Military Life Cycle | Your Life in the Military
Higher Education Is Costly: Military Service Can Keep it Affordable
The cost of higher education and the thought of taking on student debt can be overwhelming. Perhaps you don’t think college is right for you now and want to wait. The military has options to make education affordable – whenever you choose to attend.
Explore Your Base and Beyond with MilitaryINSTALLATIONS
You’re going to PCS or you’ve just arrived. Want to learn about activities on base? Schools in the community? Check-in procedures? Child care? A veterinarian for your pet? Or other useful information?
Which GI Bill Is Best for You?
The Department of Veterans Affairs has several programs that can cover the cost of education and training, housing fees and more. Review the benefits of each program and find out which one works best for you.
Staying Financially Fit With Financial Assistance, Counseling and Resources
Your service member doesn’t have to face financial hardship alone. Free information, resources and counseling are available.
Career Coaching for Military Spouses
Deciding on a career or finding a job isn’t easy when your family moves every few years. The military spouse in your life can get help through free career coaching from the Department of Defense.
Life Insurance for Veterans
Life insurance is one of those things we tend to avoid. But as a service member, you’re automatically provided life insurance.
Supporting Your New Recruit’s Preparation for Basic Training or Boot Camp
Getting in shape for basic training starts at home. Find out how you can help your new recruit start off with strength and stamina.
Four Steps to Buying a Car as a Service Member
Buying a car is a major purchase. There’s a lot to know – from sticker prices to auto loans to warranties. Avoid getting ripped off or buying more car than you need.
Department of Defense and Military Identification Cards
One of the most valuable assets to service members is their military ID. The Department of Defense issues distinct identification cards to uniformed service members, their family members and other eligible individuals to serve as proof of the cardholder's identity and Department of Defense affiliation.
10 Tips to Take to Basic Training
Basic training varies by service branch, but it’ll help you to know these facts of military life before you report for duty. Own these 10 bits of advice from people who have been there.
A Look Into Joining the Military’s Elite Forces in the Army, Marine Corps, Navy and Air Force
U.S. service members already serve their country as part of one of the finest fighting forces the world has ever seen. Some special operations units have even higher standards than the general force.
Military Pay 101: Basic Pay, Allowances and S&I Pay
As an active-duty service member, you receive many benefits and entitlements like free access to Military OneSource services and support. One of the primary benefits to working in the military is a steady paycheck and tax-free allowances. Here’s a summary of the different military pay elements you might see on your monthly Leave and Earnings Statement.
Military Leave: What It Is and How It Works
As part of the military pay and benefits package, military service members earn 30 days of paid leave per year. You start at zero and for every month of military service, 2.5 days of leave get added to your leave account. It doesn’t stop, but the most you can carry over from one fiscal year to the next fiscal year is 60 days, except in certain, very limited situations where you can carry over more.
This Memorial Day: Honor Heroes and Make Meaningful Connections With Your Service Member
Whether your service member is near or far, you can mark the day together in ways that are particularly meaningful to you.
Returning From Deployment: Helping Your Family Transition
Armed with the right information and understanding, reuniting with your family after a deployment can go more smoothly for everyone. Educate yourself on what to expect upon reintegration, and be patient with yourself, your spouse and your kids. Don't be afraid to ask for help. Follow these eight tips to ease your adjustment.
Credentialing Your Military Experience
You're looking to join the civilian world and that means job-hunting. Here's the good news: As a service member, you're part of one of the best-trained workforces in the world.
CAC and Military IDs for Dependents, Retirees and Others
The military issues standard identification cards to active duty, reserve and National Guard members, retired service members, civilian employees, some contractors, family members of eligible sponsors and other eligible individuals. In addition to providing verification of identity and affiliation to the Department, military ID cards also verify eligibility for access to those benefits identified on the card.
What to Expect During Military Funeral Honors
The Military Funeral Honors Program establishes procedures for requesting and providing Military Funeral Honors. Such honors consist of traditions intended to express deep gratitude for those who have served our nation.
When Your Guard or Reserve Service Member is Called to Active Duty
Your spouse or partner is preparing for deployment and transitioning from reserve status to active duty. Take advantage of several deployment support programs.
