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Ask An Army Spouse: Questions About Joining the Army

Benefits When Enlisting in the Army

I actually have a few questions to be answered.  My husband will be leaving for OSUT in one month.  He will be there for 16 weeks and then on to airborne Training for 2 1/2 weeks.  First off when will mine and the kids Insurance go into effect?  Will I need to go to the closest base to get this or can it be mailed to me?  Also, When he gets his orders will I be in charge of moving the family and our Household goods or will he come home before going to his new post? How long after he is finished with OSUT will it be before We are moved to the new post?  Thanks for the help!

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ask-army-spouse-enlisting

The insurance will go into effect once he enrolls you in DEERS, which should be when he inprocesses for training. He will then mail you a form that you can take with you to the closest military post to have your ID made. However, even without the ID, you should be enrolled in the system.

Once he gets his orders, you can call the transportation office to begin to get the move set up. Technically, he is suppose to be given 10 days to move his family after he inprocesses at his permanent duty station. However, depending on what is going on with the unit at the time, the time off may be delayed. In that case, you may be on your own if you want to move as soon as possible. However, I will say that in 90% of cases, he will be able to have that time off.

You will be able to move with him after he has completed all of his training and is assigned to his first duty station.

Communication with Family After Enlistment

I’m gonna join the Army I’m like half way thru the process well I would like to think so, I am awaiting to do my ASVAB. But I had a bunch of questions to ask but my recruiter was way too busy to deal with me since he had a bunch of other people. Wanted to join & another person was there when I was doing my practice test.

What kind of communication do we have with our families? Are cell phones allowed at a certain point? What happens after graduation? I know AIT but will we get to have some time with our family after graduation? Can my husband sign me out? Or is it immediate family such as mom & sister? I have a bunch of questions but that’s enough for now.

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First, I’d find a recruiter who has time for you.

Second, your husband can sign you out if you have a pass.

Communication in basic training is generally pretty limited (count on no more than once a week phone calls and be thankful if you get more). After graduation, you will be shipped directly to AIT. In some cases, you can request for your husband to be able to take you to AIT so you can spend more time together.

New Enlistee with Lots of Questions

My husband left for basic training last week and last I heard was that he was alive and ok…I’m a nervous wreck because we are so young and I have no idea what to do on my part…how do I get my ID? How do I get insurance? When will I be moving in with him? What do I have to do to get our furniture and stuff there? When will I know where we are going?…Please help

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You will receive paperwork in the mail about how to get your ID and enroll in DEERS. When that happens, you will also be enrolled in insurance and be able to take advantage of it. You will only need to make changes if you decide to enroll in Tricare Prime.

You will typically be able to go with him after he is assigned to his first duty station. The Army will move your belongings for you in most cases. He will get his orders during AIT or whatever his last training school may be.

Scared About Enlistment in Army

My boyfriend went to sign for the Army today. I am terrified. We are planning on getting married August 2011. But.. I just found out that I could be pregnant. He knows, but he still wants this. How do I go through it? I’ll need his help. How long is Basic usually? How many times would he be deployed if he is only joining for four years?

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What is scaring you about his enlistment? I think it is normal to be apprehensive about the unknown. There will be a lot of changes in your future just with getting married and possibly being pregnant. The Army will only add to those changes. The biggest adjustment in the beginning is getting used to the separation that occurs during training. It can be hard, especially if you have not been apart from each other in the past. The best thing you can do is to reach out to support groups of other Army family members either through your area or online. For me, this was always the best thing to help me deal with whatever the Army threw our way.

Basic training lasts for ten weeks and the he will have additional training after that for his specific job. How long that training lasts depends on the MOS he chose when he enlisted. It could be as short as five weeks or as long as a year. As far as the number of deployments, it depends on the unit he is assigned to. My husband deployed four times in his first enlistment (special ops) and I know others who didn’t deploy at all. It is impossible to predict.

Finally, try to relax. Many people worry about deployments and the like who aren’t even facing one. Try not to borrow trouble and only deal with what you are actually facing at the moment. Good luck!

Questions About Basic and Deployments

My boyfriend went to sign for the Army today. I am terrified. We are planning on getting married August 2011. But.. I just found out that i could be pregnant. He knows, but he still wants this. How do i go through it? I’ll need his help. How long is Basic usually? How many times would he be deployed if he is only joining for four years?

