Budgeting and Saving – The Essentials

Man in a military uniform shows a stack of twenty dollar bills.

In the military, you learn to prepare for the future using the tools at your disposal. When it comes to saving money, the military provides several tools so you can build a secure financial future. The more money you save, the more prepared you will be for opportunities or unexpected events that come your way. You may want to buy a new car, help your children pay for college or start contributing to your retirement. Military OneSource provides the resources and information to help you master the skills of budgeting and saving so that you can build financial security.

Start saving with these steps:

Track your expenses.

You may be surprised at how small daily costs can add up. Examine your monthly cash flow to see how much is coming in and going out. What does your housing payment look like? How much do you spend on car loans, household bills and entertainment costs? To get help with tracking your expenses, there are multiple apps you can download for free. There are also many comprehensive software programs available.

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Live within your means.

Get on the right financial track by tracking your expenses and deciding the best ways to allocate your paycheck for long-term financial success. You’ll find ways to successfully manage your budget, great (even some easy) ways to save money and steps to take to help you live within a budget, while managing to squirrel away some savings.

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Reduce expenses.

There are many ways to reduce expenses and save money. Start with using military discounts, reducing energy use, couponing and tapping into Department of Defense travel services. Consider doing home repairs and maintenance yourself or swap services or trade time with a neighbor.

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Save during deployment.

With deployment comes some additional cash, providing a good opportunity to save money and work toward financial security. Set savings goals that will make the most of your special payments. Decide how much you need to save each pay period to reach your goal. Make your savings goal official by taking a pledge with the Military Saves campaign.

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Parenting Youth and Teens – The Essentials

Father with arm around son

As a parent, one of your most important jobs is to raise children and teens who are prepared to cope in healthy ways with changing circumstances such as deployments, moves and new schools, as well as unexpected challenges such as the coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic.

Military OneSource is available to help you parent at every stage, offering information about making moves easier for your children, helping you support your child at school and talking to your teens about important topics such as substance abuse and managing stress. Here are a few ways Military OneSource can help you develop strong, resilient children.

Military Kids Connect

Service members and their families have access to this engaging website, which connects military children through an online community, prepares youth for upcoming moves and offers fun through a variety of tools and games. Your children can even learn about their future home through the teen-led video tours available for many installations. Military Kids Connect also has information to help adults understand what it takes to support military children at home and at school. Check out the ways your children can connect with others who have been there.

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School support for your child

Giving your children a head start in their education and helping them safely navigate through the sometimes-tricky terrain of school is a top parenting priority. Contact your local school liaison for information specific to your installation. School liaisons work with families to help navigate school transitions, deployments, college questions and information including scholarship and grant resources, special education and compliance support for the Military Interstate Children’s Compact Commission. Your school liaison can help you with wide range of education needs.

Military OneSource also offers parenting resources to help your children thrive at school. We can help you support your child by providing guidance on a successful transition to a new school, connecting you with tutoring information or helping you navigate standardized testing in high school.

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MWR Digital Library

The MWR Digital Library is a great resource to assist your child or teen with educational needs and make learning fun through its expansive, personalized and often interactive resources that reach across all levels of learning. You can:

  • Gain access to tutors and connect your military child or teen with live online help across more than 16 subjects.
  • Access video storybooks, audiobooks, eLearning tutorials and reading materials for practically all areas of learning.
  • Find practice exams and other information to help students prepare for college.

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Making moves easier for your children

Moving is part of military life, and it can be tough on children and teens. Military OneSource provides you with tips that can make your next move a smooth one. Plan ahead as much as possible. The more you talk about your new home ahead of time, the easier the relocation will be for your children — and you.

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Managing teen stress

Teenage life can be very stressful, and this is especially true during the pandemic. There are many things to juggle including disruptions to learning schedules and shifting between socially distanced and virtual schooling methods, fitting in at school, managing class work and clubs, and dealing with a changing body and hormones. Your job is to help steer them through these tricky years. Military OneSource offers tips for recognizing stress in your teen and ways to help your adolescent manage emotions.

Child and youth behavioral military and family life counselors can be found at installation youth and child development centers as well as at military family support centers. Military and family life counselors are available to meet with military children and youth and their families to discuss self-esteem issues, relationships at home and school, behavioral issues, and changes at home such as deployment, reunion, divorce and grief. Child and youth behavioral counselors also support camps that create a safe and fun environment where children and teens can learn how to put their military-life strengths to use in their everyday lives.

