A Safe Space for Relationship Help: The Family Advocacy Program

Young woman thinking

It’s important to know where you can go for safe, judgment-free help when you are feeling unsafe in your relationship. Caring assistance is available through the Family Advocacy Program.

Everyone who experiences domestic abuse has a unique set of circumstances and concerns. Through your installation’s Family Advocacy Program, you can meet with a victim advocate with a deep understanding about the challenges of seeking help for domestic abuse. The role of a victim advocate is to be there for you, to hear you and to offer help and resources.

Find Support Today

Take care of yourself today by talking with a victim advocate, who can show you options you might not be aware of and provide the support you are seeking.

You’ll talk, we’ll listen

When you call (or visit) your Family Advocacy Program to reach a victim advocate, they will welcome you in.

Connect with a victim advocate through your local FAP office. You can decide how much of your story to share in the first conversation.

When you call to speak with a victim advocate, they will want to know if you are in a safe place to talk, and can discuss ways for you to maintain your safety as you seek information and support for your situation.

To help, your advocate will need to know what you’ve experienced. They will listen to you without judgment to find out what you have been through and what you want to happen going forward.

It may be difficult to talk about what you’ve experienced, but it will allow you to voice concerns about your relationship in a safe space. It may help to start by explaining a recent event or by talking about your experiences in a timeline of your relationship.

You have options, and we’ll explain them

The Family Advocacy Program offers victim-centered and victim-led assistance. Translation? Your victim advocate will never pressure you to make a decision you are uncomfortable with. You are in charge of your life and your choices.

You don’t have to be experiencing a crisis to meet with a victim advocate — they can support you regardless of what stage you are at in your relationship. It is never too early to reach out to a victim advocate to ask questions and learn what help is available.

Make sure to tell your advocate what steps you’re ready to take, so they can provide informed support. By understanding your specific situation, your victim advocate will get a better idea of how they can help. They will explain the options you have for reporting and support, after which you can choose what is best for you and your family.

If you decide to report domestic abuse, there are two military reporting options: restricted and unrestricted. Your victim advocate can explain these options in specific detail according to your situation. They can walk you through what each option would look like for you and your family to help you understand the difference and decide what works best for you.

You choose your path, we’ll provide the resources

Victims of domestic abuse come from different family situations and have different experiences and needs. Some may choose to stay in the relationship and try to work things out. Others may choose to leave the relationship. Whatever path you choose, your FAP victim advocate will provide you with the support you need.

Develop a relationship with your victim advocate

Remember that when you connect with your victim advocate, it doesn’t have to be a one-time conversation. They are there as long as you need them to help you find safety, support and healing. Through the Family Advocacy Program, your advocate will work with you to:

  • Promote your safety, well-being and choices
  • Access appropriate treatment for you and other affected family members
  • Identify and build on your and your family’s strengths
  • Increase protective factors to help reduce your risk of future abuse
  • Connect with civilian resources and domestic violence programs

Specifically, your FAP advocate can facilitate connections for you to receive assistance for things like finding immediate lodging, medical care, legal counsel, a job or a new home.

As you continue to meet with your victim advocate, ask them questions you may have forgotten about on your first visit. Let them know your concerns and fears so they can address those, too. Your advocate can work with you to create a plan for your future.

Think of talking to your victim advocate as you would talking to a friend, only a friend who is removed from your situation and who has expertise in your area of need.

If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic abuse, contact the Family Advocacy Program to learn about your options and the resources available to you. You can also contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline. If you or someone you know is in immediate danger, call 911.

Read This: Must-Dos for Separating

Soldier saluting

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:

A Full Year of Support

As you transition into civilian life, you and your family have full access to Military OneSource for 365 days after separation or retirement.

Overseas? See OCONUS calling options. Prefer to live chat? Start now.

  • DO get your plans in place. Think about your post-military goals and the income you’ll need. Start researching how your military experience could translate to a civilian career. Learn about your installation’s Transition Assistance Program available to help you and your family prepare for a successful transition.
  • DO start your Transition Assistance Program early. You must complete a mandatory initial counseling session with a transition counselor and complete pre-separation counseling no less than 365 days prior to your separation or retirement date. During TAP, you’ll also receive briefings from the Department of Defense, the Department of Veterans Affairs, and the Department of Labor. For extra assistance in your transition, check out Military OneSource’s specialty consultation for transitioning veterans. And remember, you can attend TAP more than once!
  • DO schedule a final medical and dental exam. You’ll need a mandatory, final medical and dental exam with your installation’s medical clinic 90 days before you separate.
  • DO schedule the move of your household goods. The earlier, the better. You’ll have one year after leaving active duty to complete your final move. The sooner you can schedule, the better your chances of getting the dates you want.
  • DO talk to your spouse about participating in the Military Spouse Transition Program. This program is designed to guide military spouses through the military to civilian transition.