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Basic training has just been extended to ten weeks in length. He will then have AIT (his job training) after that which could be as short as five weeks or as long as a year or more depending on the MOS he chose. As for deployments, it is difficult to say. If he is in a regular Army unit, deployments are generally 12 months long and they are suppose to have 12 months dwell time (time at home) between deployments. Technically, he could probably deploy twice during a four year enlistment if everything fell into place right. If he is in a special operations unit, the deployments could be much more frequent.

Good luck with your decision.

Pay Uncertainties and Coping with Separations

My fiancee is thinking very strongly of enlisting. We both plan on being married well before he signs any papers to do so, but I still have my worries. When he is in basic (and if/when he deploys), I will be left with a house I can’t pay for by myself, let alone my utilities and food. Will the Army offer any help to me while he is at basic and/or deployed? I’m not opposed to another job, but as a student with a full time job, already, it would be near impossible to keep school and everything else above water.

Also, just thinking about him not being here for the duration of basic and possibly during deployment scares me to death and my family won’t know much of what I will be going through. What resources will I have to help keep my sanity? Do you have any tips that may help with loneliness? I appreciate everything you could offer me to do with the facts of being an Army Wife… I never considered it for him or for myself before, but he’s made the decision to go through with it and I agreed because it is with the best intentions for us and our future family… I simply know nothing of what to expect.

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I’m not sure why you would have the financial issues while he is in training. If you are married by that time, he will receive his base pay, housing allowance and separation pay. Unless it is going to be a drastic cut in salary for him from his current job, I would think that his pay would cover the basics like rent, utilities and food.

There are many resources online, like this site. When you are at a duty location, you will also have a variety of resources on post available including the MWR, ACS, Family Readiness Group, Spouses Club, etc. There will be plenty to do to keep you busy if you go looking for it on post. Many organizations are always looking for volunteers as well which is a great way to make time go faster while meeting new people.

The ebook for new Army families may help you as well as it goes over many of your questions in detail:
Basic Training Survival Guide for Spouses and Families

Leaving for Basic, Pay and First Duty Station

Several questions; I would appreciate help with any/all of them. Thank you in advance! My husband is about to join the Army with my full support. We have two small kids and one on the way. I understand he may still be in training during the birth and I’m OK with that.

Here’s my questions: we live here in Hawaii and because of my pregnancy, I can’t move to where he does his training even if it were allowed because of its length. So how soon can I start receiving BAH here in Hawaii? Will the Army pay for our move from where I am now to the BAH-provided housing (we will have to leave where we are as soon as he joins). And lastly, at what point during all of his initial training will he receive orders for where our first assignment will be? I know the Army will pay for the move from Hawaii to wherever the first post is, that’s why I’m wondering about when he first joins.

One more…sorry, but I was also wondering about the timing; if he joins now in May or June, when is it likely that he’ll leave for Basic, etc? Right away? A few weeks/months?

THANK YOU to you for all of your help, I really appreciate what seems to be a very strong support system among Army wives/girlfriends and look forward to joining you and someday helping others in the same way!

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First, I will say it is good that you have come to terms with him not being there for the birth as that is a very real possibility. Not to put a downer on it but it is good that you know that now.

As far as housing is concerned, the housing allowance will be based on your zip code while he is in training. Since you are in Hawaii, that will be a nice little supplement! 🙂 His first paycheck will likely be four to six weeks after he starts basic training. A lot depends on where it is in the pay cycle when he starts. But the housing allowance will be backdated to the day that his enlistment officially started. So with the first check, you may actually get 1.5 months of housing allowance.

The Army will not pay for a move until he has orders to a permanent duty station (unless he gets orders for AIT that includes family but in that case, the orders would only cover moving to that duty station). The Army will pay for you to move from Hawaii to the first duty station. So all that is covered – no worries!

As far as when he will find out where his first assignment will be, it all depends. Most guys find out just before graduating from AIT or whatever their final training school is. AKO (an online system for the Army) may show a duty station much earlier than that but it is always subject to change. You shouldn’t believe it until you have paper orders and even then, it could still change (though it is less likely at that point).

When he signs up, he will be given a ship date. It is hard to say when it may be. They try to ship them out as soon as possible but it depends on the training cycle for his basic training, the number of recruits they have waiting to start and his AIT school. My husband signed in April and didn’t leave until October. I know others who have signed and left a week later. It is very hard to say. You will be able to see the date before he officially signs though. They originally had my husband slated to leave on our anniversary and I requested that it be changed before he signed. They did it and reminded me it was probably the last thing I would have any say in! haha

Good luck and if you have other questions, just ask! 🙂

When Do I Get To Move After He Joins?

