Congratulations, you’ve officially tied the knot and would like to learn more regarding military marriage benefits.
The good news is that the military features a wide range of marriage benefits that assist with housing, food, and other living expenses.
Moreover, the top military marriage benefits provide quality access to health care, insurance, VA loans, and other programs.
Discover the 10 military marriage benefits you’ve (probably) never heard of.
Related Article – Military Spouse Appreciation Day: 3 Things You Need To Know
Table of Contents
10 Military Benefits of Marriage
There is little doubt that being married while serving in the U.S. Armed Forces is not easy, or for everyone.
However, getting married does feature some advantages, such as access to quality military benefits.
Military marriage benefits include housing and living allowances, health insurance, childcare, as well as access to the commissary and exchange.
Furthermore, these military benefits can also assist with educational opportunities and finding employment.
Military marriage benefits also feature admission into morale, welfare, and recreation (MWR) services along with military discounts at hundreds of retailers.
Therefore, if you are considering marriage (or recently made it official), consider these benefits offered to military personnel:
- Regular Pay
- Basic Allowance Housing (BAH)
- VA Home Loans
- Family Separation Allowance
- TRICARE (Health Insurance)
- Life Insurance / Military Burial Services
- VA Survivors Pension
- Education / Post 9/11 GI Bill Transfer
- Employment Opportunities
- Commissary & Exchange Access
- Morale, Welfare, & Recreation (MWR) Services
- Military and Family Life Counseling Program (MFLC)
- Military Discounts (for Service Members, Veterans, and Military Dependents)
It’s worthwhile that most (if not all) of these military marriage benefits apply to both spouses, along with eligible dependents.
Therefore, if you envision having children in the near future, they are also entitled to many of these benefits available to military families.
How to Sign-Up
It’s important to mention that making it official and getting married is not enough.
Service members also need to document their marriage in order to receive military benefits.
Accordingly, you’ll need to begin by registering under the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System (DEERS).
Next, service members will receive an email containing a military ID.
It’s crucial that you save that information as you’ll need it to access the account in the future.
From there, you’ll need to update your marriage status from “single” to “married.”
Additionally, a military spouse (and eligible dependents) will need to establish their own DEERS account to receive benefits.
Military spouses and dependents will need to reserve some time as well as gather appropriate documentation, such as a copy of the marriage certificate.
Now, let’s examine 10 military marriage benefits you were probably unaware existed:
#1. Basic Pay
In the U.S. Armed Forces, service members receive equal pay regardless of family status.
Thus, your basic pay allowance is determined by military rank and years of service.
However, that’s not to suggest that there are no opportunities for promotion or special pay.
Accordingly, individuals in the military can earn as much as they put into service – within certain boundaries, of course.
In general, military couples receive supplemental income thanks to a couple of allowances (more information, below):
- Basic Allowance for Subsistence (BAS)
- Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH)
It’s worth noting that the pay structure of the Army National Guard and Reserve is slightly different.
Otherwise, basic pay in the military is pretty straightforward regardless of if you are married or not.
Depending on your branch, where you’re assigned, and the facilities available, you may not get much of a choice of where you live. You’ll also have to take your meals at base facilities or pay out of pocket.
In most cases, single enlisted service members are assigned to barracks or dorms. Your rank may determine whether or not you have your own room or a roommate assigned to you.
Married military members, however, have access to family housing. And if family housing isn’t available on base, the military will add BAH to your paycheck to cover the rent or mortgage on quarters more suitable for family living.
Similarly, if you’re living off base or in family housing, instead of access to the base dining facilities, you’ll receive BAS to help cover grocery expenses.
So if you’re ready to tie the knot, it’s good to know that you won’t be expected to spend your honeymoon in the barracks. You’ll get access to appropriate quarters and perhaps even some extra spending cash.
#2. Housing Assistance / VA Home Loans
Military marriage benefits really become noteworthy when you consider the housing assistance available to couples.
For starters, active-duty service members are entitled to a Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH).
The allowance is calculated based on location, hence places with a higher cost of living equals a higher BAH payout.
The only exception is during “hardship duty assignments” in which the BAH is determined by the location of residence, not duty station.
