Military Life Cycle
Confidently navigate life in the military – from basic training to separation and transition and all the steps in between.
Military Promotions: What Friends and Family Should Know
A military promotion is a significant achievement in a service member’s career It’s a testament to their commitment, mastery of duties and skill, and to the service member’s leadership capabilities. Some promotions are more meaningful than others, especially as service members move up in rank.
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.
Veterans Programs, Services and Resources
The Department of Veterans Affairs and other government agencies offer numerous programs and services for veterans, their dependents and survivors. Beyond benefits, these programs and services are helpful.
VA Health Care for Veterans
There are many reasons to sign up for VA Health Care, the first being low- to no-cost, quality health care. Learn more about which health care benefits you qualify for and how to apply.
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.
Help for Veterans
As a service member, you’ve been taught to expect the unexpected. The unexpected can require a little support. As a veteran, you have help at hand. Find out about what kinds of assistance are available to you.
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.
Meeting Military Fitness Standards
Physical fitness is a big part of life in the military. It’s required. Each service member is regularly tested. A Military OneSource Health and Wellness Coach can help you get or stay fit.
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.
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.
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.
Life After Basic 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.
The Savings Deposit Program
If a combat deployment is in your future, be sure to learn about the Savings Deposit Program, a savings account that earns you 10 percent interest. An effective way to collect some savings, the Savings Deposit Program can help you and your family achieve your financial goals.
Military Pay 101: How to Open a Bank Account and an Introduction to TSP
When you’ve received your first Leave and Earnings Statement, or LES, that means you’ve been paid for your service in the Armed Forces. We’ve got some tips on how you can make the most of your basic pay – from the most important parts of your actual pay stub, to picking the right bank account, to even getting a “raise” by increasing your Thrift Savings Plan, or TSP, contributions.
Military Jobs: Your Future Career in the Armed Forces
Enlisting in the military can help you achieve your career goals. In fact, there are even some jobs that you can only do as a service member, like drive a tank or fly a fighter jet. Here’s what you need to know about your future military career.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Re-enlist, Reserves, or Transition? 4 Things to Consider
Maybe you're just ending your first tour of duty. Maybe you've fulfilled your obligation to your country. Now, you're at a crossroads—re-enlist, reserves, transition out? How do you know you're making the right call?
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.
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.
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.
How to Write a 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.
What You Need to Know About Marrying into the Military
If you are marrying a service member, congratulations. You are about to join an elite community of people who have committed to serve their country in a profound and meaningful way.
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.
How to Support Your Service Member Before Deployment
Your service member has just told you that they’ve received “orders to mobilize” – that means they’ll soon be deployed. This is the moment they have trained for since they entered basic training: preparing to serve a greater mission wherever and whenever they are needed.
Common Military Acronyms
Sometimes it feels like the military has a language all its own made entirely of acronyms and abbreviations. And while your service member is probably fluent in this strange tongue, you may need a little help to keep up.
Voting While You’re Away From Home: The Absentee Voting Process
When military life takes you away from home, you and your family can use an absentee ballot and ensure your voices are heard on Election Day.
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.
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.
8 Things You Should Know Before Your Service Member Leaves for Boot Camp
This list can help you - whether you are a parent, sibling, friend, fiancé or extended family member – to get ready before your service member ships off to basic training, or boot camp.
Military Transition to Civilian Life Comes with a Full Year of Support from Military OneSource
Hanging up your uniform and transitioning to civilian life can be both exciting and confusing. It may come with a lot of questions. Have you figured out your civilian career? Found a health care plan yet? Secured a new home base?
Military Retirement: Do You Have This Covered?
Transitioning to civilian life is just like everything else in military life. Doing it successfully takes preparation.
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.
12 Ways to Land That Civilian Job
You've proven your commitment, discipline and resourcefulness in the military world. Now it's time to trade in your experience for a great job. Just like everything, it's all about readiness and attitude. Start early. Be prepared. Go for it.
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.
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.
Four Steps to Put Your Financial House in Order
During deployment, you may be eligible for military pay entitlements, like family separation allowance or combat pay. This is an ideal time to save money or pay off debt. Here are steps to reach your financial goals.
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.
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.
For Veterans: All the Benefits of Home
You saw your share of moving in the military. Now, as a veteran, maybe you're thinking about settling down. Thanks to your service, you've earned good benefits. Here are some other programs to check out.
Make a Plan to Stay in Touch with Your Service Member
Communicating with friends and family is very important for service members; a phone call or care package can help them feel connected, boost spirits and improve focus. However, whether your service member is in boot camp, stationed far away or serving in a combat zone, it can be tough to get ahold of them sometimes.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Leaving Your Children With a Caregiver During Deployment
As a service member, you will benefit from some planning and organization when you leave your child with a caregiver during deployment. The more information everyone has, the better.
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.
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.
Your Deployment Plan for Staying Fiscally Fit
Deployment can impact a household budget. Your pay could change, or you could incur some unexpected expenses. With the right information and a little extra effort, you can stay fiscally fit during deployment and stay in command of your household budget. Follow these tips to achieve financial stability and health even while you're gone.
Get Ready for a Military Homecoming
While reuniting with your family after a deployment is an exciting time, there are a few things you may want to remember...
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.
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.
4 Tips for Transition and Career Success
Making the transition into civilian life is exciting, but does take preparation. Make sure you are well-prepared by following these four tips.
Overview of Veterans Affairs Benefits
You served. Now let the Department of Veterans Affairs serve you by helping you live life to the fullest.
Small Business Administration Veterans Services
If you are retiring from the military and thinking about the next chapter in your life, opening a small business can be an attractive option. The Small Business Administration can help you turn your entrepreneurial dream into a reality, offering programs and information specific to military veterans.
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.
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.
Building Your Federal Resume
A federal government job is often a great transition for military personnel. But a resume for a federal job is different from a civilian resume. It's longer, more detailed and includes specific job-related terminology.
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.
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.
The Department of Veterans Affairs Homeless Prevention Program
The Department of Veterans Affairs has programs specifically to prevent homelessness or provide relief for veterans who are already homeless.
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.
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.
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.
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 12-week course to prepare for an officer's responsibilities. Know what to expect and arrive ready for Navy training.
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.
American Red Cross Support for Military Families
The American Red Cross offers important support to service members, veterans and their families. You'll find the Red Cross in hometowns across America, on military installations around the world and deployed with the armed forces to Afghanistan, Kuwait and Djibouti.
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.
The Department of Veterans Affairs Home Loan Basics
The first step toward owning your own home is meeting with a lender to secure a loan. The Home Loan Program, through the Department of Veterans Affairs, is a substantial benefit you have earned with your military service. These invaluable loans require no down payment, no private mortgage insurance, and negotiable interest rates.
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.
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.