Military OneSourceUpdated: March 29, 2021
Military OneSource is a Department of Defense program designed to help active duty, National Guard, and Reserve members and their families cope with the rigors of military life.
The program offers numerous resources including counseling, advice, and other free assistance to qualifying military members and families on a confidential basis.
These services are available on the phone or online 365 days a year, 24/7.
The counseling and related services are non-medical and cover a variety of areas. Some of the counseling and resources are directly related to coping with deployments, frequent moves, and the military lifestyle in general. Other areas where help is available include financial consultation, tax preparation, education, disability care, and spouse employment.
How Do I Contact Military OneSource to Get Started?
Qualifying military and family members stationed in the United States should call 800-342-9647. Those stationed outside the continental United States should call 800-342-9647 or 703-253-7599.
Calling Military OneSource from an overseas location may require specific dialing codes in addition to the 1-800 and 1-703 numbers provided. You can visit the Military OneSource official site to search for dialing instructions for your overseas location.
Is There A Fee for Military OneSource Services?
No. Military OneSource is a Department of Defense program and is not a for-pay or for-profit operation. All who are eligible may use the benefits available 24-7 without charge.
Who Is Eligible for Military OneSource?
The Military OneSource official site lists the following groups of eligible service members and families:
- Active duty
- Immediate family of active-duty service members that includes spouses, dependent children, and those with legal responsibility for a service member’s children during separation
- National Guard and Reserve members and immediate family members regardless of active status, Standby Reserve status or Individual Ready Reserve status
- Coast Guard members activated as part of the Department of the Navy under Title 10 authority and their immediate family members
- Survivors of deceased service members to include un-remarried spouses and children of active-duty, National Guard and Reservists of any activation status or cause of death
- Medically discharged service members enrolled in a Wounded Warrior type program
- Immediate family, parents, and caregivers of wounded warriors, seriously ill / injured service members
- Military retirees immediate family
- Discharged service members (without a punitive discharge) and immediate family
- Qualifying Department of Defense “expeditionary civilians” and their immediate families
Those who meet the criteria above are eligible for all Military OneSource services. There are other groups of qualifying military members/veterans and family members that may qualify for “limited services” which include online services and webinars, call center consultation and services, and language translation services for documents and for telephone translation.
Those eligible for such limited services include:
- Non-military/non-spouse such as a domestic partner or an ex-spouse who is the parent of a child eligible for Military OneSource assistance
- DoD civilians, National Guard and Reserve employees, government contractors, state civilians, contractors and organizations may qualify if they are eligible under another Military OneSource category such as a DoD civilian who is the spouse of a qualifying service member
A third group of military and military-related people may be eligible for certain Military OneSource assistance via online services and web-based content, plus call center assistance:
- Parents/extended family of active-duty, National Guard and Reservists who need help with areas “directly related to the service member or on behalf of the service member” including siblings, grandparents, adult dependent children, and legal guardians
- Those enrolled an in accredited ROTC program
- Delayed-entry military recruits, future recruits, and immediate family members of those with a “non-binding, but promissory contract” with one of the branches of the military
- Military Service Academy cadets
Are Veterans Eligible for Military OneSource Assistance?
Veterans have access to Military OneSource benefits for a full year after separation or retirement, an increase from the original 180 days. This change was implemented as part of the John S. McCain National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal year 2019.
What Services Are Available through Military OneSource?
There are many subject matter areas the site addresses with resources, information, opportunities to get counseling or learn more, etc. They include:
- Confidential help/counseling
- “Non-medical” counseling
- Education & Employment
- Spouse Relocation & Transition
- Moving & Housing
- Health & Wellness
- New MilParent
- Special Needs
- Transitioning Veterans
- Wounded Warrior
- Tax Resource Center
- Elder Care
- Installation Lookup
There are two basic categories of services qualifying military and family members may be eligible to use. They are:
- Non-medical counseling on a confidential basis to help cope with deployments, family separation, reunions after deployments, reintegration to a non-deployed environment, marriage issues, grief, financial issues, and much more.
- Coaching/consultation is available in areas including consulting on wounded warrior issues, elder care, special needs family members, education, adoption for military families, etc.
What Are Some of The Most Utilized Services Offered via Military OneSource?