Regardless, military BAH is delivered 2x per month and certainly helps military families get by.
VA Home Loans
Even more importantly, military marriage benefits include VA home loan eligibility.
Those that are A) missing in action, B) a prisoner of war, or C) perished because of service (or a service-related disability) also qualify for a Certificate of Eligibility (COE).
Notwithstanding, military spouses must still apply for a loan and go through a standard credit check.
The main benefit of VA loans is that this guarantee works as a sort of signator on the loan. The VA guarantees a large percentage of your loan to the bank, which means you won’t have to also pay for mortgage insurance.
It also means that you can purchase a home without a down payment.
#3. Military Marriage Allowances
There are several military allowances that apply directly to those that are married.
For example, the Basic Allowance for Subsistence (BAS) provides food assistance for the service member, but not military dependents.
On the other hand, the Family Separation Allowance is paid directly to a military spouse.
It helps to cover living expenses while a service member is away on duty and for an extended period of time.
The Family Separation Allowance is tax-exempt with payouts that begin after 30 days of separation.
#4. Health Care
There is no doubt that family members do not take having health insurance for granted.
For this reason, one of the top military marriage benefits is access to quality health care.
Those that are married to a service member also inherit access to TRICARE.
However, in order to enjoy these benefits, you’ll first need to register for health care with the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System (DEERS).
Then, once military spouses receive a TRICARE ID card, they can use it for a variety of medical services.
TRICARE for dependents offers multiple health plan options including:
- TRICARE Select
- US Family Health Plan (in specific U.S. locations)
- TRICARE For Life (with Medicare Part A & B coverage)
- TRICARE Select Overseas
- TRICARE Young Adult (dependent adult children only)
Those married in the military with children should also consider enrolling in a family option.
Those conflicted over which healthcare option is best for their needs, should consult this resource.
Lastly, it’s worth mentioning that military marriage benefits include other types of insurance:
- Dental Insurance
- Life Insurance
Currently, the U.S. Armed Forces utilize United Concordia for its dental insurance.
Related Article – Military Spouse Preference Program
There has never been a bigger incentive for military personnel and dependents to take advantage of educational opportunities.
Currently, the U.S. government features an abundance of programs that assist service members and veterans with attaining a degree.
And, what’s more, these educational opportunities are also available to a military spouse or other eligible dependents.
So, those seeking to advance a career should consider the Post 9/11 G.I. Bill transfer and other financial aid opportunities.
These types of financial aid are generally scholarships or grants, meaning you don’t have to pay back the money you receive for books and tuition.
Moreover, there are various scholarship opportunities depending on the military branch, so make sure to inquire within.
Military benefits regarding education also apply to children until they reach the age of 26, which helps secure their future as well.
Therefore, if you or a military dependent wants to earn a new license, certification, associate’s degree, or bachelor’s degree — the military is one of the best avenues to affording college.
#6. Employment & Training
School isn’t for everyone.
If that applies to you or a loved one, the better alternative to higher learning might be seeking immediate employment.
Accordingly, the Armed Forces offer a ton of services dedicated to helping individuals find jobs as well as receive the training they need to be successful.
For example, the Military Spouse Career Advancement Program (MyCAA) awards thousands to military spouses seeking to improve their job prospects.
As a result, the funds can go toward receiving a license or certification that helps secure a job.
Military spouses are eligible for employment services and resources like this at the lower ranks, along with the National Guard and Reserve.
#7. Military Family Commissary & Exchange
Then, there are forms of non-monetary compensation that also qualify as military benefits for married couples.
For example, the commissary and exchange were established specifically for military families.
It assists spouses and dependents with everyday items that would otherwise cost a fortune.
For this reason, military families can find tremendous deals on everything from food to furniture to electronics.
The Defense Commissary Agency (DeCA) manages these establishments, which are operated by independent companies but send back a portion of proceedings to military programs.
Additionally, these stores (which include gas stations, fast food, liquor stores, etc) are usually tax-exempt, which ultimately makes a difference.
Those with a valid military ID are permitted to purchase or exchange items from military commissaries.
#8. Military Welfare and Recreation (MWR)
The military understands that the morale and welfare of service members are important.
