Benefits as a Married Service Member
Those who are in the military certainly grow up fast, and the same is true when it comes to marriage. In fact, over half (56.1%) of those on active duty are married. The Army also has the highest percentage of married members, at almost 60%. Almost 43% of active duty members are 25 or younger and 23% range from 26 to 30 years old, according to the Department of Defense Demographics Report. While military members tend to marry more often, and younger, the average divorce rate for those in the military is only slightly higher than the average U.S. divorce rate overall.
There are quite a few benefits to being married when you are in the military, which might help explain these numbers. For one, service members receive a pay increase as part of their housing and cost-of-living allowances if they get married. Troops receive different pay based on whether they are married or have “dependents.” By adding a dependent under their name in the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System (DEERS), they receive a one-time increase in pay as part of their Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH) entitlement. This extra pay is included in biweekly pay. Similar to a raise, it is meant to cover 95% of housing costs, excluding renters’ insurance. Military members will still receive what they were receiving if this rate is adjusted downward, but they will get more if the rate goes up.
Some service members also receive cost-of-living adjustments, which are also called COLAs. This is different from the BAH entitlement in the sense that it increases with every dependent. Each spouse receives a basic BAH benefit without a dependent. Neither is considered a dependent who would earn the service member an increase, but one of them can claim a higher entitlement by adding a dependent child.
Benefits as a Spouse of a Service Member
In addition to being able to be married to their hero on active duty, there are quite a few benefits that spouses of military members receive as well. For one, healthcare is included. Healthcare is provided for military members as well as their dependents. This is especially helpful for spouses who are working in the home or who work a career that does not provide benefits. The Military and Family Life Counseling Program (MFLC) is also generous enough to provide marriage counseling and family support. Marriage has its benefits, but it is not without its fair share of challenges. Fortunately, the military offers service members and their spouses and children free, non-medical counseling to help navigate this journey together.
Depending on the rank of the service member, the spouse might be able to qualify for Military Spouse Career Advancement Account (MyCAA). MyCAA provides up to $4000 (over two years) of Financial Assistance for military spouses who are continuing their education by pursuing a license, certification, or Associates degree in a portable career field and occupation. Military spouses can also take advantage of discounts at many restaurants and stores that pay respect to military families.
Another benefit that many military spouses are not aware of is the Overseas Cost of Living Allowance (COLA). This non-taxable allowance is designed to offset the higher overseas prices of non-housing related goods and services. If the military spouse is given the chance to travel or to be stationed overseas, these benefits can help make the experience living abroad more pleasurable for the whole family.
As a military family, you are part of a community that is rooting for you and providing a great deal of support. Those who live near a base might feel the benefits of that community more directly in their day-to-day lives, but the support reaches far beyond the base. For example, the firm at Cutter & Lax Attorneys at Law understands the pride service members take in their careers and service to the country, and we are always here to help service members navigate complicated times. Bringing an in-depth knowledge of military law to the table allows us to provide service members and their spouses the legal representation they deserve.
To learn more about military marriage laws, call Cutter & Lax Attorneys at Law at (818) 839-2533 or contact us online.