So you’re new to the Army life and wondering where to begin? Check out our top ten tips for getting off to a successful start as a new Army spouse!
1. Memorize That Social
As an Army wife, your social security number is no longer valid as far as the Army is concerned. If they ask you for your social or your last four, they are asking you for your soldier’s social security number, not yours. So memorize it now!
2. Get a Military ID
Get your military ID as soon as possible. You can go to the closest military base (it does not have to be the same branch as your soldier) to have it made. Your soldier will send you the necessary paperwork to have this done.
3. Get Enrolled in in DEERS and Tricare
You need insurance coverage, right? Time to get familiar with Tricare and how it all works. In addition to enrolling as a new spouse, in all likelihood, you will have to register yourself with Tricare each time you move to a new post.
4. Draft a POA
Be sure to get a Power of Attorney so you can handle your soldier’s affairs whenever he is gone. You’ll be surprised how often it comes in handy. JAG can assist with doing this for free. Be aware there are different types and options available so do some research before you go in. If you know you’ll be moving into on post housing on your own, let the JAG officer know as it requires a special POA.
5. Know the Bills and the Budget
Know about all of your bills – how much, when they’re due, who they’re payable to, etc. When your soldier is gone, whether it’s for training or deployment, all of the financial duties fall to you. Be sure to sit down and discuss everything that’s paid out so you’re in the know.
This is a great time to set a budget too! And get familiar with the bank accounts and ensuring that any account you may need to use has your name on it. That includes any accounts tied to your bills (cell phone, electricity, car loan, etc). If your name isn’t on the account and you don’t have a POA, they can’t speak to you about it.
Last, take some time to familiarize yourself with your soldier’s LES. If he’s gone for training or deployed, you’ll be the one who is most likely to catch any mistakes.
6. Start an Emergency Savings
There are always going to be extra expenses (or government shutdowns!) that interfere with your normal budget routines. Start squirreling away money now. Your ultimate goal should be to have 3-6 months of expenses saved so that if no income was coming in, you could still pay the bills and survive for that timeframe. But don’t look at it as that big of a goal – break it down into more manageable chunks. When you put your budget together, it should be easy to see how much you can funnel into savings with each paycheck, whether it’s $25 or 10%.
7. Practice OPSEC
Do not talk about your soldier’s deployments or training exercises publicly. You never know who may overhear you. For your own safety, you should try to prevent others from knowing when he is gone. This means driving both vehicles during his absence and not plastering your car with stickers and magnets that declare he’s deployed.
8. Join Support Groups
When you’re knee deep in Army life, and especially a deployment, you need people who understand all that you’re going through. Try out the FRG (family readiness group) or spouses club on post. Even if you don’t like the FRG itself, it’s likely you’ll find some other spouses who you click with and you can get together outside of the FRG. If that’s not your thing, then check into some other military related volunteer opportunities or groups through your church of choice. If all else fails, there’s always Facebook!
9. Learn the Lingo
The Army has a language all its own. If you hope to ever understand your soldier again when he’s with his coworkers, you need to learn the lingo. Check out the Army 101 section and get started.
10. Embrace the Suck
Haha! This one is my favorite! Nothing in life is ever going to go perfectly and the Army is no exception. He’ll get deployed or called out of town for training when you’ve planned a big event (like giving birth!). Or just as you’re getting comfortable in one location, the Army decides it’s time to PCS. The fact is there’s not much you can do about it so just put on a big smile and deal with it. Try to find the positives of whatever situation has occurred and move on.
This is an evolving list…..do you have other tips? Sound off in the comments!