Lately I’ve had a lot of emails asking about what the military has to offer for the individual serving and their dependents. First, I wanted to thank you all for reading my posts! It truly means the world to me to know that people from all over are seeking information and assistance, and that I have been asked to be a part of that journey.
Second, I just wanted to be clear that being in the military, or living a military lifestyle, isn’t about what you receive; that’s simply an added benefit to assist in an often difficult lifestyle. But it’s a lifestyle that we choose with some semblance of an idea of what to expect. I feel like a lot of people get caught up in the “free” benefits, and they forget the bigger picture. This lifestyle is rewarding, but not because of money or discounts. That being said, I wanted to answer your questions through some great articles I have found, and to share some of the incredibly helpful benefits that the military and supporting organizations have to offer.
If you’re looking to buy a home, explore the options of a VA loan versus a regular home owner’s loan. VA loans often save you money in the long run, and help you to avoid the large down payment that’s usually required. See if you qualify for a VA loan, and learn more about the benefits here!
If you’re in a military relationship, you know how small the window of opportunity for a vacation is. You have to run around and get everything scheduled, and worry that plans could change at the last minute. And on top of that: it’s expensive.
Many active duty members don’t know that multiple airlines, hotels, and vacation attractions offer major discounts to service members through online and over-the-phone booking! USAA offers travel discounts if you’re a member, along with Amtrak, TripAdvisor, Wyndham Hotels and Resorts, and Southwest Airlines (over the phone only). These discounts can be incredibly helpful whether it’s just the two of you, or the whole family. Vacations certainly don’t happen often for Kyle and I, so we try our best to save some money in the process.
Any active duty service member can receive counseling through their military branch, whether it’s assistance with their education, finances, or mental health. There are a variety of free services and organizations that have been constructed with the primary goal to better the lives of the military community.
Many spouses and dependents don’t realize that these services are also obtainable for them. Counseling of any kind is offered in both individual and group based settings, allowing members to develop close ties to those in their situation. For more information on these services, check out Military One Source.
This has been a tricky subject when it comes to military personnel’s benefits, especially when it seems to be changing every few years. This article by AmeriForce strives to help us all understand the GI Bill post 9/11, and the ways it can assist in providing an eduction for service members and their dependents.
There are also multiple scholarships that are completely separate from the GI Bill that can assist in paying for an education. These scholarships can be specific to military spouses and children that are within the requirements. They even have certain scholarships for specific degrees and licensing schools. You can find more info about the MYCAA Scholarship for military spouses here. For info about transferring these benefits, go to your installation’s Education Office and the office of Veteran’s Affairs.
Although the military provides a lot of the clothing and equipment that your service member needs, they can’t provide all of it. I can’t even imagine how many tan tee shirts, running shoes, and combat boots that we have purchased. And those things add up over time, making it difficult for many families to provide the items that are needed. It would be different if these were just things that they wanted. These are things that can make a very difficult job just a little bit easier.
Luckily, there are many retail stores that help ease that burden by providing discounts for service members. Stores such as Under Armor, Oakley, and Cabela’s often have the clothing and shoes that are necessary in order for them to do their job, and the discounts help significantly with the more expensive items. Last week Kyle had to purchase ballistic eyewear for the shooting range, and Oakley is the only place near us where he could try them on and make sure they will work best. I knew he needed them to protect his eyes, but at $250, it’s a bit hard to swallow. But Oakley provided a 20% discount which saved us a good portion of money! It may not seem significant, but if you add it all up at the end of the month it really does make a huge difference.
What are some benefits that have greatly helped your family?