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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Becoming the “Seasoned” Spouse

Many months ago I read this post from They Call me Dependent. It reminds the readers of what life was like when we were the new spouse. That the first anything was traumatic and that others’ reactions, particularly those seeming to have a good time, couldn’t be right. But more importantly it reminded me that we’ve all been there and as time goes we learn and change and cope. And around that time I also realized that I was becoming that seasoned spouse.

It only took me about two and a half years but I think I’ve become a seasoned spouse. Or at least I’m feeling more seasoned. It really hit me at a unit event a few weeks later talking to some new spouses. There were so many things that came up that I remember worrying about like crazy just a year ago and now…well not so much. And it was hard for me to articulate that it wasn’t something to spend all their time worrying about.

Do I still worry about our life in the Army, James when he’s gone, and what lies ahead? Yes. Do I still learn new things every day? Yep. But it all feels different. I feel different about all of the things the Army throws my way then I did even a year ago.

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12 deployment tips for every couple

A reader wrote in asking for tips to make it through a deployment when you aren’t married and/or the unit doesn’t have a strong (or any sort of) support group, such as an FRG.

While I was lucky and have been a part of great FRGs where I made great friends, each FRG is different, and it may not provide the support you need or want. And that’s okay.

I’ve reached out to a few of my friends who have been through trainings and deployments alike in both these scenarios to get their best tips. I’ve also compiled some general tips to help get through anytime apart, with or without official channels in place, and with or without a marriage certificate.

More Than A military spouse
I dabbled in Pinterest projects during deployment – including making pinata cookies. Photo by Jessica 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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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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The Reorganization of the Army + End of DOMA

First off apologies for my lack of posts. It’s been a busy few weeks and now that we are in garrison life – life seems pretty normal with not a lot worthy of blogging about happening. Let me know if you’re interested in guest blogging or if you have something you’re dying to know!

Now onto the post. Last week a whole heck of a lot of excitement happened in the political and policy worlds. The biggest being that the Army announced a HUGE reorganization plan and the Supreme Court ruled that the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) was unconstitutional, and that a lower court ruling stood that California’s Prop 8 was done-zo. Let’s break down what this all means for us Army families: Continue reading “The Reorganization of the Army + End of DOMA”

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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Oh the FRG

There are good and bad stories about FRGs. I was nervous to join ours at our first duty station, mainly because I just hoped I would like the other ladies and make friends, and fortunately my first experience was fantastic. From our Battalion Commander and Sgt. Major’s wives on down we had a welcome and opening support network. The other spouses are funny, honest, and down to earth. And I count some of them as my best friends. I served as a POC (Point of Contact) for nearly a year for about 12 spouses in our company, as well as helped out at a number of social events, and attended memorials. I got really involved in our FRG and throughout the way I saw and heard a ton of stories, and learned a lot. At one point my friend joked that I was an FRG Leader in Training since I was such good friends with all of our FRG leaders. It really just happened that way but it was funny. Of course the FRG wasn’t perfect, and there were days when I got frustrated, but here’s what I have learned about successful FRGs and what I think they should be, during a deployment or not:

A sign our FRG had made for our homecoming ceremonies after deployment.
A sign our FRG had made for our homecoming ceremonies after deployment. Photo by Jessica Hall

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On Same Sex Marriage and Spouses Clubs

Last month I was sad to hear that the Fort Bragg Officers’ Club denied membership to a spouse because she is married to a service member of the same sex. As a member of our Spouses’ Club, it really upset me because to me the club is really a place to build community and meet new people, make friends, support your local base. Being new to an area can be nervewracking, you don’t know where things are, you may not know many people, so a club like this is a great place to start making those connections and learning about your new base. So why deny someone that wants to be a part of that?

The whole situation needs some crisis communication help, but it seems that the reasoning behind the denial is that the spouse doesn’t have a Dependent ID, since even though “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” is no longer in effect, gay and straight service members work in the same units alongside one another, DOMA (Defense of Marriage Act) still is in effect, basically meaning same-sex married spouses are not able to have benefits, even something as simple as an ID card that gives access to base.

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