My husband is trying to get into the Army. Then he plans on going into Ranger School. I am wondering when my daughter and I will be moving to a base? I am in college and I want to know of a time line on when I might be moving so I can schedule to get done quicker or not and so I can decide what to do about my job. I just need to know if it is after basic, or after Ranger School, or if I have longer.

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You will be able to move with him when he is assigned to his first duty station. Keep in mind that Ranger School is not something that he will do during his initial training. If he wants to be a Ranger, he will attend RASP, which is an eight week selection course at Ft Benning. He will first have to complete basic, AIT and Airborne.

Ranger School generally comes further down the line after he has proved himself in his unit.

What to Expect at MEPS

My boyfriend is going to MEPS next week. I have been wanting to watch him get sworn in. Who is allowed to go to this? Do guys usually want their girlfriends there with them (generally, speaking, of course)? Thanks for the help.

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I went with my husband to MEPS. It was an all day event and, quite honestly, I was VERY bored. I didn’t see him much at all until the end of the day. I was able to go back with him when he chose his MOS, signed his contract and was sworn in. There was no restriction on who could be there when I was there with him. They did not check IDs or anything like that. Just take a book or something to do. It is a long day!

I was glad that I went though because they originally had him leaving for basic on our anniversary. I asked for the date to be changed and they changed it. If I hadn’t been there, I can only imagine it would have been even harder when he left with it being on our anniversary.

Unsure About Him Joining the Military

My fiance of almost three years has decided to chase his dreams of being in the British Army, and to be quite honest I am not so keen because it is such a big thing and is going to mean I will be doing all the planning to move out and living on my own instead of my desire of living with him. I think the war is pointless anyways and why would someone put their own life at risk to just play with guns. I am going to stand by him and offer as much support as possible but inside I am cut up, upset, distraught and unhappy. Help .. would be great to speak to wives or girlfriends/ fiances of soldiers out there in this horrible war so that I can feel more secure about the whole thing!

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First, I must say that I don’t know a single person who puts their life on the line in the military “just to play with guns”. The reasoning behind joining is generally much more noble and often includes feeling a need to serve and love of country.

Regardless of how you feel about the war, you should fully support your soon to be soldier and realize that HE is not the war. By participating in it, he is only doing his job and following orders. If you can’t separate your soldier from the war (or any other conflict), then I’m afraid the Army life is most likely not for you. He can’t decide to not deploy because you don’t agree with the current conflict.

I’m incredibly proud of my husband and everything he has accomplished in the Army. I honestly can’t fathom feeling the way that you do. Regardless of how I feel about the current wars, I fully support my husband and everything that he does. I completely respect him and his service to our country. So few others are willing to step up to the plate.

Questions About Him Joining

Hello! So my husband is joining the Army pretty soon and I have a few questions, while he is in basic does he get housing allowance for me? What about during AIT? Does he get paid while in basic & how long until we actually see that money? How long until we receive his orders for where he will be stationed? Does the army have like the Navy has with a fleet and family service center type thing? Also when he took the practice ASVAB they recommended him for infantry and special ops…if he decides he wants to do the whole special ops thing how long is the training for that and does he do it like AIT? Thank You…Sorry it was so long!

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He will get base pay as well as housing allowance (based on your zip code) and separation pay while he is in training. The first paycheck typically takes about 4-6 weeks depending on where they are in the pay cycle when he starts basic. He can expect to get orders for his first duty station near the end of his final training school. He may find out earlier than that but just know they are subject to change until he has paper orders in hand.

The Army will have all of the same general family services offered as the Navy. There is a family readiness group, spouse groups, Army Community Service office, Morale Welfare and Recreation, etc.

As far as special ops, it depends on if you are talking about Rangers or Special Forces. For all special ops, airborne is usually required before progressing to additional training. Rangers then go through an additional eight weeks before being assigned. For SF, there are multiple phases of training and he will have to pass each phase. Language school is typically the longest of the schools for SF. All total, including MOS training, it could be two years from the time he joined until he is assigned to group. Some make it through quicker if they have a shorter language school and shorter MOS.