Learn the Warning Signs of ‘Military Scams’
Your military friend or family member serves our country with integrity and honor. Unfortunately, there are scammers out there who try to take advantage of that service to cheat them and you. You can help protect your service member against military scams by learning the warning signs of schemes that target those in the military community.
Financial Protections for Your Service Member
If your service member ever gets into financial trouble, it can impact their military career. For this reason, there are two major laws – the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act and the Military Lending Act -- that help protect the finances and ease the stress of active-duty service members and their families.
Are You Financially Fit? How to Make Financial Wellness Happen
They say money can't buy happiness, but a financially-healthy future can buy peace of mind. Plus, financial security at home allows service members to be more focused and mission-ready.
VA Benefits for Disabled Veterans and Service Members
The Department of Veterans Affairs provides benefits and services to meet the needs of veterans and service members. While many VA programs are designed to serve veterans, particularly disabled veterans, VA services are not limited to those who have left the military.
Make a Home Accessible With Department of Veterans Affairs Programs
If you're disabled, it is important to feel comfortable at home. Depending on your unique needs, modifications can make a big difference in your accessibility at home.
Frequently Asked Questions About Military Funeral Honors
The Military Funeral Honors program includes several key elements that your casualty assistance officer or Military Funeral Honors coordinator can guide you through. In addition, here are some frequently asked questions and answers to navigating the traditional process.
Veterans Affairs Benefits for National Guard and Reserve Members
Guard and reserve members are entitled to benefits and services offered by the Department of Veterans Affairs, just like their active-duty counterparts. The VA can help Guard and reserve members cover the cost of school, secure a home loan or acquire life insurance.
Programs That Hire Veterans
Many organizations in the civilian world value your experience, skills, work ethic and training as a service member. Here are ways to connect with employers committed to hiring veterans.
Military Insignia: What Are Those Stripes and Bars?
The stripes and bars on a military uniform signify rank. If you’re new to the military, you know enough to understand that rank matters.
Thrift Savings Plan Options: Making Your Retirement Dollars Work for You
It’s never too early to start saving for retirement. The best way to get started is the Thrift Savings Plan, a retirement savings plan for federal employees and members of the uniformed services that gives you two ways to sock away some cash.
Deployment Basics By Service Branch
The deployment cycle is the period of time from the notification of a deployment, through pre-deployment training, through the deployment, and immediately after deployment. Every deployment cycle is different, but here are some general things to know.
Creating New Holiday Traditions When Your Service Member Is Away
Holidays can feel very different when your service member is away. There are traditions that you’d like to share with them or wish they could participate in. But there are things you can do to help yourself – and your service member – make the holidays special, whether they are stationed far from home or deployed. Sharing old traditions and creating new ones can keep the holidays fun and meaningful, and help you stay connected.
Understanding Common Military Traditions and Customs
Traditions are important as they can bind loved ones or groups of people together. The military is built on traditions, customs and manners, and as a result its members share a common experience. As a family member or friend of a service member, it can be valuable to learn about those traditions and customs your loved one participates in as a part the military community.
National Guard and Reserves Reintegration
You’re coming home after a deployment. It’s been a long time coming and you deserve to celebrate. But it’s important to know what other adjustments you might face post-deployment.
Cancelled or Postponed Deployment: Time for Contingency Planning
Gearing up for a deployment can be stressful. But getting those orders cancelled or postponed can be more so, especially after spending weeks, even months, preparing yourself for the mission—and your family for the changes.
Navy Boot Camp and Officer Candidate School: What to Expect
Navy Boot Camp is the first step in turning you into a sailor with all the skills to perform in the fleet. If you're on the Navy officer path, you'll attend a 13-week course to prepare for an officer's responsibilities. Know what to expect and arrive ready for Navy training.
Marine Corps Boot Camp and Officer Candidates School: What to Expect
Marine Corps Basic Recruit Training is the first step in preparing you mentally and physically to serve. The second step is the School of Infantry, where you'll develop core skills for service.
Air Force Basic Training: What to Expect
When joining the Air Force you can choose one of two paths, either enlist or get a commission as an officer. If you enlist, your first stop will be Air Force Basic Training, eight-and-a-half weeks of physical preparation to serve, before you move onto more technical training. If you take the officer path, you’ll go to Officer Training School, the U.S. Air Force Academy or Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps.
