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Newbie Guide to Benefits for New Military Wife

Ms. Vicki

Dear Ms. Vicki,

My husband and I got married on Dec. 29, 2012. We are expecting our first baby girl anytime now. My husband just re-enlisted for another six years.

With that being said, I was looking to see what/ how I can take full advantage of my resources with the baby and the mortgage and just everything in general.

I don't know if that sounded right, but I’m new to this whole military wife thing and don't know much other than I’m proud of him for what he has chosen.

Sincerely,
Amanda

Dear Amanda,

Congratulations to you and your family. I like talking to new spouses because I know this can be a challenging and stressful time because it is all new and different to you.

However, being a military spouse has many rewards that civilian spouses will never experience. For example, I have "family" across the world now. I’m not afraid of being the newbie in crowd of people. Most important, I expect to be in situations where people are different, look different and think differently from me and make friends.

Here are some great quick tips that I have found new spouses might miss:

  1. Don’t forget that you need a military ID card. Your baby will need one too. You need this even if you don’t live near a military base/or post. This ensures that you are enrolled in DEERS. You must be registered in the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System (DEERS). It’s a worldwide, computerized database of uniformed servicesmembers (sponsors), their family members, and others who are eligible for military benefits, including Tricare (our healthcare plan).
  2. Know your servicemember’s social security number by heart. Trust me, his or her number is more important than yours. Don’t think of this as demeaning, this is just the way the military organizes paperwork. I am so used to this now that when I’m asked for my SSN I automatically give my husband’s -- then laugh as I make the correction.
  3. Get the newsletters from Miltary.com and SpouseBuzz.com. They have great information and resources for new spouses. For example, they offer education, employment and housing information for military bases worldwide. They connect you with other spouses who have great ideas for care packages, work strategies and parenting tips. They will keep you up-to-date with all the newest info on mortgages and home buying.
  4. Visit the family services on your base. For example, Marine Corps Family Service, Fleet and Family Services (Navy) or Army Community Services (ACS). These offices have great staff that will be your lifeline with tons of information and resources.
  5. Volunteer in the military community as your time permits. It will be a great way to network, meet new people, build new skills and it will help you stay in the know.

These are just a few ideas but there are plenty of others as you move forward. Please keep in touch with me and let me know how you are doing. Again, congratulations.

Sincerely,
Ms. Vicki

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Contributor

Ms. Vicki is a native of Dallas, has been the Dear Abby for the military community since her column began in 2005. A licensed therapist and licensed clinical social worker, Ms. Vicki holds a Master of Science in social work and a Master of Arts in clinical psychology.

Ms. Vicki appears regularly on Military.com and in the Fort Campbell Courier. Her column has also appeared in the Washington (D.C.) Times and in the Heidelberg (Germany) Post Herald. She has been featured on CNN, CBS, ABC and NBC.

Looking for advice about your military life? Email Ms. Vicki here. Find Ms. Vicki on Facebook here.  Find Ms. Vicki on Twitter here.

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