Call Military OneSource at 800-342-9647 or set up a live chat today for assistance with all your parenting needs. OCONUS/International? Click here for calling options. If stress leads to more serious problems with your youth, contact your crisis help line immediately.

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Talking to your teen about difficult topics

It’s important to keep communication open with your teen about topics such as identifying and seeking treatment for substance abuse, maintaining healthy relationships, and managing part-time employment opportunities and taking on additional responsibilities. Review our tips on addressing these important issues with your adolescent and where you can go for some extra support if you need it.

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Parenting Through Deployment – The Essentials

Service member and his daughter

For MilParents, deployment preparation has an extra, important step — preparing your children for each phase of the deployment cycle (before, during and after deployment).

There may not be one right way to prepare children for a deployment, but you can use these tools, resources and methods to create a customized plan to support your family.

Preparing for deployment as a parent

Put your textbooks away. There is no by-the-book way to prepare your child for the separation that comes with deployment. Formulating a family-specific plan for your military deployment will take parental instinct, communication and planning. Here are some strategies to get you started.

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Having a baby when deployed

Birth doesn’t wait for deployment to end. Whether you are the spouse of a deployed service member who has just given birth or a service member away from the magical moment, you still can be connected to each other and experience the delivery. Military OneSource provides strategies so you can stay connected to your growing family.

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Helping children and youth deal with deployment

A deployment can bring out strong emotions in family members and cause stress and anxiety, especially in children. By understanding how preschool and school-age children react during deployments and by preparing ahead of time for this big change, you can make sure each phase of the deployment is successful. Check out steps to create your own deployment plan and tips for supporting your children through each phase of the deployment cycle. In addition to Military OneSource resources, Sesame Street for Military Families and Military Kids Connect have programs and videos for children and youth whose parents are deploying.

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Helping families transition when deployment ends

Reunion after deployment can cause mixed emotions. While it is often an exciting time, some stress also is normal. Whether this is your family’s first or fifth reunion, each one is different and the change can be difficult. Be patient with yourself, your spouse and your children, and don’t be afraid to ask for help.

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Higher Education for Your Children – The Essentials

Teen girl being awarded scholarship

Military OneSource stands by your side with information and resources so you can support your child’s education. Military families have several options when it comes to financing your youth’s college or trade school education, including scholarships, Post-9/11 GI Bill® benefits, education grants, loans and college savings programs. Your children’s goals are as important as your own, and Military OneSource has your back as you plan for this milestone.

Here are several ways to make college or trade school education possible for your youth:

Start saving early

Regardless of your child’s age, start saving now. It may seem daunting, but there are plenty of ways to put some money away now that will pay dividends to your child’s college education down the line. There are many savings plans available, including 529 Plans, which allow your savings to grow tax-free. The Office of Financial Readiness is available to help with your financial planning. Talk to a personal financial counselor at your installation. You can also arrange to speak with an education consultant through Military OneSource. Call 800-342-9647 or live chat to schedule an appointment with an education consultant. Appointments are available seven days a week.

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Scholarships for military children

There are numerous scholarships available to children of service members. Each scholarship has different eligibility requirements. Check carefully to find the scholarships right for your student’s educational goals, then apply, apply, apply. The wider the net you cast, the greater your chances of finding a financial partner to help pay for college. Contact your installation school liaison for scholarship opportunities in your community.

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Look into loans

If you’re taking out a loan, be sure to read the fine print. Colleges and universities will offer a host of financial aid packages, so research each carefully to make sure you’re signing up for the right one. You also have the option to borrow directly from the government. Create a personal financial aid spreadsheet to compare which loans and aid your student qualifies for. There are several loans available, including Direct Stafford Loans, PLUS loans and Federal Perkins Loans. A Military OneSource education consultant can also help answer your questions.

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Apply for grants

In addition to scholarships, there are plenty of education grants which families don’t have to repay, such as Federal Pell Grants and the Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunities Grant Program, or FSEOG. To begin the grant process, start with the FAFSA, the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. Most colleges and universities use this form to determine students’ eligibilities for aid, grants and scholarships.

