Voting Becomes Easier for the Mobile Military Life

Vote button over the American Flag.

As a guardian of our nation, you protect the American way of life. The Federal Voting Assistance Program is here to ensure you and your family are able to exercise your right to vote.

About three-quarters of the 1.3 million active-duty service members are eligible to vote absentee because they’re stationed outside of their voting jurisdictions. Thanks to 2009 amendments to the federal Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act (1986), it’s easier for relocated and overseas service members and spouses to register and submit absentee ballots.

Military Absentee Voting Made Simple

No matter where you are, the Federal Post Card Application lets you make sure your vote is counted in a few simple steps.

Today, states are required to send ballots to service members and eligible family members at least 45 days before federal elections and to provide electronic options for voters to receive those ballots. The change boosted the rate of successfully counted absentee ballots sent from service members, from 30% in 2006 to 53% in 2018.

FVAP helps you vote. Wherever you are.

FVAP provides assistance for service members and eligible family members to register to vote, request an absentee ballot and check the status of a ballot for federal offices no matter where they’re located.

Now it’s easier than ever to:

  • Register to vote – whether it’s your first time, you have relocated, or you have separated from the military
  • Request your absentee ballot
  • Vote and submit your absentee ballot

Most states require you to register to vote or request an absentee ballot to start the process. The expanded use of electronic options for sending and receiving federal election materials has made it much easier to vote by absentee ballot. That’s important as two-thirds of military voters are absentee voters.

It’s best to start the absentee voting process early. Here are easy ways to demonstrate your readiness and ensure your vote is cast and counted:

Many states allow you to submit your FPCA electronically, and all states allow for at least one form of electronic transmission to send you a blank ballot. Many states accept the ballot by email or fax, while some states only accept the ballot by mail. Mail delivery times vary based on where you live. If your state requires you to mail your ballot, then you can make sure your vote is counted by mailing your ballot early to allow for extra time.

Since voting materials that are mailed can’t be forwarded, it’s important for you to provide your election office with your new address after every move. Consider sending in a new FPCA every year. Also, federal elections can come up suddenly even during nonelection years. Submitting the FPCA each year helps ensure that you will receive a ballot for all federal elections for which you are eligible.

Voting when transitioning out of the military

If you are transitioning to civilian life, you should notify your election office of your change in voter registration status and update your information, so that you can vote locally in the next election. Depending on whether you are staying in the same voting district after military separation, or if you are moving to a new state or county, there are just one or two easy steps to take, available here: https://www.fvap.gov/military-voter/transition.

More information

When you want to vote – whether you’re entering the military, casting a ballot for the first time, relocating, or transitioning or retiring from the military – and have questions about casting your ballot – your Installation Voter Assistance Office or FVAP have the answers. Go to FVAP.gov or call 1-800-438-VOTE (8683).

Federal Voting Assistance Program resources

Coronavirus disease 2019: Voters can find helpful resources on FVAP.gov, including COVID-19 information and two visual maps that depict how states accept the FPCA or ballot.

Envelopes: Voters can also download postage-paid envelope templates that will allow them to mail back their voting materials free of charge from any military post at a military installation or via diplomatic pouch at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate overseas.

Languages: Voters who prefer to read absentee voting information in Arabic, French or Spanish can find translations of instructions for filling out the FPCA and FWAB.

Installation Voting Assistance Office: Active-duty military and military spouses can find and get help from their IVAO.

Subscribe: Voters can also subscribe to receive voting emails.

Calendars: Voters also have access to voting alerts and calendar reminders for their state.

Social media: Voters can also follow FVAP on social media to tune in to Facebook Live events, absentee voting best practices and more.

Meet the Team Behind Military OneSource’s Call Center

Military OneSource call center professional

As the one source to connect you to your best MilLife, Military OneSource provides both a robust website full of information and a call center with a team of friendly professionals standing ready to assist you with any need you have. We’re here 24 hours a day, 365 days a year by telephone and online to help you with everyday life and your biggest milestones. Watch our brief video to meet this dynamic and qualified team of experts and learn about the range of services offered through Military OneSource.

Contact Military OneSource 24/7.

You can get personalized help 365 days a year by telephone and online.

Overseas? See OCONUS calling options.

Prefer to live chat? Start now.

Non-medical counseling is available to help you thrive

Confidential, non-medical counseling is a popular and proven service among service members and their families. Our counselors know military life, so they understand your challenges and how to help. We provide marriage and relationship counseling, parent and child counseling, sessions to ease deployment adjustment and other kinds of support to help you thrive at work and home. Support is just a call or click away. We provide counseling sessions face-to-face, by phone, online chat or secure live video.