Finally:

  • DON’T wait until the last minute. Give yourself plenty of time to complete all the tasks required. Many have to be completed 365 days before you separate.

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.

Ambassadors: Voters living in Rome, Tokyo and London can reach out to FVAP voting ambassadors who coordinate in-person and virtual events, including:

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

Working in the Gig Economy: Taxes on Self-Employment

Woman working on a laptop in a cafe

Many military spouses – and even some service members – have started a business or side job in today’s gig economy. Being your own employer means responsibility for additional taxes and tax reporting.

The basics: There are two regular types of taxes paid by persons with self-employment income – regular income taxes (federal, and possibly state) and self-employment tax. Read on to learn more.

Free MilTax Services

MilTax’s tax preparation and e-filing software is available mid-January through mid-October. And MilTax consultants are available year-round to help with tax questions.

Schedule C and tax filing

In most cases, self-employment income and expenses are reported on Schedule C. The net profit, after expenses, of Schedule C income is then reported on your federal tax return. It is the responsibility of the taxpayer to track all sources of income, even if the source does not report it to you or to the IRS.

Self-employment tax

In addition to regular income taxes on your profits, you’ll also be subject to the self-employment tax. The self-employment tax is the Social Security and Medicare tax paid by those who are not employed by someone else. Anyone who has total self-employment income in excess of $400 per year is required to file a Schedule SE and pay self-employment taxes.

State tax filing

Military spouses may report self-employment income just like their regular income, using the state they are permitted to claim for purposes of taxation.

Non-military income of active-duty service members is not protected under the Servicemember’s Civil Relief Act, and service members with income from sources other than the military must file with the state in which the income is earned.

Self-employment can bring tax questions. Military OneSource MilTax offers 100% free online tax preparation and e-filing software, as well as telephone consultations with a tax professional that understands the unique needs of military families. With MilTax, there are no hidden surprises.

Contact a Military OneSource MilTax consultant at 800-342-9647. OCONUS/International? Click here for calling options. Or live chat to schedule a consultation with a MilTax consultant or a financial counselor.

Maintaining Strong Relationships: Virtual Resources Available to Military Couples

Marine couple smiles at one another.

Current as of Oct. 7, 2020

The stress brought on by the coronavirus pandemic presents challenges for everyone and may affect relationships. This can be especially true of intimate partner relationships.

Stress may come from couples spending more time together due to stay-at-home orders. Being separated due to travel restrictions can also cause stress.

It’s normal to go through ups and downs in your relationship. But if you are feeling frustrated or tense, it’s important to know you are not alone. Military OneSource offers a variety of virtual relationship resources that can help.

Take time to see if they are right for you, and share them with others who may benefit from them.

Strengthen your bond with your partner from home

There are a variety of counseling options and tools available to help military couples work through the stress brought on by the pandemic. Take advantage of these resources offered through Military OneSource, Military Community and Family Policy and other supporting organizations:

Tips for couples to manage relationship stress

Military OneSource offers tips for couples to help them cope with the stress and pressure brought on by the pandemic. These include:

  • Come up with a plan to deal with the new normal.
  • Give each other space, which could mean going to a different room, or maybe just wearing earbuds or headphones.
  • Practice good communication, starting by setting aside a time to talk when you aren’t too stressed.
  • Check in with each other by video or phone if you are separated.
  • Find time to be active by building physical activity into your day. Try a personal health and wellness coach or even a mobile coach.
  • Take time to breathe, and remember why you and your partner love each other.

Another factor regarding the stress you may feel in your relationship could be related to the stress the entire family is facing.

Above all else, when stress is high take care of yourself so you’ll be there for your spouse or partner.

If your spouse or partner has made you feel unsafe or afraid, help is available through the Family Advocacy Program. Speak to a victim advocate to explore next steps, or call or chat with the National Domestic Violence Hotline 24/7, at 800-799-7233 or thehotline.org.

Stay up to date on all the latest information on COVID-19. For updates for the military community regarding the virus that causes COVID-19, view the following sites:

Relationship Support for Military Couples

couple looks out over bay

When you are part of a military couple, you and your partner share the pride, benefits and challenges of service. Permanent change of station moves mean you get to experience new parts of the country and world. But these frequent moves can also bring stress. Deployments allow the service member to put their training into practice, but being far from home can be hard on a relationship.

Fortunately, couples counseling and many other free and confidential resources are available to help you and your partner build a relationship that can thrive amid these and other challenges.

Expert help for military couples

Free and confidential non-medical counseling and other programs provide professional support for military couples with relationship concerns.

  • Non-medical counseling. You and your partner don’t have to figure it out on your own. Talk to someone who understands military life and its unique challenges. Non-medical counselors are experienced professionals who are available through:
  • Building Healthy Relationships specialty consultations. These consultations include coaching sessions, practical tools, resources and problem-solving techniques. Consultations are available as specific tracks that focus on the area of your relationship that needs attention. The tracks include:
    • Building Healthy Relationships With Your Significant Other. This track targets the common issues military couples face and provides tools to support a strong relationship.
    • Communication Refreshers. You and your partner will be given the resources to improve the way you communicate.
    • Staying Connected While Away. You and your partner will learn ways to stay close and cope with being apart during deployments and other separations.
    • Reconnecting After Deployment. This track is tailored to the period of reintegration after a deployment.