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Students with special needs

Most colleges and universities now offer in-person and distance learning options that allow for equal access to learning for students with disabilities. To find the right fit for your student seeking traditional learning, begin the search early for higher education. Visit the school virtually or in person, talk to the disability service offices on prospective campuses and reach out to current students with similar disabilities to better understand their learning and living experiences.

Your student may also decide a different career path might be a better fit. Many opportunities exist for additional learning and career growth, through internships and apprenticeships, adult education programs, job training programs and comprehensive postsecondary transition programs, or CPTs. PACER Center, and its Transitioning to Life After High School content, provides invaluable resources for families with exceptional family members.

If your teen has an individualized education program, or IEP, he or she can choose to receive additional educational support and assistance through age 21. While an IEP doesn’t extend to higher education institutions, students with 504 plans can take those plans with them to college.

Families with exceptional family members can explore postsecondary education with the help of their installation’s Exceptional Family Member Program and can find links to their state’s transition resources in the Education Directory for Children with Special Needs. Parents and guardians can also reach out to Military OneSource by phone at 800-342-9647 or set up a live chat to schedule an appointment to talk with a special needs consultant. Appointments are available seven days a week.

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Travel Planning – The Essentials

Plane taking off on runway

You joined the armed forces because you love an adventure, but getting from point A to point B doesn’t happen automatically. Military OneSource is here to point you to resources that can assist you with your travel planning and help you make the most of your excursions, whether you book a cruise in the Caribbean or venture a few miles outside of your neighborhood.

Get started with these ideas:

Consider Space-A travel.

Service members and their families can use Space-Available flights to travel. Though sometimes unpredictable, military flights are perfect for families with flexible plans and limited travel budgets. You can sign up for a Space-A flight through a military terminal up to 60 days in advance.

Note: Effective March 21, 2020, Air Mobility Command temporarily suspended most Space-A travel due to COVID-19.

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Take advantage of TSA Precheck®

Service members and their families can take advantage of TSA Precheck to expedite waiting time at the airport when flying commercial. Simply use your Department of Defense ID as your known traveler number. You’ll bypass long security lines without removing your shoes or jacket or having to take your laptop out of your bag.

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Get military discounts through American Forces Travel℠.

Eligible members of the military community can use American Forces Travel℠ to book leisure travel online. The one-stop travel booking site is a joint service initiative that offers discounts on airfare, rental cars, flights, cruises and more. You can use the website to book your next trip, while helping to fund other current and future morale, welfare and recreation programs.

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Save money with a staycation.

A staycation is a vacation where you discover your local area while avoiding the time, hassle and expense of travel. Consider these benefits: sleeping in your own bed, not needing to pack and spending your money on fun activities in your own community. Your MWR program can help you find the best local activities.

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Travel benefits for college students.

Military family members enrolled in colleges away from an active-duty parent’s OCONUS duty station are eligible for travel benefits. The government will pay for one round trip each fiscal year for college students if they meet certain requirements. This travel benefit must be authorized through the service member’s command and be completed through the military travel office.

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Youth Employment – The Essentials

Student receives training at his summer job on a military installation

A first job is an important milestone in a student’s life. Taking the first steps toward financial independence, as well as making a commitment to an employer, is both exciting and nerve-wracking. With the addition of geographic moves, military youth have their own unique experiences and challenges when it comes to securing employment. Military OneSource provides plenty of resources to help military families assist their teens as they tackle their first job search. Use the resources and strategies below to help your teen take the first steps toward employment success.

Filling out a job application

Your teen can find available jobs on most company websites or by inquiring at the place of business. Teens can also get assistance with their job searches through local teen or youth programs and Military and Family Support Center, which offer knowledgeable staff, classes and computer access. Teaching your teen the basics of completing job applications will help alleviate confusion and anxiety about job searching. Whether your teen will be completing an application at the place of business or a fillable form online, here is the general information requested on applications:

  • Basic information. This information includes name, address and contact information.
  • Available start date. If your teen is heavily involved in extracurricular activities such as basketball or skiing, starting a job in November might not be the right time to put the best foot forward with the employer. Help your teen figure out the optimum time to begin earning extra cash.
  • Hours available to work each week. Before applying for a job, your teen should determine how many hours he or she can work each week and still meet obligations of school work and demands of extracurricular activities and meetings. Help your teen lay out his or her average weekly schedule and determine the work time available within that schedule.
  • Desired salary. This is often minimum wage for entry-level positions.
  • Skills relevant to the job or to being a reliable worker.
  • Resume or cover letter. These items, especially the cover letter, should be customized for each employer and personalized with the hiring manager’s name whenever possible. Even if the application asks for work history, these documents are often requested to be uploaded for online applications.
  • Work history. This information includes company name and phone number, the position held, responsibilities and dates of employment.
  • Education history. Be sure to include school name and type, such as high school or college.
  • References. These can be personal and/or work-related, depending on your teen’s work history. References should always be asked ahead of time if they are comfortable serving as a reference; they should also be alerted to which employers your teen has applied so they are prepared when an employer reaches out for a job reference. In addition to your teen’s relationship to the references, you will need to provide contact information, including phone numbers and email addresses. Your teen should always thank references once a job is obtained.
  • Equal Employment Opportunity and veteran status, as well as self-identification of any disability.

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Getting the resume ready.

Make sure your son or daughter has a good resume ready to go. You never know when an employment opportunity will arise and a solid resume allows your child to be ready when opportunities occur. Use Military OneSource and the Department of Labor’s Career OneStop tools to draft the resume, compare formats and styles and explore resume guidelines, tips and samples to ensure your child’s resume looks professional. Teens can also get assistance with resume development or review through local teen or youth programs and Military and Family Support Center.

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Completing employment documentation

Employment documentation is confusing for adults, let alone someone facing these documents for the first time. Your child will be asked to complete the following forms in the first day(s) of employment. All of the required documentation should be treated as sensitive information. To avoid identity theft, your child should never email or leave this information with anyone but the hiring manager.

  • Work permit
    • Work permits vary by state, but typically teens between the ages of 14 and 17 will need to acquire work permits. Have your teen consult the high school guidance or counseling office or contact the superintendent’s office.
  • W-4, or Employee’s Withholding Allowance Certificate
    • This form sets up your child’s federal income tax withholding.
    • The W-4 requires your child’s social security number.
  • I-9, or Employment Eligibility Verification
    • The I-9 requires both proof of identity and authorization to work.
    • This form also requires your child’s social security number.
    • There are many acceptable combinations for employment eligibility verification, but the most common documents used for verification are:
      • Passport only
      • Both a valid driver’s license and birth certificate
    • Your child can find a complete list of acceptable I-9 documentation at USCIS.gov.

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Setting up direct deposit for paychecks

Most employers pay via direct deposit into a savings or checking account. If your child hasn’t already done so, visit your local bank branch to set up an account. Direct deposits are handled through the Automated Clearing House network, and your child can expect pay deposits to show up on his or her monthly bank statements coded with the acronym ACH. The following information is required to set up direct deposit:

  • Bank account number
  • Bank routing number (ask your bank for its specific nine-digit code)
  • Account type (savings or checking)
  • Bank name and address (any branch will do)
  • Name(s) of all account holders on the account

Exploring internships.

Interning is a great way to get your teen’s foot in the door. Your teen can learn a lot about the company while making valuable connections. Ask around your installation, community centers and local businesses about internship opportunities. Job websites, such as Indeed, also list internships opportunities for both high school and college students, and you can search MilitaryINSTALLATIONS for opportunities at your installation. The Department of Defense offers internship opportunities through its STEM program, available to both high school and college students.

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Finding and connecting with a mentor

The military community is full of role models who your youth can learn about their job experience. A strong network is key, and a mentor can unlock educational and professional connections. Better yet, mentors can provide the support, guidance and coaching that will help your son or daughter figure out the right path. Start by asking a future mentor for a 15-20 minute conversation. Have your son or daughter explore your community arsenal for someone who can help:

  • Neighbor, relative or family friend
  • Trusted employer or manager
  • Counselor, coach or teacher
  • Camp counselor or youth group leader
  • Religious leader

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Building skills through volunteering.

You are part of a community committed to serving, and there are plenty of volunteer opportunities in and around your installation. It’s a great way for your youth to build resume skills, make connections and stay busy during their job search. Your installation youth center or military family readiness center can connect your youth to a volunteer coordinator who can provide a list of volunteer openings.