Other popular services

At Military OneSource, we provide specialty consultations and other services to help service members and their families, including:

  • Tax and financial counselors who can help you prepare your taxes or assist with budgets, debt counseling or buying a new home.
  • Health and wellness coaches who support you with your healthy living goals and stress reduction.
  • Our peer support service, which provides opportunities for active-duty, National Guard and reserve members and military spouses to speak with someone who has been there, done that.
  • Relocation assistance to help you master your next PCS.
  • Assistance on elder care, adoption, special needs, education and career goals, relocation and more.

Streaming YouTube is currently blocked from DOD networks.

Who’s Eligible?

All active-duty, National Guard and Reserve Component service members regardless of activation status, recently separated service members, military families and survivors have access to Military OneSource resources anywhere in the world at no cost. Services are available by phone and online. Learn more about eligibility.

Look inside

Learn more about the range of services offered by Military OneSource. Our team of professionals is here to meet your needs. For more information, call Military OneSource at 800-342-9647. Click here for OCONUS calling options.

Military OneSource Live Chat

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Technology is on your side when it comes to getting the information you need. Instead of spending hours online researching articles, check out the live chat feature on the Military OneSource website. You type in your question and receive a quick response with the information you need. Live chat makes the existing Military OneSource services even easier to access.

Easy access

Service and family members can begin live chats on Military OneSource from their computers or on the go from their smart phones or tablet devices. Military OneSource live chat conveniently provides military families with information when and how they want it. Quick and personalized information is available 24/7/365 from a trained Military OneSource consultant.

If your office or house is too noisy for calls, or you don’t feel like speaking with anyone after a full day, live chat is a convenient way for you to discover all that Military OneSource offers.

Contact Military OneSource 24/7

You can get personalized help 365 days a year by telephone and online.

Overseas? See OCONUS calling options.

Prefer to live chat? Start now.

How does online live chat work?

  • Scroll to the top of any Military OneSource page
  • Find the comment bubble icon on top right, and click on it
  • Click Continue
  • Type in your question — it’s as simple as that

Our live chat works just like you’d expect it to. Both you and your Military OneSource consultant can see when the other one is typing, so you will know when the consultant is sending info your way.

Depending on the nature of your question and what services you request or require, the consultant will help in one of the following ways:

  • Provide you with the information you requested
  • Invite you to call the Military OneSource toll-free number at 800-342-9647 for additional services such as specialty consultations
  • Refer you to other appropriate services with a warm hand-off to the other provider

Live chat topics

Live chat provides you with personalized information and resources beyond what you find on the Military OneSource website. A Military OneSource consultant can suggest the best resources for you on topics including:

  • Parenting, adoption and family
  • Single life, marriage or relationships
  • Child care programs and respite care
  • Children or adults with special needs
  • Caregivers and wounded warriors
  • Language interpretation and document translation
  • Deployment, relocation and transitions
  • Morale, Welfare and Recreation
  • Commissaries and exchanges
  • Disaster preparedness

Live chat also gets you quick answers to questions regarding confidential help including the following:

  • Specialty consultations (adoption, education, elder care, health and wellness coaching, peer-to-peer, special needs and wounded warrior)
  • Non-medical counseling (improving relationships at home and work, stress management, adjustment difficulties, parenting, marriage problems, or grief and loss)
  • Interactive tools and services (document translation, financial counseling, free tax service, language interpretation, and Spouse Education and Career Opportunities counseling)

Grab your smart phone or tablet device and let a Military OneSource consultant assist you. Live chat us today.

Military OneSource Virtual Resources Offer Personalized Support and Tools for Overall Well-Being

Military male jogging outside

Current as of October 2, 2020

Military life has great rewards – and some challenges. Deployments, moves and the uncertainty of current travel restrictions are stressful. In times of change, it’s reassuring to have a trusted source of information, resources and support. For service members, that’s Military OneSource — available 24/7 to help service members and their families thrive.

Financial counseling, career guidance and tax help

The coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic has caused global financial worries. Military OneSource offers free financial and career resources including:

Resources for physical, mental and emotional well-being

Military OneSource has tools for service members and families to care for body and mind. A few of the available resources include:

  • Health and wellness coaching can help teens and adults get on track. Start with healthy eating, physical fitness and managing stress.
  • Online tutoring and homework help from Tutor.com. This free service has temporarily expanded. It now covers any adult or child member of a Department of Defense civilian, National Guard and reserve. It also applies to wounded warrior military families. Even adults enrolled in a college or professional development course may be eligible. As always, the service is available to military children in grades K-12. Access Tutor.com through the MWR Digital Library.
  • Chill Drills are audio tracks developed to help service members relax and de-stress.
  • Wellness apps can help your service member regroup and reboot. Learn deep-breathing techniques to relax and unwind. Find personalized tools to handle stress and anxiety during self-care breaks. All apps were developed by the DOD, Veterans Affairs and other partners.
  • Military OneSource non-medical counseling can help with stress management. Counselors work with you to resolve marital and communication issues, parenting skills, grief and more. Military OneSource counselors know military life. They understand your challenges. Sessions are confidential.
  • Video non-medical counseling for children and youth offer children and teenagers tools to develop healthy coping skills to manage life’s stressors.

