Top Ten Tips for the New Army Spouse

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As an Army spouse, your social security number is no longer valid as far as the Army is concerned.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 want your soldier’s social security number, not yours. So memorize it now!

My husband is medically retired now and I still have to remind myself they are asking for his social when I deal with anything related to Tricare.

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. You will either need to have the paperwork or a POA.

Be sure to call ahead to find out the hours. Some require an appointment, and not all are open every day during the week for ID cards.

3. GET ENROLLED IN DEERS & TRICARE

You need medical 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.

Getting your military ID should cover enrolling in DEERS. Be sure to ask about opting into a specific Tricare plan. Once your soldier is retired, you must opt into Prime if you want to keep it (the default is Standard).

4. Draft a POA

Be sure to get a Power of Attorney to 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 each month so you’re in the know.

This is a great time to set a budget too! And get familiar with the bank accounts and ensure 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 will always 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 you can still pay the bills and survive for that timeframe if no income is coming in.

When he is deployed, it is a great time to save money. Not only is he earning extra pay that, in most cases, is tax-free up to a certain amount, but there is also one less mouth to feed at home.

Break down your ultimate goal 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. Or to anyone who otherwise shouldn’t know about them, even if you know them.

You never know who may overhear you. You should also try to prevent others from knowing when he is gone for your safety.

This means driving both vehicles during his absence and not plastering your car with stickers and magnets that declare he’s deployed.

Be especially careful about what you post online and on social media. You never know who is watching and listening.

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, you’ll likely find some other spouses who you click with, and you can get together outside of the FRG.

If that’s not your thing, check into other military-related volunteer opportunities or groups through your church of choice.

If all else fails, there’s always social media! But remember, OPSEC.

9. Learn the Lingo

The Army has a language all its own. If you ever hope to 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 on the military alphabet, military time, acronyms, and more.

Once you know the Army alphabet and before your kids figure it out, it is also a great way to talk in code around them.

10. Embrace the Suck

Haha! This one is my favorite!

Nothing in life will ever 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 for 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!

author avatar
Stacey Abler
Stacey's husband joined the Army in 2003 and was medically retired after four deployments. She enjoys sharing her experiences and expertise around Army life while continuing to support Army spouses and families in their military journey.

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24 Comments

  1. This may sound morbid, but can be especially important if you have children: Make sure you have life insurance on each other and that all your info is up to date. Just like you wouldn’t want to leave your husband and kids in a bind if you unexpectedly passed away, he’ll want to make sure you’re taken care of in the event of a tragedy as well.

  2. If your soldier is deployed, don’t put the “half my heart is in x” stickers on your car, it makes you a target, it’s like putting a billboard on your car that says “follow me home and do only God knows what because my husband isn’t home”!!! It kills me when I see wives with these stickers, especially if they live off post, anyone can follow you home, and it’s putting yourself and kids in danger..

    1. i hate the my kid is a honer student at blank elementary and the stick figures with the family names your just asking for your kid to get abducted with those stickers on your van

  3. LOL I thought I was the only one who thought that. I mean really, you watch the news all the time and you hear things happen in your neighborhood regardless of where you are from and people still want to put how many family members and names on the cars. It’s crazy.

  4. Would just like to point out that I appreciate you saying Army Spouse in the title, but then you go to “His” and “Husband.” Come on ladies..help our female Soldiers out…we are obviously the minority but try to change these stereotypes.. (“daddy” deployment dolls, etc) There are male Spouses too and wives that are gone…. Also, THANK YOU for your sacrifices and assistance to our community.

    1. Sorry, it’s just my nature as a wife to refer to my soldier as him or husband. The writing is awkward to constantly say him or her, husband or wife, etc. I do appreciate every person that serves regardless of gender.

  5. I am currently engaged to a wonderful man in the Army and I am getting ready to relocate myself and my children in about 2 months to another state to officially start our lives together. It is a little over whelming thinking about moving out of my home town area and state but I am also very excited at the same time. If there is any other advice besides these tips that anyone has please let me know. Lol. This is something completely new to me and a completely new lifestyle I am stepping into.

    1. I just did the same thing! So I know how your feeling. Make sure you label your moving boxes. And have housing ready (if you can) before you get there. We got lucky and got housing with in a day of being here. But others are not so lucky. Don’t get overwhelmed with DEERS and tricare. And if your kids are school age I would recommend finding out how far ahead or being they are from you now. I didn’t realize that schools here started a lot sooner then back home. Hope this helps a little 🙂 And just remember, SMILE lol

  6. I’m so confused 🙁 I have my military ID and my husband and I both know that his duty station is now ft. Campbell but I have no way of figuring out if I have poa and if he has filled out the applications for on base housing I have been calling bases and locations to find out this info but nobody is talking to me or giving me answers….what do I do? 🙁

    1. You should know if you have the POA because you would physically have to have the piece of paper. The post you are being stationed at typically can’t assist with getting you housing until he has paper orders in hand – it can’t just be that he knows that’s where he is going. Does that help? If not, send me a message on facebook – http://www.facebook.com/marriedtothearmy

  7. Thank you so much for this info! My hubs is currently in the national guard however is going active army once his contract with the guard is up. I have soooo many questions as to what to expect when he enlists. Where can I go for specific questions or related experiences? I would love to know how the whole process from enlistment to ….well I don’t know what happens next, but that whole process.

  8. I am currently newly engaged to a soldier… It is his first deployment at the moment and it has taken a toll on our relationship. (Before he left, we got into an argument. 4 hours before he left…) I have no clue what to do when he gets home… do I leave that argument in the past, move on, and put my pride aside? I wish I knew what to do, but I am so new to this and haven’t experienced this ever before. We also just endured losing a child… So, there is that stress on our relationship at the moment as well… any pointers would be helpful as he is expected to return soon…

    1. I’m sorry about your child.

      As for the argument, unless it was a critical or life/death type issue, I would leave it behind. How long has he been deployed?

  9. Where do I begin. My husband and I have been married 9 months. He just enlisted and leaves in 9 days for basic and will be in his school right after basic. No visit home, so he’ll be gone a little over six months. I am also five months pregnant with our son and have never lived the military life style as he was an military brat. I am trying so hard to be supportive yet I am overwhelmed with sadness. There’s so much he will not be around for and I am now moving in with his mom during his absence. I’m excited and happy to be starting this new life but this will be our first child and I’m terrified to start alone. His mom is divorced from his father who retired in the military, but divorced after his retirement. So, I look to her for a lot of advice and answers. But she can be a handfull some times and even living with her pregnant and then with a new born makes me nervous. Any and all advice helps please be a understanding that I’m new to ALL of this. Deal with it is a little harsh to me.

    1. It’s tough and I think it’s especially tough on new marriages. My husband and I had been married for four years when he joined and together for 10 so we at least had some history to fall back on but it was still hard at times. Are you going to miss him? Of course. Will there be times when you think this was a horrible decision? Probably. But you can either wallow in pity for yourself all day or pick yourself up and keep going. Each time my husband deployed, I allowed myself one day to just lay in bed, eat crap food and watch sappy TV with crying as much as I wanted totally allowed. After that day was over, then it was time to realize I couldn’t just wish my life away waiting for a deployment or training to end. He doesn’t want you to be miserable, sitting at home just pining away for him. You’ll be pretty busy as soon as your little one arrives. And while it will be sad that he’ll be missing out on some aspects of that, it gives you a chance to also get a little creative in how you can document that time for him. Bottom line is you have to become a self sufficient, independent person to make it as an Army spouse (you may already be that – don’t know). As soon as you make the decision that your life doesn’t just stop because he’s gone, it will be easier to cope.

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