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Top 10 Military Life Tips for New MilSpouses

Welcome, new military spouse, to the wide world of government bureaucracy.  We know you’re happy to be here with us on our military base. We love seeing how in love you are. We adore how patriotic you’re feeling.

We want to make sure your excitement isn’t destroyed by how confusing navigating the military system can be. We’ve been around for awhile, and we know some tips and tricks for making it through unscathed. Want to be an expert at navigating the military system? In no particular order, here’s what we know:

Top 10 Military Life Tips for New Military Spouses

1. Know the difference between Tricare Prime and Standard. Which service do you want to use? Which will best fit your needs? By knowing the difference between the two you can make an educated choice. Go here to read all about Tricare Standard and go here to read all about Tricare Prime.

2. They really are going to require you to show your ID card every time you go to the commissary (and many other places on base). I know it seems silly. Do yourself a favor and don’t leave it in the car.

3. FRGs are what you make of them. Getting involved with your unit goes both ways. Since most of the support groups are run by volunteers, show them a little grace. They can’t email you unless they have your email address. Stuff gets lost, copied down incorrectly or sent to your spam folder. Don’t wait for them to ask you to be involved — just dive in.

4. Government employees are cranky. Why? I have no idea. But go the extra mile and have a good attitude anyway. Maybe you’ll leave them in a better mood than you found them in.

5. Make an appointment for everything. Don’t just walk-in for DEERS, CYSS or Tricare registration. Call them and find out if you can make an appointment. You’ll save a lot of time and frustration by doing so.

6. Tip the commissary baggers. I know, no one told about that either when I was first on base. While the amount people tips runs the gamut, from what we can figure from our readers $2 is about minimum and $5 is high.

7. Drama is as drama does. Many complain about drama in the military spouse community. In our experience drama attracts drama. Just do you best to lend a helping hand and be a kind neighbor.

8. Take advantage of resources. The number of classes and programs available to help you navigate military life would blow your mind. Visit your bases’ web page, learn what some of them are and take advantage of them. You will meet some new friends and fill your toolbox with awesome resources at the same time.

9. Get your paperwork in order. Set aside a time with your servicemember to make sure your paperwork is in order. Use this time to make sure your name is everywhere is should be. Does he/she want you on their Servicemember’s Group Life Insurance (SGLI)  paperwork? Do you need a power of attorney for anything? (Hint, yes you do). Are you on their DD-93 (the document used to locate next of kin should the worst happen)? While most deployments have lots of warning, we are supposed to be prepared for them to leave with very little notice. This will give you some peace of mind.

10. Persistence and organization are the keys to opportunity. When it comes to everything from housing lists to getting your kid into that high demand on-base class to scoring free football tickets, navigating military life requires you to be on your game. Keep your ducks in a row and be persistent!

What are your system navigation tips for new military spouses?

About Amy Bushatz

Amy is the managing editor of Military.com’s spouse and family blog SpouseBuzz.com. A journalist by trade, Amy also covers spouse and family news for Military.com where she is an Associate Editor. An Army wife and mother of two, Amy has been featured as a subject matter expert on NPR and in the New York Times. Follow her on twitter @amybushatz.