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Adoption – The Essentials

Service member and his daughter

Military life isn’t a barrier to adoption anymore. Adoption agencies now know that military families can provide adopted children with wonderful homes. Adoption can be a great way to start and grow your family; however, you should make this decision carefully and consider some aspects unique to military life when deciding to adopt.

Here are the essentials about adopting while in the military:

Know your adoption options.

Military families have five adoption options, including agency adoption, independent adoption, identified adoption (a blend of agency and independent adoption), open adoption (where there is communication between adoptive parents, the birth parents and the child) and international adoption. You’ll want to know the ins and outs of each approach so you can think carefully about what kind of support you’ll need in the process. Military OneSource can help you get started.

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The high costs associated with adoption can deter some families from considering it as a viable option. Fortunately, there are resources available for military families to help you finance the future of your family. From assistance with adoption expenses to tax credits and non-chargeable leave, you will be well supported with this major life decision.

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Learn about overseas adoption.

Adoption can be more complicated when living overseas, but there are agencies and support groups to guide you. Many military families in the same situation successfully adopt every year. If the timing’s right for you to grow your family, living overseas won’t be an obstacle to adoption. We offer an overview about the process and suggestions for a successful adoption.

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Know what to expect in an adoption home study.

Adoption involves a lot of steps, one of which is the home study. It’s a standard part of the adoption process. Working closely with a social worker or counselor, a home study can take several months. Be patient. Understand that a thorough home study is in the best interest of you and the child you plan to welcome into your family. Here, you’ll find what’s involved and tips for completing a successful home study.

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Fitness, Nutrition and Active Living – The Essentials

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Optimal health begins with nutrition, fitness and active living. From guidelines on developing healthy eating habits and ideas on how to stay fit to strategies for giving your child a happy, healthy start, Military OneSource provides practical and fresh content as well as initiatives and programs that will motivate you to maintain healthy living and manage your health in creative ways. Now, more than ever, it is important to incorporate healthy daily practices into your complex schedules to help promote physical, mental and emotional wellness for all.

Practice good nutrition

Healthy eating requires developing new diet habits like limiting sugar, snacking on fruits and vegetables and choosing whole grains. Get your child’s day off to a good start with a breakfast high in protein and whole grains and keep healthy snacks available throughout the day. Aim for five servings of fruits and vegetables a day. Your local farmers market and military commissary are two great places to buy fresh produce at reasonable prices.

My MilLife Guide is a great way to keep your family’s health goals on target. When you sign up for My MilLife Guide as a service member or a military spouse, expert content pertaining to your goals will be delivered right to your mobile device.

You can also sign up for Military OneSource health and wellness coaching sessions. This service is free for service members and their immediate family. Consultants can help you with weight management, fitness, nutrition, stress management and more. Sign up today. Call Military OneSource at 800-342-9647. OCONUS? Click here for international dialing options or schedule a live chat.

Turn to Military OneSource for other helpful strategies on eating right.

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Help your child create a balanced, healthy day from start to finish

It’s important to teach children as early as possible actions and choices that promote health and happiness. Start by encouraging good nutrition and feeding them a hearty breakfast every morning, ensure healthy snacks are available throughout the day — at home and school — and be sure to take breaks to keep the body moving, whether it’s a family walk around the block or a quick game to get the blood pumping. Encourage physical activity at the end of the day as much as possible to lessen additional screen time. Promote good sleep habits and teach them how to communicate and express their feelings.

Here are some family activities to stay active and stay connected:

  • Engage in a backyard relay
  • Play a game of Duck, Duck, Goose
  • Act out your favorite story book character
  • Plan a backyard picnic or camping night
  • Read bedtime stories together
  • Draw your favorite movie character
  • Host a family game night
  • Have a family movie night with healthy movie-themed snacks
  • Eat dinner under the stars
  • Have a family bake-a-thon and host it virtually if all of your loved ones aren’t together

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Improve family fitness

Make fitness and active living an important part of your family life. Swap some of your daily screen time for a stroll around the neighborhood with your children, a short bike ride, a game of kickball, a Frisbee toss in the backyard or hop scotch. Start the day with morning stretches or beginner yoga and sprinkle in movement breaks throughout the day. Get creative and have fun! Plant or weed a garden, wash the car, walk the dog, play freeze tag, rake leaves or pick up sticks. Your installation’s Morale, Welfare and Recreation is a great resource to get the entire family moving – with fitness classes, sports teams, golf courses, outdoor recreation programs and more.