The Military OneSource official site lists a variety of frequently-utilized specialty areas which include:
- Financial counseling to include budgets, debt counseling, and advice on purchasing a home
- Tax prep help
- Health and wellness
- Peer support service that puts qualifying military and family members in touch with others who have experienced similar issues for which the service member or family member seeks advice or counseling
- Relocation assistance
- Advice/counseling about elder care, adoption, special needs, education, and relocation/PCS moves, careers, etc.
What Are The General Categories of Information and Help Available?
The official site lists the following general areas of information. The help available is not necessarily limited to these categories but this list is a good way to get started:
- Confidential Help
- Military Life Cycle
- Family & Relationships
- Moving & Housing
- Financial & Legal
- Education & Employment
- Health & Wellness
- Recreation, Travel & Shopping
- Service Providers & Leaders
Any veteran, spouse, or dependent in need of confidential help should go to that page on the official site or call 800-342-9647 right away. That number IS listed at the top of the Military OneSource official site but there’s nothing at the top of the site that indicates that is the number to call if you need such assistance.
“Confidential Help” is a catch-all phrase for the type of assistance available in all subject matter areas. Those in uniform, their families, and eligible veterans can take advantage of this assistance without worry that their careers will be affected by seeking help.
Military Life Cycle
Military OneSource provides many resources to help service members and their families navigate the military life cycle, from assistance for basic training all the way through separation from the military and transitioning to civilian life. Resources include:
- New to the military: information on moving benefits, food and housing, health care, educational benefits and training, deals and discounts, and more
- Deployment: resources for pre-deployment, such as Plan My Deployment, webinars on getting through deployment for family members, and help with finance management; resources for during deployment, such as counseling, and where to find emergency financial support; post-deployment resources, designed to help service members and families after a deployment
- Reintegration programs to help National Guard and Reserve members transition back into the workforce after being deployed
- Benefits and resources for spouses: information on living on an installation, as well as employment and education resources for spouses
- Parenting and children: support and resources for new parents, information on childcare, and resources for kids and teens
- Special needs: information on the Extraordinary Family Member Program, special needs consultants, and special education resources
- Relationships: resources for building healthy relationships and links to counseling
- Survivor and casualty assistance: information on casualty assistance, long-term care, resources for Gold Star families, and bereavement counseling
Military Spouse Benefits
Military spouses who need to know more about their benefits, rights, and programs offered should explore the Spouse Benefits section of the site right away as this is a centralized collection of programs, links, and contact information for a diverse range of programs open to military spouses for education, training, and more.
Moving and Housing
Moving is a big part of military life, so Military OneSource offers many different resources to help service members and their families transition to a new home:
- Moving and housing: information on transportation, contact information for various installations, and information on relocation assistance
- OCONUS moves: information on moving logistics, packing, and adjusting to a new country
Finance and Legal
The finance and legal resources provided by Military OneSource are designed to help with mission readiness by providing information on paying off debt, saving for college or retirement, and creating financial plans.
There is in some circles a great deal of misunderstanding as to a military member’s legal options with the base legal office. If you need advice on how to get legal representation, powers of attorney, last wills and testament, or other issues, the Legal Resources page has a lengthy list of information and sources of help.
Military Tax Prep Resources
There are resources for free tax assistance and much more at the MilTax page including links and phone numbers to free prep and free tax advice.
Education and Employment
Military OneSource provides education and employment resources for:
- Service members
- Children and youth
Health and Wellness
Being healthy is vital for family and military readiness, and for service members to be able to perform their home and work responsibilities to the best of their ability. Military OneSource does not provide direct health care, but it does provide resources to help service members and family members stay as healthy as possible.