Moreover, this also applies to military spouses, who face many of the same struggles and difficulties as service members.
For this reason, the Department of Defense (DoD) created Military Welfare and Recreation (MWR).
The program is a significant feature of any military installation and generally includes features like workout gyms and swimming pools.
Some of the more lavish military bases feature forms of recreation like bowling, movie theatres, and golf courses.
Here, service members and eligible dependents receive access to discounted equipment rentals and other services.
For example, many bases feature youth programs as well as daycare services (more details, below).
Recreation opportunities include typical competitive sports like basketball, volleyball, and flag football, along with dance classes and other clubs.
Fittingly, there is probably something for everyone if you spend enough time visiting an MWR facility.
Even better, MWR operates multiple vacation destinations across the globe, including locations in Virginia and Florida.
Those interested should contact a local MWR office to discover what programs and amenities are currently available.
Regardless of what you do to unwind and relax, the MWR programs are terrific ways to have fun and bond with other military families.
You may have inherited a dependent(s) through marriage.
Or, it may be something that you are planning on in the future with a significant other.
Regardless of your plans, it’s worth mentioning that several military benefits assist children as well.
For example, many military bases provide childcare.
Military families have the option of paying for hourly daycare or subscribing to full-time daycare.
Often, childcare is more affordable in the military because the costs of the service are determined based on the total income of the family.
Consequently, low-income military families generally receive a significant break in terms of childcare costs.
Unfortunately, there are long waiting lists at some daycare facilities so you’ll want to contact them ASAP.
The other alternative is a subsidized in-home daycare, which also provides discounted childcare services.
It’s been well documented that military couples face extraordinary obstacles when attempting to have a happy, successful marriage.
Consequently, it never hurts to seek professional advice if you and a partner are currently having some issues.
There are several reasons why individuals may feel like there is a divide in a living arrangement that involves military service.
For starters, military service requires significant time away from a loved one, including missed holidays together.
Likewise, the worry and stress of a service member being overseas or in a dangerous situation put a ton of strain on marriages.
Nevertheless, it’s more than possible to survive a marriage while in the military.
And, you can definitely increase your odds, by seeking marriage counseling and other counseling services available to military personnel and dependents.
The Military and Family Life Counseling Program (MFLC) provides marriage counseling on and off base, and attendance is not reported in a military record.
Related Article – Navy Career Counselor: Career Details
#9. Survivors Pension / Military Burial Arrangements
Sadly, military spouses also have to consider the prospect of a loved one losing their life while in service.
Despite the hard subject matter, it’s worthwhile to mention that military benefits in marriage feature a lot of assistance in this regard.
Therefore, if a service member does perish, the VA Survivors Pension is there as a safeguard.
The pension entitles military spouses to monthly payments with an amount that is calculated based on a few factors.
Additionally, survivors of deceased military personnel also may qualify for VA Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC).
Once again, the monthly amount is determined by multiple factors, yet assists family survivors nonetheless.
You’ll need to complete VA Form 21P-534EZ in order to apply for these types of military benefits.
It’s important to note that U.S. military veterans are entitled to burial at a VA national cemetery at no cost, as long as they didn’t receive a dishonorable discharge. This benefit is active for the rest of their lives, long after military service has ended. Their spouse also has access to this benefit.
Finally, the government makes reimbursements for funeral and military burial arrangements if the service member fell while on active duty.
Please note the deadline to apply for funeral/burial reimbursement is two years following the date posted on the death certificate.
#10. Military Discounts
Military discounts are clearly one of the biggest advantages of being married to military personnel.
Often, these discounts entitle service members and eligible military dependents to hundreds of dollars in savings.
Military discounts vary depending on the company but usually guarantee savings between 15-60%.
What’s more, military discounts are not only available at hundreds of retailers but also available for travel expenses like lodging and car rentals.
There is no debate that military families are always looking for methods to save, and this is one of the best benefits which applies to marriage.
Marriage in the military presents its fair share of challenges.
Accordingly, the government has attempted to remedy some of these hardships by offering benefits.
These military benefits (intended for couples with a marriage certificate) provide access to highly desirable allowances, programs, services, and other benefits like healthcare.
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