Military spouses face many challenges, but there are also numerous benefits, ranging from educational to employment opportunities. You’ll receive some of these programs automatically upon your spouse’s entrance into military service or your marriage, while you will need to seek out others. Listed below are five of the top benefits available to military spouses.
1. My Career Advancement Account Scholarship (MyCAA)
One of the most-advantageous programs military spouses can access is the My Career Advancement Account Scholarship program. This program offers military spouses up to $4,000 in financial assistance to pursue a license, certification or associate’s degree at an approved MyCAA Program school.
Spouses of active-duty, Guard and reserve members holding the ranks of E-1 to E-5, W-1- to W-2 and O-1 to O-2 are eligible. They must apply for the program while their spouse is on Title 10 military orders.
2. Health Care Insurance
Active-duty service members and their dependents qualify for Tricare, the military’s health care program. Spouses and other family members can receive a wide range of services, which may include preventive care, mental health care, prescriptions, vision and dental. Health care coverage and costs, including deductibles and co-pays, depending on the plan you choose.
3. Family Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance (FSGLI)
Military spouses can get up to $100,000 in Family Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance coverage, with premiums as low as 45 cents per $10,000 of coverage. The spouse’s coverage cannot exceed your the service member’s SGLI coverage. Children can also be insured – at no cost – for $10,000. Contact your Military Personnel Office for enrollment information.
4. Transferred GI Bill Benefits
Once service members reach the required time in service, they can transfer their education benefits to their spouses and children. Spouses can use the GI Bill benefits for up to 15 years after the service member separates from the Armed Forces. Children may use the benefits until they reach 26 years of age. Children may also be eligible for additional benefits, such as monthly housing allowances. Your installation’s Education Office and the Veterans Affairs office can provide additional details.
5. Military Spouse Preference (MSP) Program
The Department of Defense recognizes that military spouses contend with additional challenges caused by frequent moves. Under the Military Spouse Preference program, eligible spouses of active-duty service members can receive preferential employment placement in vacant DOD civilian positions. Explore current vacancies at the DOD Civilian Career site.
More Military Spouse Benefits
- Military Spouse Scholarships: Spouses can access several available scholarships including federal and state, military branch-specific, nonprofits and milSpouse club scholarships.
- Free On-Base Classes: Most bases offer free classes to spouses, including some that will help you overcome military life’s challenges from permanent change of station and deployments to new babies or new jobs.
- Military Discounts: Many businesses extend military discounts to spouses.
- National Park and Federal Recreational Land Pass: The National Park Service offers free annual passes to more than 2,000 recreation areas to active-duty military members, spouses and their dependents.
- Morale, Welfare and Recreation: From bowling alleys, cinemas and event tickets to childcare services and hobby shops, MWR offers a variety of free and low-cost opportunities.
- Commissaries and Exchanges: The commissaries and exchanges offer groceries sold at cost and name-brand retail products at discounted pricing plus no sales tax.
- Military Lodging, Hotels and Travel: From cottages at the beach to cabins in the mountains, there are plenty of affordable destinations for a great family trip. If you are flexible with time and location, you can also look into Space-A Travel.
- Housing and Basic Allowance for Housing: Most military bases offer free housing, and, if you live off base, there is a basic allowance for housing (BAH) compensation.
- Marriage Family Counseling: Military OneSource offers free, confidential face-to-face counseling, and Military Family Life Consultants (MFLC) are on base at the Family Support and Readiness Center.
- Legal Assistance: Spouses can take advantage of a host of no-cost legal assistance services through Military OneSource or legal assistance centers. These services can help make sense of a lease agreement, create an estate plan or provide legal guidance on adoption.
- Financial Education and Resources: Through the DOD’s MilSpouse Money Mission, you can get free financial education and resources from certified financial planners, professionals and accredited financial counselors.
- Military Spouse Tax Benefits: The Military Spouses Residency Relief Act allows spouses to claim their original states of residence on their taxes, which is a significant benefit when that state has a lower tax rate.
- Employment Opportunities: There are a variety of employment programs and events for military spouses including the Military Spouse Employment Partnership through Military One Source and opportunities through Hiring Our Heroes.
- License Transfer: Many states offer military spouses some type of license transfer benefit, including permanent or temporary licenses or expedited processing.
- Unemployment Compensation Due to PCS: Most states, but not all, offer military spouse unemployment compensation due to a permanent change of station.