit is on-base housing assistance, which includes both rent and utility discounts. Most bases also offer a range of classes to help new spouses adjust to the military lifestyle, from home ownership and budgeting to parenting and marriage counseling.
In addition, many on-base MWR offices (Morale, Welfare, and Recreation) provide a variety of activities for military families, from free festivals and events to discounts on local excursions and rental gear. Plus, you can usually get military discounts at restaurants and stores by showing your ID card. Ask your command ombudsman for details. Also, know that all states except Idaho, Louisiana, and North Dakota recognize the “married, filing separately” status of spouses for income tax purposes.
What Benefits Do Spouses Get From the Military?
While military life can be stressful, it does offer many benefits for spouses. One of the most important is automatic health insurance through TRICARE. This provides free care on base and options for off-base coverage with co-pays and a deductible. Another benefit is housing assistance, which allows a service member’s spouse to live in on-base barracks or receive Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH) to help pay off-base costs.
Spouses also have the opportunity to go back to school through various educational assistance programs. Each branch of the military has its own programs, so check with your service member for specifics. The GI Bill is an example of a program that is available to spouses and can help them get their first undergraduate degree.
Another great benefit for spouses is life insurance through SGLI. This affordable option is automatically deducted from your service member’s paycheck. Surviving spouses are eligible for a lump-sum death benefit in the event of a service member’s death.
Other military spouse and family benefits include discounts for child care at on-base Child Development Centers or home-based licensed Family Child Care providers. Access to on-base shopping through the commissary and exchange is also a perk for spouses. And when it comes time to PCS, most states provide military spouse unemployment compensation for a brief period of time.
How Much Money is Military Spouse Entitled to?
In addition to the monetary benefits of allowances, educational programs, and free housing, military spouses have access to a host of other services and support. These include:
Spouses of military members can take advantage of the Post-9/11 GI Bill, which provides up to $160,000 towards college tuition in the form of a monthly housing allowance (BAH), a book stipend, and education assistance. The GI Bill can be transferred to the spouse of a deceased service member if certain criteria are met.
Another financial benefit is the Military Family Relocation Allowance, which gives military spouses relocation expenses to move to a new state after a PCS. Military spouses also have access to unemployment compensation from most states when they lose a job as a result of a PCS. In addition, the Department of Defense’s Military Spouse Preference Program gives military spouses preferential placement in civilian jobs at Department of Defense installations.
Many other military spouse benefits are available for those who meet eligibility requirements, including health care coverage with TRICARE, commissary and exchange privileges, and on-base lodging. In addition, a former military spouse may be eligible for some income tax breaks.