I would recommend this guide – it will give you an in-depth view into what to expect when he joins:

http://marriedtothearmy.com/army-store/army-books/

Living Life as Infantry

Hi, my husband is in the process of enlisting and is really interested in infanty. Everything I have read or heard is that it is a hard life for family. We have 2 small boys and 1 on the way. I have read infantry is very physically demanding and you are away from your family a lot due to training and usually being the first and most to be deployed. Also that the days are longer, 10 to 12 hour days, when not deployed.
My husband loves the idea of all the fun stuff- training on weapons, wargames, and all the other guy stuff. I am afraid, tho, that he will end up being miserable once he realizes what hard work and little pay is involved. I would like the perspective of someone who is or has gone thru this situation. Maybe you could tell me what a typical day or week would be like for an infantryman.
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My husband was Infantry but he was in a special ops unit so it was a little different. All jobs in the Army have potential to have very long days with multiple training assignments between deployments. Actually, in my husband’s special ops unit, he was home earlier in the day when he was infantry than he was when he was assigned to the Arms Room (after he was injured).
As far as deployments, units typically deploy together with all aspects of the unit. When my husband’s unit deployed, they always had multiple MOSs with them, not just infantry. All of the soldiers provide a needed job during deployments so it won’t only be Infantry that deploys. There are certain groups that will generally go in first but it is typically more about the unit than specifically the MOS.
Of course, there are other MOSs available that are more of a “desk job”. But if your husband really wants to go Infantry, he will likely not be satisfied with a job that is not as hands-on as Infantry is. It really depends on what he wants to do as a soldier. Above all else, I would want my husband to be happy with his chosen job as he will be doing it for the length of his enlistment whether he likes it or not.
Hope this helps.

Reenlistment in the Army

OK, I am going to start off by saying I will appreciate any answers I can get. Ok, My husband of 3 years is seriously thinking about reenlisting. He was in for about 4 years before we met and got married. He was stationed over in Germany and knows only the single aspect of the military. He is now married and has a 1 and half year old. I try and ask him as many questions as I can about Bases and Base life. He doesn’t know much about either cause he was never stationed here he just went thru training here in the states.

So my questions… Well How is Base Life? How is housing?  Moving? Chances of Deployment right away? Does he get to pick where he wants to be stationed? Right now we have two cars will we need to get rid of one or will we have to drive both to where ever we are stationed? I know they are all really stupid questions but I don’t know military life and want to know and be as prepared as possible. If there is any one that would like to help a soon to be wife out with all her worries I would appreciate it.

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First, you should know that you don’t have to live on post. As a married soldier, he will also be eligible to live off post. It is really a personal decision and depends highly on the amount and type of housing off post but we always chose to live off post. We were happy with that decision. Housing on post is based on the number of family members as well as the rank of the soldier. Some posts have brand new housing whereas others have housing that has been around for quite some time and is need of repair. If you choose to live off post, he will receive a housing allowance to do so.

You can typically count on moving at least once for every four year enlistment unless he is in a special operations unit (much less likely to move). If he is an officer, he can expect to move more whereas enlisted generally move a little less often.

The chances of deployment are very hard to say. It depends on the unit he is assigned to and their deployment rotation. I know some who have been in for years and managed to never be deployed. On the flip side of that, I know many others who deployed multiple times, particularly since 9/11. It is impossible to predict if and when he will be deployed, though I would count on deployment at least once if he signs for four additional years.

There’s no reason you would have to give up a vehicle unless he is stationed overseas. Generally, the Army will only pay to ship one vehicle overseas. You can take an additional vehicle if you would like but you will have to pay to ship it.

About the author: Stacey is an Army wife of a soldier who joined in 2003. He has since been medically retired but she continues to provide information to Army wives and families to make their adjustment to the Army lifestyle easier. Connect with Stacey: Facebook Twitter Pinterest

{ 3 comments… add one }
  • florence tucker August 21, 2015, 11:42 am

    My husband will be going to basic training soon to be a airborne ranger….I don’t really know much about it…my brother is a marine andn his wife moved up there where he was stationed..so will I be able to move where my husband is stationed ?

    • Stacey Abler August 25, 2015, 8:22 pm

      You can move with him once he’s done with his training and assigned to a Ranger BN.

  • Shannom September 10, 2015, 10:04 pm

    Does anyone know how long army medics train? I don’t mean basic training or AIT….I mean after that. my soldier is in korea and a ssg in a VERY busy, small company. it’s been a month since I’ve heard from him….and as an fyi we’ve been together for 15 month with zero problems…..but I can’t help but be concerned.

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