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I’m a New Military Spouse, Now What?

Overjoyed husband swings happy wife, excited to move in new home together.

Congratulations, and welcome to the military family!

We understand how intimidating it can be transitioning into the military lifestyle, especially if you have no previous experience with the military. You will soon find out that military life comes with a lot of paperwork, and we do mean a lot!

So, how can you get started now that you are officially a military spouse? To keep track of it all, we put together a new military spouse checklist of the most urgent items to tackle.

#1 Register for DEERS

Your first priority as a military spouse should be getting into DEERS. The Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System, or DEERS, is a database of military-affiliated people worldwide entitled to Tricare and other benefits.

Enrolling in DEERS is the first step because it allows you to register for Tricare and get your military-dependent ID (and you will use your ID for everything).

Retired and active-duty service members are automatically signed up for DEERS, but family members aren’t, so you’ll have to ask your spouse to enroll you. Your military spouse has to be the one to get this started!

How to Add Spouse to DEERS

Service members, you can enroll your spouse in DEERS by visiting the nearest ID card-issuing facility or by filling out DD Form 1172-2 and submitting it through the ID Card Office Online.

Required documents include:

  • An original copy of your marriage certificate
  • Your spouse’s birth certificate
  • Your spouse’s social security card
  • Two unexpired forms of ID (one must be a photo ID)

After your spouse is initially enrolled for DEERS, you should be able to update or renew information online.

#2 Get Your Military Identification Card

Next, you should get a military identification card as soon as possible. You will need it for everything. Even kids 10 and older will need ID cards. This is how you access all the necessary services in the military, including base access, exchanges and commissaries, even medical care. Most military installations have an ID card facility where you can get your ID card.

How to Get a Spouse Military ID

After you’re enrolled in DEERS, you will be eligible to receive your military ID. You can schedule an appointment at your area's nearest ID card-issuing facility to get a new military ID card. You will need to bring the same required documents as your DEERS registration in addition to form DD1172-2.

#3 Establish Power of Attorney as a Military Spouse

This step is very important, especially if your spouse is scheduled to deploy. Power of Attorney (POA) gives you authority or permission to conduct business in your spouse’s place when they are unreachable or unavailable. This includes acting on your spouse’s behalf when it comes to legal or financial matters. You can even use POA to purchase a home with a mortgage.

Military Legal Services are available on most military installations and will help you establish power of attorney for free.

We’ve included a Sample POA request form for you to review.

#4 Update Emergency Contact Information

Ensuring your partner’s well-being is a top priority. Don't forget to ask your service member to update their record of emergency data sheet (DD 93) for peace of mind during their military service journey. Form DD 93 lists who to contact and immediate directions in case of serious injury, illness or death.

DD 93 is also used to designate beneficiaries for benefits such as the Death Gratuity Program beneficiary. This program provides a one-time, tax-free payment to the surviving spouse, children, or designated beneficiaries of the deceased service member who died during active duty.

#5 Check Your SGLI Coverage

SGLI, or Servicemembers' Group Life Insurance, is a life insurance program offered to members of the U.S. military. In the event of the insured service member's death, SGLI pays out a tax-free benefit to the designated beneficiaries, helping provide financial support to the family or loved ones.

After you get married to a service member with full-time SGLI coverage, you are automatically added as an SGLI beneficiary during DEERS enrollment. You are also automatically enrolled for FSGLI (Family Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance), which will provide coverage for your family in the event of your death.

Service members can check and manage benefits using the SGLI Online Enrollment System.

#5 Decide if You Want to Enroll in TRICARE

As a military spouse, you are eligible for TRICARE benefits. You have several different health and dental coverage options available to you, but you have to enroll separately. Remember that you must be registered in DEERS to choose a plan.

To explore your options, visit TRICARE’s website.

#6 Discuss How You Want to File Taxes

Decide if you need to change your state and federal income tax status to reflect your marital status. You can consult your tax professional or the installation’s Voluntary Income Tax Assistance program (VITA) to make sure you receive proper tax advice.

#7 Discover Your Housing Benefits

A benefit of getting married to a service member is being able to live with them on base.

If you decide to live in military base housing, rent and base utilities are free. If you choose to live in private housing, your spouse will receive Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH) to help cover the costs.

The housing office on your military installation can put you on the waiting list for housing, usually with minimal paperwork. The base housing office is typically an excellent resource for finding private housing as well.

You should also know that your family may be eligible for financing through a VA home loan.

While military spouses can't qualify for benefits on their own, Veterans and service members have full access to the VA loan benefit.

You can talk to a VA home loan expert anytime at 855-524-7279 if you have questions about the VA loan.

The role of a new military spouse can be both rewarding and demanding. Becoming a new military spouse is an adventure in itself, with a unique set of challenges and responsibilities. By prioritizing these essentials, you're well on your way to navigating this exciting yet sometimes challenging lifestyle with confidence.

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