Military spouses face many challenges, so it’s nice to have benefits to balance the scale. Spouses can find many advantages ranging from educational benefits to employment opportunities. Many programs are provided automatically upon entrance to military service or marriage to a service member. Listed below are 5 top benefits not provided automatically, but available to military spouses to utilize.
Military Spouse Career Advancement Account (MyCAA)
One of the most advantageous programs offered to military spouses is the MyCAA Scholarship. This program offers up to $4,000 in financial assistance to military spouses who are pursuing any of the following offered by an institute aligned with the MyCAA Program:
- A License
- A Certification
- An Associates Degree
Spouses of active duty, guard, and reserve members holding the ranks of E-1 to E-5, W-1 to W-2, and O-1 to O-2 are eligible, and must be able to begin and complete their program while the military member is on Title 10 military orders.
Family Service Members’ Group Life Insurance (FSGLI):
Military spouses are eligible to receive up to $100,000 in life insurance coverage. Military members can elect to enroll their family members in this program for coverage of $10,000 to $100,000. Spouse and dependent coverage may not exceed the coverage held by the service member, and children are restricted to $10,000. Contact your Military Personnel Office for enrollment information.
The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) has established this small business loan program for veterans and spouses. Its purpose is to assist with the initial costs in establishing a small business, or costs related to expanding a small business. Low interest rates are assigned to the loans, typically ranging from 2.25%-4.75%. The SBA guarantees up to 85% of the total loan, with a maximum loan amount of $500,000.
Transferred GI Bill® Benefits
Education benefits can be transferred from service members to their spouses and children. Once the military member has reached the required time in service, he or she may elect to assign a portion or all of their GI Bill benefits to a family member. Benefits may be used while the military member is still serving in the Armed Forces. Spouses are able to use the benefits for up to 15 years after the military member separates from the Armed Forces, and children may use the benefits until they reach 26 years of age. Children may also be eligible for additional benefits, such as monthly housing allowances. Your installation’s Education Office and the Veteran’s Affairs (VA) office can provide additional details.
Military Spouse Preference (MSP) Program
With military spouse unemployment remaining high, any advantage that can assist in securing a desired position is helpful. Under the MSP, military spouses are given preferential employment placement in vacant Department of Defense (DoD) civilian positions. These vacancies may fall under either civil service or Appropriated/Non-Appropriates Funds. Please contact you local Civilian Personnel Office (CPO) or Human Resources Office (HRO) for current vacancies.
More Military Spouse Benefits
- Military Spouse Scholarships: There are many different types of scholarships made available including Federal and state, military branch specific, non-profits and milspouse club scholarships.
- Free On-Base Classes: Most bases offer many free classes to spouses including resources which help in confronting military life challenges from PCSing and deployments to new babies or new jobs.
- Military Discounts: Many businesses extend military discounts to spouses.
- National Park and Federal Recreational Land Pass: The National Park service issues free annual passes to 400 plus national parks for active duty military members, spouses and their dependents.
- Morale, Welfare & Recreation: From bowling alleys, cinemas and event tickets to childcare services and hobby shops, MWR offers a variety of opportunities.
- Commissaries & Exchanges: The commissaries and exchanges offer groceries sold at cost and name brand retail products at discounted pricing plus no sales tax.
- Military Lodging, Hotels & Travel: From cottages at the beach to cabins in the mountains, there are plenty of affordable destinations for a great family trip. If you are flexible on time and location, you can also look into Space A Travel.
- Free Healthcare: Active duty military members and their dependents receive free medical care including appointments, surgeries, births and medicine that is obtained on-base.
- Housing & BAH: Most military bases offer free housing and if you live off base there is Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH) compensation.
- Marriage Family Counseling: Military OneSource offers free, confidential face-to-face counseling and Military Family Life Consultants (MFLC) are on base at the Family Support and Readiness Center.
- Legal Assistance: Spouses can take advantage of a host of no-cost legal assistance services through Military One Source or Legal Assistance Centers. Whether you need help making sense of a lease agreement, creating an estate plan, seeking legal guidance on adoption or other matters.
- Financial Education & Resources: Through the DoD’s MilSpouse Money Mission get free financial education and resources from certified financial planners, professionals, an accredited financial counselors.
- Military Spouse Tax Benefits: The Military Spouses Residency Relief Act allows spouses to claim their original state of residence on their taxes, especially if from a state with a lower tax rate.
- Employment Opportunities: There are a variety of employment programs and events for military spouses including the Military Spouse Employment Partnership through Military One Source and opportunities through Hiring Our Heroes.
- Hiring Preference: Military spouses are given preferential employment placement in vacant Department of Defense (DoD) civilian positions.
- License Transfer: About half the states offers military spouses some type of license transfer benefit including permanent or temporary licenses or expedited processing.
- Unemployment Compensation due to PCS: Most states, not all, offer military spouse unemployment compensation due to a PCS.