With 2017 almost in the rear view mirror, it's the perfect time to take a second and reflect on all the big things that happened for military families and spouses over the last year.
Thanks to the magic of the internet, we can go back and see which stories you read or visited most on both Military.com and Military.com's SpouseBuzz blog.
Want to know what the overall top military stories were? Go here. This list is just for spouses and families.
1. Tricare changes.
The last year has been one of major Tricare changes.
First, a new active duty family dental contract hit May 1, and with it a variety of headaches for military families, especially when it came to pediatric dentists. Dentists complained that the new reimbursement rates offered by Tricare's new contractor, United Concordia, weren't enough to cover their costs, and many providers dropped the plan.
Then, thanks to a regularly scheduled contract shift combined with changes ordered by Congress, the system prepared for a major overhaul set to hit Jan. 1. With it comes new plan names, new regions, new contractors and new fees. You can read all about that here.
2. Pay raise coming and BAH cut avoided
This time the proposal was to cut BAH for marriage military members who have kids. That idea was canned before the final National Defense Authorization Act was passed, but there's no promise they won't try for another cut next year.
3. Internet thug war over storage auction
One of the most-read stories on SpouseBuzz this year involved an auction company in Chesapeake, Virginia, and its ill-advised decision to advertise a perfectly legal storage facility auction as "unclaimed shipments from overseas." Readers worried that the company was illegally selling off the lost-PCS shipments of military members. In the end it came down to a matter of misleading advertising and photos of shipments that were not the ones up for sale. Instead, the auction company had been contracted by the storage company to sell off abandoned goods that had been there with unpaid bills for many years and, in some cases, decades.
The auction company canceled the sale and, hopefully, took the whole thing as a "what not to do" for next time.
4. U.S. commander delays public death notifications
Official Pentagon policy is that U.S. personnel deaths be announced in a series of releases that include more and more details, such as the name of the service member, as time passses and notificiations are completed to the family.
But one U.S. commander this year changed that rule for the area under his control. Instead he allowed nothing to be publicized until the family notifications were entirely complete. Only then was news shared with the public.
That decision sparked this story and a question: Which is more important, family notifications or public knowledge?
5. OPSEC and FamilyTreeNow
Early last year military families were surprised and scared to find that websites such as FamilyTreeNow aggregate huge quantities of incredibly detailed information about their past and current addresses, family members and people they might know.
For me that meant my current home address, eight former addresses stretching back to 2004 (many of which I had totally forgotten), including one on a military base, a list of all of my family members from my husband's side, including my deceased brother-in-law (but none of my direct family who have my maiden name), and a list of 15 "possible associates" that only included two people who I actually know.
But don't worry -- you can still opt-out. And this popular post tells you how.