Current as of Oct. 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:
- Financial counseling. Phone and video counseling sessions are available.
- MilTax services. Service members receive tax prep, e-filing software and personal support.
- Weiss Financial Ratings. Find tools covering a variety of financial topics. Get tips to save for education or buy a home. Focus on retirement planning or learn about insurance. This is available in the Morale, Welfare and Recreation Digital Library.
- Spouse Education and Career Opportunities. SECO provides tools and resources to help military spouses meet their career goals.
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:
- Building Healthy Relationships specialty consultations offer coaching, resources and problem-solving ideas.
- New MilParent specialty consultations can help your service member prepare for a new baby. You can also focus on parenting challenges. These are great for expectant parents and parents with children under 5. Get expert help by video or phone.
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.
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:
- 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.
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.
- The Department of Defense Civilian Retiree Card is for civilians who have retired from any Department of Defense agency.
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:
- Enter the installation at the security gate
- Use Morale, Welfare and Recreation facilities like libraries, swimming pools, golf courses and more, if authorized
- Get TRICARE military health benefits, if authorized
- Shop at any commissary or exchange, if authorized
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:
- 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.
- 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.
Your spouse or partner is preparing for deployment and transitioning from reserve status to active duty. Take advantage of several deployment support programs. They can help you with everything from mobilization to your service member’s reintegration. The following support services are available to assist you during this deployment:
- Command communications
- Military and Family Support Center
- Yellow Ribbon events and family readiness activities
- Military OneSource
- Family Assistance Centers
- Your unit’s family support staff and volunteer network
Your command leadership will provide information to you as efficiently as possible through a unit website, email, a toll-free number and or automated multimedia communication systems.
Military family support websites
The Department of Defense and each branch of the military provides online information for military families, including those in the National Guard and reserves. These websites will tell you about:
- Services such as Military OneSource (specifically the Deployment section), the National Military Family Association, the Office of the Secretary of Defense Reserve Affairs and each of the military branch’s websites
- Points of contact
- Links to additional sources of support and opportunities to interact with other military families, such as the Military Family Readiness System
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.
Yellow Ribbon events and family readiness activities
Military commands typically host Yellow Ribbon events to help families prepare for and stay strong during and after a deployment. The Yellow Ribbon Reintegration Program can:
- Prepare service members and families for deployment
- Sustain them during deployment
- Provide information and support for reintegration
At pre-deployment events, you and your service member will learn about benefits and support, such as:
- Military pay
- Financial readiness
- Family care plans
- Family support through the military
Events during deployment provide information and outreach to family members to help with the impact of separation and connect you with other families going through the deployment. Family and deployment readiness means knowing and using the resources available to you. During a deployment, you may:
- Have financial or legal questions
- Need support for your children
- Have concerns about your emotional well-being
- Want to connect with other military families
After service members return home, Yellow Ribbon activities help families reconnect and readjust. Participate in these activities and get information on:
- Communication challenges
- Relationship stress
- Combat stress
- Department of Veterans Affairs benefits
Ask questions and receive information answers from briefings and group discussions. You’ll also meet unit leaders, family support professionals and volunteers who will be important resources during the deployment. Check out Yellow Ribbon events online and Yellow Ribbon Reintegration Program.
Family Assistance Centers
Family Assistance Centers are located in every state to serve geographically dispersed military families. They provide information, outreach and referrals to services in your community and serve all active and reserves service members and families.
Installation family support programs
Immediate family members of active duty National Guard or reserve members are entitled to use services at military installations. These resources offer a variety of professional support services, and information and referrals to community resources. The centers include:
- Marine Corps Community Services
- Fleet and Family Support Centers
- Airman and Family Readiness Centers
Use MilitaryINSTALLATIONS to find contact information.
Unit family support staff and volunteer network
National Guard and reserve commands have organized family support systems of staff and volunteers, such as:
- Family assistance coordinators
- Family readiness assistants
- Family readiness officers
- Other designated family support specialists
It’s easier to ask for help when you need it if you get to know key staff and volunteers before your service member deploys.
Support for children
There are many forms of support available to National Guard and reserve parents, children and caregivers, including:
- Military Child Care in Your Neighborhood
- Our Military Kids
- National Military Family Association
- Military Child Education Coalition
Use these programs and resources to help your children cope with the emotions that can come with having a deployed parent.
Seek community support
Look for support outside the military community — neighbors, coworkers, school personnel or leaders in your religious organization about any support services they offer or recommend.
