Military Spouse Benefits
Per the Pentagon, over one million armed forces members have served in Iraq and Afghanistan since the horrific September 11, 2001 attacks. Iraq and Afghanistan are the longest combat missions since Vietnam. As the war efforts are winding down, the country braces to support its valiant heroes and their families.
Military spouses shoulder a unique burden and honor while their marital partner is deployed or being reintegrated into civilian life. They may have the responsibility of rearing the children, paying the bills and attending to ailing parents all while feeling the constant gnawing pangs of loneliness. The nation has collectively grown more conscious of the complex needs of military spouses due to awareness campaigns championed by various non-profits and high level philanthropists, statesman, and politicians. There are many resources available.
New Military Spouses
All of the military branches sponsor new military spouse orientations to address their unique concerns and needs.
The Military Spouse Residency Relief Act
This bill was ratified on Veterans’ Day 2009. Congressional intent was to lessen the state income tax filing burden on military families. Military members are permitted to retain their state of legal residence for voting, tax, and car registration purposes irrespective of where they are stationed. Spouses, by extension, have a reciprocal right provided that the sole reason for leaving their home state was a result of a Permanent Change of Station (PCS).
Serviceman’s Group Life Insurance (SGLI)
SGLI is a low cost life insurance benefit administered by the Veterans’ Administration. All uniform service members are immediately eligible and the default policy election is $400K. SGLI coverage now comes with a Traumatic Injury Protection rider which provides for an additional benefit in the event that a service member suffers traumatic injury. The benefit is on a graduated scale based on the extent/nature of the injury.
The military’s comprehensive health benefits plan is TriCare. Service members have three policy options with varying degrees of network flexibility. The United Concordia Dental Plan is offered to all active duty member dependents, enrollment is automatic. Care is provided to service members and their families onsite at Military Treatment Facilities (MTF) on a priority basis.
There are a variety of services readily available on military Bases to service military members and their families. The Family Support Centers are usually service aggregators. Many different offices are frequently housed in the Family Support Centers to substantively address the complex needs of military families. Other base services include legal aid center, commissaries, and child care facilities.
The Department of Defense sponsors Military Spouse Career Advancement Accounts (CAA). CAA targets military spouses with a GED, high school diploma, or some secondary education who are interested in a portable career. Educations and training costs are defrayed up to $3,000 annually with the opportunity for a one-time renewal. Vist your local Family Support Center to find out about other educational grants.