Personalized support to strengthen relationships

Even the strongest relationship can bend under the pressure of life changes. Learn to deal with deployment, permanent change of station and living through a pandemic. Military OneSource services can strengthen important connections:

Determining eligibility and getting started with Military OneSource virtual support

Military OneSource support is available to active duty, National Guard and reserve, their partners and their children. For eligibility, see Military OneSource Confidential Help Eligibility.

Service members and family members can access services by creating a free account on Military OneSource. They can start a live chat or call 800-342-9647. If outside of the country, use international calling options.

Stay up to date on information to help your service member navigate the coronavirus 2019 pandemic.

In times of change, it’s reassuring to have a trusted source of information, resources and support. For service members, that’s Military OneSource — available 24/7 to help service members and their families thrive.

Dealing with Military Divorce

Man sits on aircraft carrier flight deck

Deciding to end your marriage can feel like the final step on a long journey. But in many ways, divorce is just the beginning of a transition — one you need to manage well for all concerned. Military divorce has special considerations. Learn about them here.

Military lawyers and the legal side of military divorce

Understanding how the process works can help save you time, expense and emotional strain on you and your family. Military lawyers can help. You should know that:

  • State law and local procedures largely govern divorce. Some federal statutes and military regulations may apply, depending on where you file.
  • Free military legal assistance services are available to service members and families through the installation legal assistance office. Services can include:
    • Mediation
    • Separate legal assistance attorneys for the service member and the spouse
    • Advice on legal issues, including divorce and child custody, income taxes, the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act and wills
  • Military lawyers — called judge advocates, or JAGs — also are available to help you and your spouse understand the legal implications of your divorce. To find a military divorce lawyer on an installation near you, visit the Installation Program Directory.

Dealing with the emotional stress of divorce

No doubt about it, divorce is a challenging time. Even if you feel confident in your decision, know what support is available. Military OneSource can offer these resources:

  • Non-medical counseling: Talking to a counselor can help reduce stress and keep you mission-ready. You can access counseling face-to-face, online, by phone or by video chat.
  • Health and wellness coaching: Don’t let your basic health habits slide. Partner with a Military OneSource health and wellness coach. You may even find it healing to take care of yourself.
  • Financial counseling: Finances are likely to play a large role in your divorce. A Military OneSource financial counselor can assist you in getting your finances in order to make the process easier.

Call Military OneSource at 800-342-9647 to learn more about non-medical counseling and other services, and find support for the other members of your family.

Helping your children deal with divorce

Even if your children aren’t showing their struggle outwardly, it’s important to recognize how this change in your family may be affecting them.

You can help your children adjust by supporting their feelings and using the resources available to help your family. Contact the child and youth behavioral military and family life counselors at your installation if your child needs additional support.

Effect of divorce on military benefits

Until your divorce is final, you may retain your identification card and continue to receive your commissary, exchange and health care benefits. Other benefits that will be affected:

  • Installation housing: You will typically lose installation family housing within 30 days of the service member or other family members moving out due to a divorce.
  • Moving costs: The military may pay the moving expenses of the non-military spouse returning home from an overseas duty station. The divorcing parties could negotiate the cost of an in-state move as part of the settlement.
  • Health care benefits: When you lose TRICARE benefits because of divorce, you can buy up to 36 months of temporary health care coverage through the Department of Defense Continued Health Care Benefit program.
  • Eligible children of the service member may receive TRICARE benefits up to age 21 (or age 23 if enrolled in college).
  • Spousal and child support: Each military service has policies requiring service members to support family members upon separation in the absence of an agreement or court order.
    • These policies are designed to be temporary
    • A commander’s authority is limited without a court order.
    • You must send the court order to the Defense Finance and Accounting Service directing the government to pay monies for support or alimony.

Additional military rules and situations regarding divorce

  • The Uniformed Services Former Spouse Protection Act: A federal law that provides former, un-remarried spouses of military members with certain benefits, after a certain number of years of marriage.
  • Divorce overseas: A U.S. court may not recognize a divorce filed overseas, so it’s best to file in the United States. Learn where military divorce laws allow service members and their spouses to file for divorce
  • Abandoned spouses: Abandonment is the act of deliberately leaving one’s spouse without consent (or notification, in many cases) with no intent of returning. If your service member spouse has left you, you are still technically married, have rights and are entitled to support. Contact the legal assistance office at your installation to find out more.