Take care of yourself
Don’t forget to take care of yourself during your loved one’s deployment. Remember that family separations and deployment can be an opportunity to nurture your own physical, emotional and spiritual well-being.
Plan for your deployment
Manage the deployment process by knowing as much as you can about your benefits and support resources available. Be proactive about getting support at home before, during and after your partner’s deployment to ensure a positive experience.
You went through weeks learning basic military skills, then months learning your military job. Finally, it’s time to take your place in the military at your first duty station.
When you arrive at your new installation you’ll go through processing. The first place you go is the reception office with a copy of your orders. For example:
- At Fort Hood, head to Copeland Soldiers Service Center.
- At Fort Bragg, go to Reception Company.
- At Joint Base Lewis-McChord, both airmen and soldiers report to Waller Hall.
- At Naval Station Norfolk, Marines and sailors go to the NSN Administration Office at Building N-26.
- At Joint Base San Antonio, all service members and contractors report to the Joint Personnel Processing Center.
After presenting your orders, you may spend the first few weeks learning about the base, meeting key officers and enlisted personnel, discovering where your barracks and the mess hall are, and getting clothing and gear issued. You’ll also figure out the do’s and don’ts of installation life. You’ll be integrated into your unit and your job. As the newbie, ask questions to get to know your role and your coworkers better.
At your first duty station, you’ll have more responsibility and more freedom than you did during training. You’ll serve your country, but you’ll also have time for fun and exploring your new surroundings. Here are six tips for making the most of life at your first duty station.
1. Get to know your installation.
As one solider said, “Don’t live in your barracks.” See what your installation and the surrounding community have to offer. Start with MilitaryINSTALLATIONS. With this tool, you can easily locate your installation and find maps and directions on and off your post. You can also get contact information for programs and services and peruse location overviews and community points of interest.
2. Make friends and have fun.
You’ll probably work and live with the people in your unit until a permanent change of station move or you leave the service. Some of them are likely to become friends, and there will be plenty of opportunities to socialize together.
Your installation’s Morale, Welfare and Recreation program gives you the chance to meet people and make the most of your free time. Some installations offer recreational facilities, all at low or no cost. For off-base fun, Information, Tickets and Travel gives you the scoop on sporting events, museums, theme parks, aquariums, zoos, historical sites and other attractions. And the America the Beautiful pass gives you free access to national parks and recreation areas where you can hike, climb, ski, surf, stargaze or just relax.
3. Pay attention to the “off-limits” list.
On your installation, you may see lists of places or services declared “off limits” by the base commander. These are usually known trouble spots in the neighborhood – think bad landlords, shady nightclubs or lemon car lots. The lists are posted and are also on your base website – like this one from Fort Bragg – so read them and avoid anything on them. Be aware of predatory lenders, payday loan outfits and others looking to scam you outside the installation.
4. Find military discounts on and off your installation.
The service provides for your basic needs, but one of the perks of military life is shopping at installation commissaries and exchanges. Commissaries are like grocery stores and exchanges are like department stores, and both give you tax-free shopping and discount goods and services. Each service branch has its own exchange system, and you’re entitled to shop at any of them, either in person or online.
Your military identification gets you discounts to events, destinations and more off base as well. You can get discounted tickets to many local activities like sporting events, concerts, movies, museums and vacation packages through your installation’s Information, Tickets and Travel office.
5. Enjoy family and friends visits.
If your family, friends or significant other would like to visit you on base, they certainly can. Most installations welcome visitors for events such as deployment homecomings or holiday parties. You’ll find instructions for civilian visitors on your installation’s website.
Some installation recreation facilities – such as bowling alleys and movie theaters – are open to civilian guests if they are accompanied by a service member. You can also show your guests a good time off base – at concerts, amusement parks and sporting events – with discounted tickets from ITT.
6. Check out Military Family Readiness Centers.
Before you dismiss this resource because of its name, understand installation-based Military and Family Support Centers are a resource hub for all service members, whether you’re single or married. They can help you connect the dots on your new installation and surroundings.
The people at these centers can help you with many things like getting a good deal when buying your first car, planning your first PCS, understanding housing options, finding places to socialize and connect to your new community, preparing for deployment, getting personal financial help and more. The centers may go by different names, but they all offer helpful resources for military life issues. Check out MilitaryINSTALLATIONS to locate the center nearest you.