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Access nutrition and fitness resources

Don’t be afraid to tap into the support you need to meet your nutrition and fitness goals. Military OneSource provides health and wellness coaching sessions to help you eat better, get in shape, manage stress and tackle transitions. We highlight a wide range of nutrition and fitness resources, tools and programs that will motivate you on the path to healthy living.

A new text-based service from the Military Health System and Military OneSource can help you get back on track. My MilLife Guide is like having a portable health and wellness coach who will regularly send you texts, or “GuideTips,” to support you as you take care of yourself and your family. These texts will lead you to proven resources developed for the military community.

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Healthy habits for remote learning and work

At the forefront of parental concern is how to focus on good nutrition and activity habits in a world of remote learning and remote socializing. As parents, it’s important to focus on the key principles of setting your child up for mental, physical and emotional well-being. Model the behavior you’d like to see in your child and set a daily schedule that’s healthy and balanced for all.

  • Start your day off with a healthy, balanced breakfast.
  • Stay active during the day. Encourage your children to get their bodies moving in the morning with stretching or yoga and intersperse active breaks throughout the day. Run around outside on short school breaks. Stuck inside? Toss beanbags into laundry baskets, build a fort with blankets and pillows, grab a hula hoop, play Duck, Duck, Goose or schedule a 10-minute virtual dance party with your child’s friends after classes end and before homework begins.
  • Model healthy screen use. While increased screen time is inevitable in a world of virtual learning and social distancing, there are several ways parents can model healthy screen use and reclaim control of screen time.
    • Practice the 20-20-20 rule: For every 20 minutes in front of your screen, look at an object 20 feet away for 20 seconds before returning to your screen.
    • Blink! Studies show that eye strain increases because we don’t blink as often while we’re concentrating on our screens. Remind your child to blink often.
    • Keep your screen at arm’s length. Keeping your screen approximately 25 inches away from your eyes reduces eye strain from blue light exposure.
    • Be sure to put all of your devices to bed two hours before sleep as blue light has been shown to disrupt sleep patterns.
    • Enjoy a media-free meal each day for all family members.
    • Try instituting a device-free day each month for all family members.
  • Engage in non-screen family activities. Play board games or work on a family puzzle instead of watching TV. Take a bike ride or family walk. Have a picnic in the yard.

Whatever your schedules and challenges, Military OneSource is here to support you and your family as you improve your overall health through nutrition, physical fitness and emotional well-being.

Pre-K to 12 Education – The Essentials

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Supporting your child’s education is one of your most important responsibilities as a parent. By cultivating a love of learning and knowledge at a young age, you put your child on a path to success so they can open doors on endless future opportunities.

Military OneSource can help you build a strong foundation of learning for your child. This includes building a relationship with your child’s school and tapping into the support and resources of your military community – all to help you help your child succeed.

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed how children learn as well as the interaction between families and their schools, at least for the time being. But there are resources available to help you and your child navigate the challenges brought on by the pandemic. These include strategies on how to nurture learning from home as well as some learning materials you can tap into.

Received PCS orders? Before you go, contact your school liaison.

Find out how a school liaison can help you and your family navigate school selection and youth sponsorship.

Support your child’s education with these five steps:

1. Start learning young.

Starting early means laying a foundation for lifelong learning and success in school. This can happen at home or in a child development center. The Department of Defense developed Early Learning Matters curriculum to give military children a strong foundation by promoting skills linked to school readiness, well-being and life success. If you are stationed overseas, Sure Start – a Department of Defense Education Activity program – is open to command-sponsored military children who meet specific age requirements and other criteria. You can also take advantage of Thrive, a free online parenting program. The on-demand courses promote positive parenting, stress management and healthy lifestyle practices. Find out how Thrive can help you raise healthy, resilient children from birth to 18.

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2. Connect with your child’s school.

Your relationship with the school demonstrates to your child and the school’s staff the importance you attach to education. Even if you relocate often or are temporarily deployed, you can build a relationship with the school by meeting the teacher, volunteering, attending school events or joining a parent group.

Keep in mind that how you engage with your child’s school may require different strategies during the pandemic, including meeting with teachers and other parents online and attending meetings virtually, or practicing social distancing and following other safety protocols when attending events.