Whether you’re dealing with the legal, emotional or other aspects of divorce, Military OneSource stands ready to help. Call 800-342-9647.

Department of Defense and Military Identification Cards

Man fills out paperwork

The Department of Defense issues identification cards to service members, their family members and others to prove their identity and their connection to the Defense Department. These military ID cards also give you access to military services and programs.

Keep reading to learn about the different types of military ID cards, how to get or replace them and how to use them to access military programs and services.

Have other ID card questions?

Are you a military dependent, retiree, survivor or someone else who is eligible for a military ID card? See our FAQ to find out which ID you’re eligible for, how to renew and other detailed answers.

Overseas? See OCONUS calling options.

Prefer to live chat? Start now.

The CAC and other types of military ID cards

The Department of Defense issues three main types of ID cards:

  • The Common Access Card is the standard ID for active-duty service members, as well as Selected Reserve members, Department of Defense civilian employees and some contractors. The CAC facilitates physical entry to installations and buildings, and logical access to secured computer networks and systems. It also documents your affiliation with the Department for use of military services, programs and benefits for which you may be eligible.
  • The Uniformed Services ID Card is for military family members – including military spouses and dependent children over 10 – retirees and former service members, members of the Individual Ready Reserves and inactive National Guard. Other military community members also are eligible for military benefits because of their affiliation with the Defense Department including former spouses who have not remarried, 100% disabled veterans, eligible foreign military, Transitional Health Care recipients, and other eligible populations as described in DoD policy. This ID lets you use certain military services and programs.

Visit the Department of Defense’s official military ID card website for more information about card types, eligibility, renewal and other services.

How to use programs and services with your military ID card

Your military ID card unlocks more than just buildings and computer systems. It lets you and your family use the military benefits for which you may be eligible. Use your military ID to:

Obtaining and Renewing Military ID and Common Access Cards During COVID-19

Learn about the temporary updates (in place through June 30, 2021) that change issuance and renewal processes.

How to get your military ID card

To get any military ID card – including the CAC, the Uniformed Services ID Card and the Civilian Retiree Card – you must be registered in the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System.

Service members, retirees, DoD civilians and former members have their information fed to DEERS through automated data feeds.

To enroll a dependent or other eligible individual in DEERS, you will need a DD Form 1172-2. You can submit the form through the ID Card Office Online or in person at a RAPIDS site. Use this RAPIDS Site Locator to find a location near you to make an appointment.

You will need to go to a RAPIDS site with your completed DD Form 1172-2 and two forms of identification, including a state or federal government photo ID. Newly married military spouses should bring their marriage certificate. Children under 18 will need proof of relationship to their military sponsor, like a birth certificate, to get their Uniformed Services ID Card. You may require additional documentation depending on your eligibility or circumstances.

After your appointment at the RAPIDS site, you’ll get your first CAC, Uniformed Services ID Card or Civilian Retiree Card.

For more details on how to apply for your first military ID, read this pre-arrival checklist.

How to renew, change or replace your military ID card

If your status changes in some way – you leave active duty, for example, or your card expires in the next 90 days – you’ll need to have your ID reissued. How you renew or change your ID is similar to how you first got it, but with two changes:

  1. Your current, unexpired CAC, Uniformed Services ID Card or Civilian Retiree Card counts as one of the two forms of identification you need to provide.
  2. You can apply to the Department of Defense to renew or replace your military ID online using the ID Card Office Online.

If you lose your ID you can apply for a new one at a RAPIDS site or through the ID Card Office Online. Service members should also report missing CACs to their chain of command.

To renew, change or replace your ID card, your profile in DEERS will need to be up to date. You can check or change your DEERS information online at MilConnect. And, check out this pre-arrival checklist to learn more about renewing your military ID.

How to keep your military ID card safe

If you live or work on an installation, you may find yourself pulling out your military ID card several times a day. Make sure you put your card back into a wallet or badge holder – not into a back pocket or thrown on the dashboard of your car.

If you don’t live near an installation and only use military facilities a couple of times a year, then you may want to keep your military ID in a safe place at home instead of in your wallet. Store it with other important papers, like passports and Social Security cards.

If a local business offers a military discount with proof of affiliation, you may show your military ID card to the cashier, but for security reasons, never let a cashier photocopy your ID or take it from you.

Your ID is an important part of your military life. Keep it updated, safe and ready to use. And remember: If you ever have a question or need a hand – whether it’s about your military ID card or any other part of military life – Military OneSource is here to back you up.