Sometimes, new military spouses don’t know what to expect from military life. They often have to rely on the information from their service member, which is sometimes frustratingly limited or, worse, full of confusing acronyms.
Fortunately, many incredible resources are available, whether you’re a military wife or husband.
Numerous charities, national organizations, and programs on base strive to make military life a little easier. From deployment support programs that strengthen a military marriage to online mental health offerings, there are different benefits military families can take advantage of.
Military Spouse Benefits on Base
Whether a military family chooses to live on base or off base, many spouse resources are available.
1. Relief Programs
Every branch has its own Relief Program or Aid Society to provide emergency relief through interest-free loans. If a military spouse has an unexpected bill for car repairs or a broken appliance, this is a great resource. Army Emergency Relief, the Air Force Aid Society, the Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society, and Coast Guard Mutual Assistance have offices on their respective military installations.
Note that the service member must apply in person for a loan because it will be slowly deducted from their future paychecks.
2. Family Center
Most military installations have a Family Center or Readiness Center with multiple programs that support local military families. They know the challenges military families face, so they provide orientation classes for those new to the base, which is a great resource when you have just moved to a new installation. Family Centers also teach new parent classes, offer resume writing support, advise on financial aid for college, and much more. Some support special events and guest speakers throughout the year. Stop by a Family Center for a full list of their local resources.
Military Spouse Resources for Deployments
Deployments can be a stressful challenge for military families and exhausting for any military wife or husband. These military spouse resources make life a little more bearable during deployments.
3. Care Package Kits From USPS
When a service member is deployed, they’ll want care packages with their favorite snacks, any essential toiletries they need, and photos or reminders of home. The good news is that deployment addresses use an APO address, so military spouses won’t pay for international shipping.
The United States Postal Service (USPS) sells flat-rate boxes that cost a steady shipping fee, no matter how much is packed inside the box. Here’s a great benefit: The USPS will send a free care package kit to military families. It includes multiple sizes of flat-rate boxes, plus packaging tape, shipping labels, and customs forms. Order through their website to get the kit delivered for free.
4. GreenCare for Troops
Yard work can be a struggle when the service member is away. Luckily, volunteers around the country want to help military families with lawn care, leaf removal, and clearing snow during deployments. The GreenCare for Troops program connects a military wife or husband with local volunteers who do their yard work for free! Taking just one task off a military spouse’s shoulders can be an incredible military spouse benefit during deployment.
At the end of deployment, many military spouses love to celebrate by decorating their house or yard with a welcome home banner. Build-a-Sign provides free customizable canvas banners to military families. These are high-quality, durable banners that celebrate homecoming in any weather. Military families can choose from several designs to welcome their hero home in style and add photos or names to personalize their banners.
Military Spouse Resources for a PCS
Some military families move often, while others only experience a few PCS moves. Either way, receiving PCS orders is one of the biggest challenges military families face because they must make a plan to relocate the entire household to a new location — sometimes on the other side of the world! These military spouse benefits help families make the most of PCS season.
When a service member comes home with PCS orders, the military wife or husband usually starts frantically searching online for everything they can learn about the new location. It’s difficult to figure out housing, schools, and local information on short notice! PCSgrades has Area Guides with details about 100 duty stations, including BAH rates, housing options, schools, and more. If a military family is buying or selling a home when they move, PCSgrades can connect them with a military-friendly real estate agent in the local area. Since military families often need to buy a home from a distance or in a hurry, it’s comforting to work with real estate agents who understand the challenges of PCS moves and know how to navigate the VA home loan.
7. School Liaison Officer
For military families with school-aged children, PCS moves bring a new set of challenges. It can feel exhausting trying to learn about school zones near the next military base while also searching for homes and trying to transfer student records. A school liaison officer, or SLO, helps military families moving into the area so they are informed of their school options. The SLO can also help transfer records, register EFMP children, or reinstate any special IEP that needs to be continued at the new school.
Military families who live off-base may consider paying high rates for membership at a local gym. Instead, they should check with the ASYMCA to see if there is a YMCA location nearby. The ASYMCA offers military discounts at locations across the country. Their on-site childcare can be used for up to two hours daily, which is a great benefit that can enable spouses to exercise, get work done, or just relax away from the kids for a while. There are additional programs for military spouses and services for military kids from ASYMCA centers around the country.
Military Spouse Benefits for Education and Employment
In a military marriage, the service member’s career often determines where the family lives and how often they move. This can make it difficult for a wife or husband to maintain a career during the frequent changes of military life. The following resources address the education and employment challenges military families face.
9. Military Spouse Preference
The Department of Defense civilian jobs have a special category for military spouses to assist them in their job search and career opportunities. They will have additional “points” added to their application, so military spouses who meet all job qualifications are selected for interviews over other candidates. When looking for work on USAJobs, search the category for military spouses to see the hiring preference details.
10. G.I. Bill
Most service members earn the G.I. Bill to cover the cost of college tuition. The service member may transfer this benefit to their spouse or children (under specific conditions), allowing them to get several years free at colleges across the country. The G.I. Bill covers tuition and books and will also provide a housing fee for the service member. If the service member isn’t planning to attend a four-year college, they can share the benefit so the military spouse can get financial aid toward a college or professional certificate that will help them advance their career.
11. LinkedIn Premium
LinkedIn provides one free year of LinkedIn Premium to active duty members, veterans, and military spouses. This is a great resource for anyone looking for a job or trying to build their professional network. The Premium plan includes numerous educational videos and certificate programs, plus enhanced insights to job postings.
Military Spouse Benefits for Mental Health
Military families often undergo constant change and uncertainty, which can lead to increased feelings of stress or depression. It can be difficult to maintain a healthy lifestyle and strong connections with loved ones near and far. The following military spouse resources support mental health needs.
12. Military OneSource Counseling
Military spouses who want to talk to a counselor about the stresses and challenges of military life qualify for 12 free non-medical counseling sessions through Military OneSource. They can request a counselor through the website and be connected to one that same day. Sessions can be in person, over the phone, or via video chat. Military OneSource counselors cannot diagnose conditions or prescribe medicine, but they can offer great strategies to work through challenges like deployments, help with adjusting after a PCS move, tips for raising military children at different ages, and marriage counseling.
For those seeking mental health care, Telemynd is a great option. They have a national network of licensed therapists and prescribers who provide TRICARE-covered mental health services. Telemynd therapists and prescribers do not require a referral or authorization for TRICARE Prime active duty families, so it’s easy to access and get started. They offer virtual sessions with secure video chat, so spouses and children can get the care they need, no matter where they are stationed. It’s convenient to connect with a professional virtually, especially if they have children at home or can’t drive themselves to appointments.
You can easily book an appointment today on their website.