Operation I DO: The First Five Things You NEED To Do After Marrying Your Service Member
While sitting in the Social Security Office waiting for your name to be called may be the highlight of your time post-wedding (just kidding, we all know the Honeymoon is!), there are couple other loose ends that need to be tied up once you’re officially married to your service member. Navigating DEERS, receiving orders and managing your PCS move, obtaining POA, are all details that need to be taken of before you change your social media status (but hey, the lines are long and boring, and there’s quite a bit of time to kill…). Today I’m sharing with you the first five things you need to do post-wedding after getting married to a military personnel.
Let’s also preface this by saying that your Social Security information must be changed prior to all of this. While waiting with other folks in the Social Security Office isn’t exactly the highlight of the marriage experience, it is a necessity in regards to getting your name changed, which I would recommend, as it makes not only enrollment and HR paperwork for your spouse easier, but when you receive orders for your PCS (Permanent Change of Station, aka, moving in your spouse, or moving to another base). Your adventure with Social Security can be shorted by their readily available online forms (found here) and bringing in copies of your birth and marriage certificates. It’s best to knock this all out in one day if possible, especially since your service member may have to take a day of leave in order to make sure everything is squared away.
After updating this, get enrolled in DEERS and/or MilPDs, and learn all the fancy acronyms that accompany it. Y’all, the military and government in general is a real big fan of acronyms, and will go out of their way to name a program something ridiculous just to make an acronym for it I promise you. Essentially though, DEERS is the military benefits and resource database (officially called Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System), and MilPDs (Military Personnel Data System) supplements DEERS in that it also keeps track of events throughout your spouse’s career (such as promotions ((and changing eligibility as a result)), additional dependents, and separations). Usually you can do all of your DEERS, MilPDs, and ID paperwork in the same office, killing two birds with one stone. Remember; bring your birth certificate(s), Social Security Card, and your marriage certificate. I would recommend bringing copies of each in the event that they need to keep them.
While enrolling in DEERS and MilPDs, your spouse will need to visit their human resource contact within their squadron or battalion in order to have their pay and BAH (Basic Allowance for Housing) changed in respect to their changed dependent status. What’s neat about BAH is that it changes based on location, and grants service members and their families the ability to live outside or in mixed housing.
After taking care of DEERS and your ID, get added into TRICARE, the healthcare associated with the military. A full outline of the different packages for both enlisted and officers can be found here. Keep in mind that though your active duty service member already has dental, but it is additional for you.
Post all of this paperwork and phone calls and office visits, consult with a lawyer to obtain Power of Attorney. By having POA, you can manage finances, loans, and take care of legal paperwork if your spouse is away for training or deployed.
I would also familiarize yourself with the resources now available to you as a spouse. Besides taking a tour of post or learning about what exactly it is or where your spouse works, but reach out to a Key Spouse or the FRG (Family Readiness Group) about getting involved with your spouse’s unit, and beginning to integrate yourself. You will meet a variety of folks here – both good and bad, comforting and annoying, but the experience itself is what you make of it. And y’all, regardless if you get along with folks or not, at the end of the day, the community that is formed on bases is unlike that of any other; you can’t put it to words how it feels to look around a room, not saying a word, and the woman across knows exactly what you’re going through because she’s been there too. The support is invaluable.
Milspouses, what advice would you give to new spouses? Any tips or ticks to make the process easier? What did you find most valuable as you transitioned into an official SO role? In the meantime, I hope these tips assist you in streamlining your tasks as a new spouse!