Tips and Tricks for Managing Your Tricare Benefits

So I have to say that one of my favorite benefits of this military life is the medical insurance aka Tricare. Care aside, because that varies by provider, it’s an absolutely amazing deal as an active duty family. Most companies charge far more for family members to be covered by insurance than we do as an Army family (we only pay for dental and that’s a very low price), so it’s a great benefit! But it can be tricky to manage aka what makes it not so great as the dependent. I have had some ups and downs with Tricare and I wanted to share what I’ve learned in these few years in hopes that it can help you!

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Surviving 2 PCS moves in one year

Well last year was…fun. And again, sorry for the lack of posts, again life got crazy. Or maybe I love Netflix too much. I was doing some freelance work too though! And we moved…again. Yes, we moved twice in one year. I learned so much on these two moves that I really want to share with you some tips for success – and dealing with not-so-great outcomes (let’s just say move #2 did not go smoothly).

Us embarking on PCS #1 in 2015 with a packed car. Photo by J. Hall.
Us embarking on PCS #1 in 2015 with a packed car. Photo by J. Hall.

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The Emotional Rollercoaster of Field Training

Field training arrived again and man was I not excited. But it is what it is, it’s an necessary evil of Army life. So began what I thought would be 29 days apart, but it was more challenging than I expected. But there was fun thrown in!

More Than a Military Spouse
Pumpkin carving party with my friends resulted in these gorgeous creations (mine is the Boo! one in the middle). Photo by Jessica Hall.

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Dear Congress, WTF?

As I typed this on Thursday night, and edited on Saturday, we are approaching a week of government shutdown. Currently it is day 5. This all started when the House did not pass a matching spending bill as the Senate. The big stink was all about delaying the individual mandate in the Affordable Care Act aka Obamacare (yes they are one in the same) and basically undo the law in general. It’s such a BIG deal to the Republicans that they refused to pass a bill without it attached. And now there appears to be far less compromise as the week goes on, and more finger pointing, on all sides.

Most government websites look a lot like this.
Most government websites look a lot like this.

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Oh Field Training

It is FTX (field training) season meaning that units are gone for days or weeks at a time. Our time came last week and honestly I took it harder than I thought I would. James was only gone for a week but the day before he left and the first day he was gone were hard for me. Who would have thought?

I wasn’t expecting to be upset because well, I got through 8 months of deployment. 8 months of being apart, of dealing with everything on my own, etc. So a week? No problem. Until I realized the morning before he left that I wouldn’t really see him – between work and my night class that day meant when I got home we’d go right to bed. And in the morning he’d wake up at the crack of dawn to go for the week.

I know, I sound a bit dramatic. And that’s not my favorite thing to do, but anytime apart can be hard. I missed the little things, like: watching Parks & Rec after dinner (we’re almost caught up with the current season), laughing together, cooking up something delicious, and just hanging out. I also realized that I needed to deal with the lawn. Aka learning to use our lawn mower.

But it’s work so what can I do? Nothing. Continue moving forward with life. Continue reading “Oh Field Training”

Military Monday: Are spouses entitled to salutes, extra pay?

There have been some crazy articles in the Military Spouse world lately asking for benefits that I have NEVER EVER heard of. And they are sounding like crazy people so let’s break them down (and apologies in advance but I rant a bit):

An officer’s wife wrote into a Navy publication upset that she/her car were no longer being saluted at her duty station when she drove on post. Personally I’ve never experienced this when I’m in the car by myself. When my husband is driving us onto post he is saluted, but salute a wife? I didn’t even think this was a thing. Apparently it is…kinda.

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On Ketchup-Gate

I know Thursdays is usually reserved for food and drink posts but I’m making a slight exception. I mean this is about ketchup…but it’s mainly military.

Some of you may have heard about Ketchup-Gate, it’s on about every military spouse related website out there. It was named by NextGen Mil Spouses after this article from the Washington Post about how commissaries are a huge part of defense spending and basically how some are trying to eliminate them. It focuses on the apparently 12 varieties of Ketchup at the grocery store. But there have been others, like this one from HuffPo which cost some uproar in March.

KetchupThere have been lots of responses to these, but the most recent and a great argument is from Amy Bushatz on SpouseBuzz with her open letter to those that are so vocal about the “lavish” benefits military families are entitled to, from pay to on-post grocery stores. After reading the whole article from Washington Post – I can say that I think looking for a better financial model for the commissaries is a good idea but fully eliminating them would not go over so well. Let me share a story:

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Living the Garrison Life

Apologies for the lack of military-esque posts lately. To be honest I’ve been a bit busy. But also, since James isn’t in school or deployed I have realized that we are living the garrison life. One that includes training at times but just feels like a “normal” life, since he is home around dinner time and on weekends. In some ways it just seems like what life would be like if we weren’t military, except his days start wayyyyy earlier than most work places thanks to PT. We’re each busy with work, me with school, and both of us with keeping up with our friends. But let’s see if I can explain what life is like stateside.

Living the Garrison Life More Than A Military Spouse
Us on a hike recently. Photo by Jessica Hall

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Returning to West Point, on the cheap

Recently the opportunity came up for my husband to speak at his alma mater, West Point, to cadets about his experience being deployed to Afghanistan. The panel, a part of a class that all seniors aka Firsties take, featured 4 other Officers who worked together while deployed. What was really cool about this trip was that I got to tag along. While he was on travel orders, we were able to extend his over the weekend so we could stay and see friends and family. And the best part? We paid for one plane trip! Mine. (And food/hotels for our extension obviously.)

The hubs speaking to cadets! Photo by Jessica Hall (via smartphone sorry for the not so awesome quality)
The hubs speaking to cadets! Photo by Jessica Hall (via smartphone sorry for the not so awesome quality)

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The First Army Family Goodbyes

My husband switched battalions last month and I am finding it a bit sad, even though we haven’t PCS’d, we just switched buildings basically. But I find it really sad in some ways. I grew very close to the other spouses of our first unit. James was on a trip to West Point when we should have been farewell’d from the unit, so we did it a month later, and I’ll be farewell’d at the next Coffee Group, after totally crashing last month (!). And while most of my friends are still around JBLM like we are, there are no more FRG meetings or events with them. Sure we will all still hang out but it’s hard to cut that cord. I can’t just hang around and crash their events (although I really want to). It’s just not my place. And to make it worse others are PCS’ing or leaving in the coming year, one has already left!

With ladies from our first unit (+ some other excellent friends) at my birthday party. Photo by Bethany Lackie.
With ladies from our first unit (+ some other excellent friends that I’ve met here in WA) at my birthday party. Photo by Bethany Lackie.

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