Building Healthy Relationships specialty consultations are available by phone or video by calling Military OneSource at 800-342-9647.

Virtual resources for military couples

These free tools and resources are available to you and your partner 24/7, on your own schedule.

No relationship is perfect. But with attention and a commitment to one another, you and your partner can build a foundation strong enough to weather any challenge while providing you both with a source of happiness and fulfillment.

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

Hands on keyboard.

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.

Reconnecting With Your Partner at Home

Couple connecting at home

A romantic getaway may seem like the perfect way to reconnect as a couple. But, that’s not always possible – and even if it were, it may not be the answer you’re both hoping for.

A more lasting solution is to look for opportunities to grow closer in your everyday interactions. Practice mutual respect, carve out time for one another, tune in more closely to each other’s needs. These and other simple ways to express love and affection for one another will strengthen your relationship.

Seeing each other’s side and managing your expectations

A first step toward reconnecting with your partner is to open up to each other and to be honest with yourself. As a couple, you can use these insights to forge a deeper connection based on mutual understanding. Here’s where to start:

  • Check your expectations against reality. Examine each other’s ideas of how your relationship should be. Where did those expectations come from? Are they realistic? Accept that no relationship is perfect all the time. Relationships also naturally change and evolve. The romance in its early stages may deepen into a reliable partnership that can be equally fulfilling, if not more. It may be time to update your expectations.
  • Stand in each other’s shoes. It can be truly eye-opening to hear each other’s perspective. It’s important in all relationships, but particularly for military couples when one partner is new to military life. For example, the demands of a service member’s job may make it impossible to have dinner together every night or talk on the phone whenever you want. By listening to each other’s needs and responsibilities, you will develop a greater awareness of and appreciation for each other. You may even be able to come up with creative ways to meet halfway, such as having breakfast together each morning or checking in during a scheduled break.
  • Avoid angrily criticizing each other. This will put each other on the defensive and shut down communication. Instead, name the specific action that bothers you and how it makes you feel. Then work together toward a solution that will work for both of you.

Ways to connect at home

No matter how busy you get, it’s essential that you and your partner make time for each other. Here are ideas for keeping your relationship fresh and meaningful.

  • Describe your perfect date together. Write down or tell each other in great detail what your ideal date would be like, right down to your outfits. Describe the setting, how you will get there and what you will do when you’re there.
  • Have a date night. You probably won’t be able to pull off your fantasy date, but you can aim for the emotional connection it would create. Plan a special night at home if going out is impossible. If you have children, ask a neighbor or friend to watch them for a few hours. Put away your phones, so you can focus on each other. Have a special meal, watch a movie. Dance. Do what makes you both happy.
  • Ask each other 20 questions. It doesn’t have to be 20, but there are probably many things you don’t know about each other. Do you know your partner’s favorite movie? Favorite recording artist? What would each other’s superpower be and why that one? The questions are endless and can open up new insights into one another.
  • Exercise together. Run, bike, hike, lift weights, sign up for an online fitness class together. Encourage each other and have fun together.
  • Go on a walk. Try to fit walks into your regular routine with your partner, even if it means getting up early. If you have young children, bring them along. Walking reduces stress and can lead to great conversations.
  • Take a long drive together. The car is another good setting for conversation. Enjoy the scenery outside your windows while catching up with each other.
  • Share your favorite childhood foods. Incorporate family recipes into your meals or order regional treats online. This is a good way to learn about each other and share an important part of your personal histories.
  • Take a class together. Experience the excitement of learning something new together. If you can’t get out, sign up for an online class. You should be able to find whatever you are interested in online, from cooking or learning a new language, to dance or drawing.

Resources for connecting with your partner

The Department of Defense, through Military OneSource and the Military and Family Life Counseling program, offers resources to help service members and their partners reconnect at home.

  • The Building Healthy Relationships specialty consultation is a free and confidential series of personalized coaching sessions to help you deepen your relationships. The Building Healthy Relationships with Your Significant Other track focuses on issues common to military couples.
  • Non-medical counseling is another option available to couples or individuals. Free and confidential sessions with a Military and Family Life counselor are available on your installation. Military OneSource also offers non-medical counseling.
  • The Love Every Day app is a fun way to practice your relationship communication skills and rekindle your romance.
  • Visit the Re the We page on Military OneSource for access to articles, tools and resources to rekindle, repair or reset your relationship.

Military OneSource is there for you 24/7 to help you and your partner thrive in your relationship. Call 800-342-9647 to connect with a consultant. OCONUS? Use these international calling options.