What to Pack for Basic Training
You'll need to take only a few basic things when you head off to basic training - everything else will be provided for you. Your recruiter will give you a list of what you must take and what you definitely shouldn't pack.
Army Basic Training: What to Expect
Basic training is the first step in preparing you to be a soldier. It starts with basic combat training or Army boot camp. Then comes specialized training in your career field — or you may go to Officer Candidate School to master Army leadership skills.
Life After Basic Army Combat Training
Following your Army basic combat training, you’ll take one of two paths, advanced individual training or Officer Candidate School to advance in your military career.
Managing Your Money as a New Service Member
You're learning a lot of new skills in the military, and money management should be one of them. As a service member, you may earn more, get special duty pay or have new expenses. It's your money. Make the most of it by creating a financial plan. Staying on top of your finances is important for your security clearance, your career and your future.
Sending a Military Care Package: What You Need to Know
Military care packages deliver a welcome piece of home to your service member while they’re away – whether that’s your child, fiancé, sibling or friend. They help both of you stay connected despite distance or duty. Here are some appropriate ways to send those care packages to your service member throughout their time in the military.
The New Army Combat Fitness Test
Starting October 2020, all soldiers will be required to pass the new Army Combat Fitness Test, which will replace the Army Physical Fitness Test. You will be expected to meet ACFT requirements regardless of age or gender, as part of your military training.
Seven Signs You May Need Extra Help Transitioning to Civilian Life – And Where to Get It
Are you separating or retiring from the service in the near future? Are you actively transitioning to civilian life? With so many components of transition, you may feel like you could use some extra help. Maybe you’re looking for support to manage stress or logistics. Or perhaps you just need someone to give you that extra encouragement to set goals to get through your to-do list.
New to the Military? Get Answers to Common Military Uniform Questions
Thinking about joining the military? Perhaps you’ve already signed up and are waiting to head to boot camp, or someone close to you has joined the military. Some of the common questions among new recruits and their loved ones relate to military uniforms.
Beyond Military Pay: Your Service Member’s Robust Military Benefits Package
As a member of your service member’s support network, you may have heard the good news that both active duty and reserve military personnel received a 3.1% military pay raise in 2020 – among the biggest in a decade. Beyond the salary bump, you’ll be glad to know that your loved one has several ways to be financially fit.
Housing for Your New Service Member: Living in the Barracks
During basic training and initial job training, all enlisted service members are required to live in the barracks. When service members move to their permanent duty station, only single members are required to live in unaccompanied housing, or barracks.
Understanding a Military Power of Attorney: A Primer for Families
At some point in their military career, your service member may ask if you can help them with certain personal business that can be hard to handle if they have limited communications or access to technology.
Military Funeral Honors – The Essentials
Military Funeral Honors provides a final tribute to eligible veterans and a meaningful ceremony to their families. Military OneSource provides information to help you navigate the process to arrange Military Funeral Honors.
Military Funeral Honors Eligibility
Military Funeral Honors are provided to recognize the sacrifice and contributions of our nation’s veterans.
Military Retirement: Do You Have This Covered?
Transitioning to civilian life is just like everything else in military life. Doing it successfully takes preparation.
How to Write a Civilian Resume
Your resume is a summary of your background and experience, and it's likely to be the first information about you that an employer will see. These tips will help you make a resume that stands out.
Transition Assistance Programs and Resources
The military has an extensive array of services to help make your separation a success. If you're an active-duty service member, National Guard and Reserve Component service member, or service member's spouse, you can take advantage of these transition assistance resources and more.
Your Leave and Earnings Statement
Your monthly Leave and Earnings Statement, or LES, is one of the most important financial documents you have for mastering your money and achieving your financial goals. Here's how to decipher the code.
Is Your Next Step Joining the Reserves? Get the Basics.
More than one in four active duty service members tell us they intend to join the reserves. It can be a great option for lots of service members.
Stress Management During Deployment
In the military, stress happens. But too much stress can have negative effects on performance, safety and well-being. During deployment, it is especially important to know the signs of stress and to be ready with good stress management techniques.
