Welcome to military life, milspouse! If you are brand new and basking in the glow of newlywed life, or just looking for a refresher, we’re here to provide you the essential first steps of military spouse life.
It may feel overwhelming at first, but don’t worry-you’ll soon be a pro. So, let’s get started, shall we? First things first:
1. Enroll in DEERS
Your spouse will need to help register you in the Defense Eligibility Reporting System, commonly referred to as DEERS. You must be enrolled in DEERS in order to be eligible for the military health insurance, TRICARE.
To register family members in DEERS, sponsors must complete an Application for Uniformed Services Identification Card and DEERS Enrollment (DD Form 1172), and provide documentation, such as a social security card and/or a marriage or birth certificate.
2. Updating Personal Information in DEERS
Family members can update personal information such as addresses and phone numbers once they are registered in DEERS. If the sponsor is not available, family members can update DEERS with a valid Power of Attorney. You may verify or update DEERS in one of the following ways:
Visit a local ID card office to add/remove family members. Call first to verify business hours or to set up an appointment. Or, set up an appointment online. For next steps, visit here!
3. For the Future! When to Update DEERS
You should update your record whenever you experience any of the following (this list is not all-inclusive):
- Change in sponsor’s status
- Marriage or Divorce
- New Birth
- Moving to a new location for any reason
- Becoming eligible for Medicare
- Death of sponsor or family member.
If you are enrolled in a TRICARE Prime option or if you’ve purchased TRICARE Reserve Select, TRICARE Retired Reserve or TRICARE Young Adult, remember to also change your address with your regional contractor.
4. Obtain a Military ID
Military Installations require a military ID to enter the gates, shop at the commissary and exchange, retrieve insurance benefits and access a wide variety of services. Spouses, as well as children over the age of 10, will need THEIR OWN ID cards.
First, locate your installation ID office and schedule an appointment, either in person, online or over the phone. Requirements vary on what paperwork you might need to receive your ID card, but you should have your marriage license, birth certificate, photo identification, and Department of Defense Form 1172 (application form) to apply for an ID card.
5. Register Your Car
Next up, you’ll want to have your service member take you to get your car registered on base/post. Some will require you to have a sticker placed on your car so that you can enter, while others do not.
Now is also the time to inquire about the installation’s entrance policy. Some questions to have answered:
- Will you need to show your military ID while going through the gate?
- Will everyone in the car have to show one?
- And, if family and/or friends are coming to visit you, will they need a special pass to be allowed on base/post?
6. Power of Attorney
The Power of Attorney is one of the most essential tools for the military spouse. Basically, a power of attorney grants you the power to make decisions for your spouse if he or she is otherwise unavailable or deployed.
A POA can be incredibly specific or relatively general, so you and your spouse should get together and decide what works best for you.
But, you absolutely DO NOT want to get one week into a deployment when the electricity goes out, only to realize that the account is under your spouse's name and you are not authorized to make any changes.
Obtaining a POA will not take you very long, and it is an incredibly common procedure. Military Lawyers will help you prepare your Power of Attorney, and they are located on nearly every installation. You and your spouse should make an appointment with your legal office to set up an appointment.
7. Helpful Hints
Driving through those gates the first few times can be scary, but there is no need to worry!
There may be signs telling you if IDs are being checked, but as a general rule, having your ID ready is a good idea. Drive up, stop, roll down your window, and be courteous to the guard.
On installations where a sticker is required to enter, those stickers may indicate if the car belongs to an officer or enlisted service member or dependent. If the vehicle has an “officer” sticker on the windshield, the person guarding the gate may salute when they wave the car through. Civilians are not expected to salute back. A nod of the head as a sign of acknowledgement is appropriate, but not required.
On rare occasions, depending on the security situation at your particular installation, they will do random searches of vehicles. Don’t take it personally: Any vehicle that enters a military installation is subject to these searches. Being polite often helps to speed the process along.
Content provided by Military Spouse. Used with permission.