- Health care resources: information on TRICARE, the VA, health and wellness coaches, and TBI and PTSD
- Healthy living: information on the Healthy Base Initiative, nutrition and fitness resources, and resources for overall wellness
- Mental health: information on the Military Crisis Line, resources for victims of abuse and assault, information on PTSD, and resources for substance abuse
- Wounded Warriors: programs to support wounded warriors; information and resources for caregivers; emotional health support; resources for mobility and other accommodations
- Caregivers: links to non-medical counseling; information on the Military and Family Life Counseling Program, Military Caregiver PEER Programs, and Caregiver Resource Directory
- Recreation, travel, and shopping: information on Morale, Welfare, and Recreation programs; installation youth centers; Department of Defense camps and Operation Purple camps; fitness resources; Information, Tickets, and Travel Office; American Forces travel and military lodging; commissary and exchange services
MilLife Learning provides resources to help service members and their families learn at their own pace. There are many different courses available for free, on topics including:
- How to use LinkedIn
- EFMP information for families
- EFMP Family Support Staff Training
- Morale, Welfare, and Recreation (MWR)
MilLife Learning also offers free online courses, taught by experts, that can be taken anywhere. MilLife Learning is part of the Military OneSource network of resources and programs designed for members of the military and their family to help make learning accessible from anywhere in the world. Courses and content are designed specifically for military life, and there are many different courses to choose from. New courses are added to the site frequently. The courses currently available include:
- Casualty assistance: provides an overview of benefits and resources for survivors
- Community Capacity Building: includes ways to increase organizational capacity, as well as ways to promote positive change in communities
- eSponsorship Application and Training: provides resources and necessary information for service members to be sponsors; also introduces family members to the sponsorship process
- Family Advocacy Program: designed to help clinicians and supervisors conduct thorough risk assessments and evaluations of domestic abuse and partner violence
- Military Family Programs: covers topics relevant to family readiness and military life; designed for Family Program staff
- Money Matters: provides basic information on strategies for investing and managing finances
- Morale, Welfare, and Recreation: designed for MWR staff and program managers; provides guidance on delivering MWR programs that are inclusive of all members of the military community
- The Exceptional Family Member Program: designed to educate and empower families of individuals with special needs
- Relocation 101: designed for relocation-assistance providers; includes tools for helping service members and their families prepare for moves
In addition to these resources, Military OneSource also provides an installation directory. This directory does not list every installation; only those approved by the individual service branch have information available. The directory provides information on available programs and services for the installations included in the directory.
Is Military OneSource Help Available in Any Language Other Than English?
Military OneSource provides certain types of assistance in approximately 150 languages. The official site offers real-time language interpretation services to insure language “will not be a barrier to military families seeking and receiving Military OneSource services.”
These language services are available by phone 24/7 at 800-342-9647. Language interpretation services cannot be used to “discuss or deliver medical information” according to the official site.
A Short History Of Military OneSource
A definitive history of this resource for military communities is tough to pin down, but according to PBS.org, the earliest version was established in 2004 intended to help with “life’s little and not so little issues” and was offered as a service-specific resource (there were separate 1-800 numbers for each branch of military service).
PBS.org reports that in the earliest days of the program, booklets, CDs, audiotapes, and interactive tools were provided as part of the free assistance.
All of this was run by a private company under contract to the DoD called Ceridian until 2011 when a company known as ValueOptions took over.
While it’s true that some programs offering the kind of help and information for military families provided by Military OneSource are run directly by government agencies, resources such as this one may be run by private entities under contract to the Department of Defense and this arrangement is not an unusual one in the larger context of Defense Department operations.
Who Military OneSource Serves
The mission of Military OneSource includes helping service members, their families, survivors, etc. Active duty, Guard, Reserve, and veterans (for up to a year after separation from service) will all find relevant information for their branches of service, bases, assignments, and more.
The Military OneSource official site says, “Each person we serve is on a journey through the military life cycle. We’re here to help, with robust online information and resources vetted by the Department of Defense.”
A Caveat About Who Military OneSource Serves
Unfortunately, not all members of the uniformed services will find as much help from the program as others. Military veterans only have access to services through Military OneSource for a year after leaving the military. The philosophy behind the restricted access includes reminding users that veterans already have a wide range of resources through programs offered by the Department of Veterans Affairs.
Members of the Coast Guard may also be disappointed to learn that while CG members are indeed a branch of the United States military, they do not fall under the Department of Defense but rather the Department of Homeland Security. The official site states that only military branches “with unconditional eligibility to receive Military OneSource’s services are listed under Branch of Service on Military OneSource”.
There is limited access for Coast Guard members as a result; many (if not all) Military OneSource options, “are only available to members of the Coast Guard when activated as part of the Department of the Navy under Title 10 authority, or after separation or retirement, from their separation date until 365 days past end of tour of service.”
The official site adds that when there is a qualifying Title 10 activation period and/or after separation or retirement, “Coast Guard service members and their families become eligible for all Military OneSource services”. The good news for Coast Guard members is that, like veterans, many options are offered by another agency–in the case of the Coast Guard it’s via something called CG SUPRT (call 855-CGSPRT toll free).
Heather Maxey works at a non-profit that addresses military ineligibility. She is an Army spouse, and met her husband while working as a Health Educator at Fort Bragg.