How to Create a Family Care Plan for Caregivers
Whether it's a deployment or training, sometimes our military careers take us away from loved ones and we leave them in the care of others. A family care plan is designed to guide caregivers, providing the important details about child care, school, medical care and family activities.
Military Clause: Terminate Your Lease Due to Deployment or PCS
Service members are protected by the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act if they need to break their lease on account of a deployment or permanent change of station.
Securing the Home Front: Deployment Paperwork Prep
Life in the military is about being ready for deployment. You may be duty-ready, but don’t overlook preparations on the home front. That includes having or updating essential legal documents. Don’t let it slip off your radar before deployment. Do it for your family’s sake.
10 Reasons Why the Military Is a Great Career Choice
When your loved one decides to join the military, they’re taking an important step toward a great career path. As a parent, relative or significant other of someone who has joined the military – or is considering doing so – rest assured that there are many career and personal opportunities available to them.
Read This: Must-Dos for Separating
You've made the decision. Now it's time to make the most of it. There's a list of tasks to accomplish, and most of them come with a due date.
MilTax: Free Tax Return Filing Help for Your Service Member
If your service member has recently entered the military, you may now lose the ability to claim them as a dependent. On top of that, this may be the first time your loved one has ever had to file a tax return.
Deciding Where to Live When You Leave the Military
The day will come when you're preparing to get out of the military. You might have spent many an hour already thinking about where you want to live when you get out. Now it's time to get practical.
Deductions, Allotments and What Comes Out of Your Military Pay
Like a coin, there are two sides of your military paycheck. There’s what goes into your paycheck – basic pay, allowances and special and incentive pays – and there is what comes out. You can see your deductions and allotments listed on your Leave and Earnings Statement, or LES. Here are some of the more common items you’ll see listed on your LES.
Plan My Deployment: A Must-Have Tool for Deploying and Coming Home
Whether you're on your first tour of duty or your fourth, Plan My Deployment helps you, your family members and loved ones prepare for – and stay strong and connected – through every phase of deployment.
Safe Driving Tips at Home After Combat Duty
The driving habits that kept you safe in a war zone can endanger you and others now that you're home. Reduce the risk of injury to yourself and others by retraining yourself to drive in normal conditions.
9 Tips for Reintegration After Deployment
Your deployment is over and now you are returning home. Next, it's time to reconnect with your family and friends and return to your "normal" life.
Your Career Path: Finding the Right Job
What kind of job are you looking for when you leave the military? Most people look for location, salary and job stability. But there's much more to finding great jobs for veterans.
How the Military Helps Pay for College and Job Training
The military is an honorable way for patriotic men and women to both serve their country and pursue a career. When it comes to education and career benefits, the military takes care of service members during, and after, their service. Of course, the military itself can be a rewarding career choice. But if they decide to move on, service members can access many tools, resources and benefits to successfully transition into civilian careers.
Resources for Understanding Suicide Prevention in the Military
Service members put their life on the line to protect our country. But serious risks may lurk in everyday life for some with intense trainings or as the pace of military life suddenly gets faster and for prolonged periods. And that can be even harder and more confusing to deal with as a loved one.
How Your Service Member Will Benefit from the Military’s New Blended Retirement System
The military recently adopted a new retirement plan called the Blended Retirement System which extends benefits to a lot more service members than the old plan. The good news: the BRS can put your service member on the path to long-term financial security. And, the more a service member contributes to their own retirement, the more the Department of Defense matches it.
Overview of Veterans Affairs Benefits
You served. Now let the Department of Veterans Affairs serve you by helping you live life to the fullest.
Support and Resources Through the Commissary and Exchange
You may already know that shopping for groceries at the commissary or for electronics at the exchange can amount to significant savings. But you may not know that these stores also offer additional perks like contest prizes, scholarships and family employment opportunities, all while supporting your war-fighter overseas. Check out our listings below for benefits you may not have heard about.
Veterans Affairs Benefits for Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation New Dawn Transitioning Service Members
Active-duty, Guard or reserve service members returning from Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation New Dawn deserve a smooth transition back to civilian life.