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3. Nurture learning at home.

Learning doesn’t stop when the school day ends. A child absorbs as much or more at home and through his or her experiences as through a textbook. To encourage learning at home, establish a routine to keep children on schedule with their homework and provide plenty of praise for a job well done. This has never been more relevant than during the pandemic. Take advantage of available resources to help with schooling at home. And look for additional opportunities to foster learning during activities such as cooking, gardening and food shopping. They present opportunities to strengthen skills such as science, math and reading.

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4. Use your MWR Digital Library’s learning resources.

The Morale, Welfare and Recreation Digital Library is another resource to supplement classroom learning. Use its expansive, personalized and interactive resources to:

  • Gain access to tutors and connect your military child or teen with live online help in a variety of subjects.
  • Access video storybooks, audiobooks, eLearning tutorials and reading materials for virtually all areas of learning. You can also find practice exams and other information to help students prepare for college.

In addition, the MWR Summer Reading Program is a great resource to help families bridge the summer learning gap.

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5. Reach out to experts when it’s time to move.

The school liaison program, resources and partnerships help military children thrive academically, socially and emotionally, regardless of duty station, deployments or transition status. To learn more about the school liaison program, contact your installation school liaison office. For your installation’s school liaison office phone number and email address, visit the Department of Defense Education Activity website.

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Support your child’s education

Supporting your child’s education requires time, commitment and the right information. Education consultants can assist you with questions. These one-on-one sessions are free and confidential. The consultants can provide you with referrals to in-home tutors and tutoring centers in your area, as well as public and private school information. Call 800-342-9647 at any time to schedule an appointment. International? View overseas calling options.

Preparing, Filing and Tax Refunds – The Essentials

Soldier holds one hundred dollar bill

T-A-X-E-S. This five-letter word doesn’t have to bring on a feeling of dread. Get ahead of your taxes and stay organized with Military OneSource MilTax, a suite of free tax services from the Department of Defense designed exclusively for our military community. MilTax includes easy-to-use tax preparation and e-filing software, personalized support from tax consultants and current information about filing taxes in the military.

Free MilTax Software

MilTax’s tax preparation and e-filing software is available from mid-January to mid-October. It’s easy to use and guaranteed to be 100% accurate.

Start your tax return early.

The tax deadline always seems to come sooner than you expect. Be prepared for tax season so there is no last-minute scramble to find everything, and so you can secure your tax refund early. Before filing, organize your paperwork and establish a specific place for all incoming tax documents, such as W-2 forms, as they arrive in the new year. You may need to track down others. You’ll also need Social Security numbers, birth dates and other information for everyone included in the return.

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Access free tax filing services.

Free MilTax preparation and e-filing software is available from mid-January through mid-October. Powered by an industry-leading tax service provider, it’s designed to address situations specific to the military. You will need a Military OneSource account and an additional account with the software provider to get started filing and to take advantage of this free benefit you earned with your service. Remember to return to Military OneSource, not the software provider’s website when you access the software in the future.

Military OneSource MilTax also offers free tax consultations to eligible service members and their families. Have a question or need help starting your tax return? MilTax consultants are specially trained to help with tax situations specific to service members and their families so you can receive your tax refund sooner. Call 800-342-9647 or live chat 24/7 to schedule an appointment with a MilTax consultant.

You can also get in-person support at a Volunteer Income Tax Support Assistance office location. The VITA program, provided by the Internal Revenue Service, provides coordinators for the Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force and Coast Guard. These specialists are trained to address military-specific tax issues like combat-zone benefits and applying Earned Income Credit guidelines. They oversee the operation of military tax programs worldwide and serve as the main IRS outreach for military personnel and their families.

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Educate yourself on tax extensions.

Filing taxes after the official deadline is common, but there are important things to understand. For starters, you must file Form 4868 before the tax deadline. MilTax consultants can help make your tax – or extension – filing easy.

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Maximize your tax refund.

A tax refund isn’t free money, even if it feels that way. You worked hard to earn it, so put it to good use to help secure your financial future. Pay down your highest-interest credit card debt, build up an emergency fund, donate to a charitable organization or invest in yourself by using your refund for a certification class.

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Preparing for tax season can be stressful. Get peace of mind by creating a plan and using Military OneSource MilTax. Get started now.