FAQs for Military
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Q. Who can I call when my family is having hardships?
A. Each branch of the military has an organization to provide military relief when needed.
- Air Force Aid Society: assists airmen and their families. The society offers loans and grants. For help call 800-769-8951
- Army Emergency Relief (AER): assists soldiers and their families. It has 82 locations worldwide. For help call 866-878-6378
- Coast Guard Mutual Assistance: serves members of the Coast Guard and their families. For help call 703-872-6716
- Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society: assists members of the Navy and Marine Corps.4 For help call 703-696-4904
Military families can also apply for help through other groups. The American Red Cross offers funds for certain emergency expenses. Military families can get help by calling the American Red Cross Emergency Communications Center at (877) 272-7337 (toll-free). Emergency relief organization information is also available through the National Resource Directory
Q. What do these groups provide?
A. These groups provide financial aid as loans or grants to eligible service members and families for a variety of reasons including:
- Basic living expenses
- Emergency travel expenses
- Medical and dental expenses
- Housing expenses (i.e.,. rent, mortgage payments, utilities)
In addition, depending on the organization, you may also be eligible to receive financial assistance for expenses including:
- Non-receipt of pay
- Debt management
- Disaster response
- Education assistance
Q. Who do I call if I have concerns about my child?
A. If you need moral support or a ―listening ear‖ about parenting, you may want to contact
- A friend (especially one who has teenagers)
- A relative
- Someone from a community organization (such as your church, book club, etc.)
- If you want to gather more information about a specific issue, you can
- Check out a book at the library
- Look online at the helpful websites in our resource list
- Ask your pediatrician for information on the topic
- Talk to your child’s teachers, coaches, or extracurricular leaders
- Other helpful resources include your
- Pediatrician or child’s doctor
- Nurse line
- Teen’s teachers or school counselor
- Mental health professional
- Department of Human Services
- Community/county health department
Q. What Is Important for Me To Know When Addressing Parenting Issues?
A. At this time, the VA healthcare system is not set up to provide individual counseling, testing, or medication management for children. When you discuss parenting issues with your Veterans, you may become aware of child-related issues, so it’s important to familiarize yourself with community resources. For example, you may want to explore (and/or talk to a psychologist or social worker about):
- Parenting hotlines
- Referrals to mental health professionals that specialize in working with children
- Parenting support groups and classes
Importantly, you may also learn of issues of child abuse/neglect in these discussions. Please check your state laws (e.g., Call your local reporting hotline or check websites, such as: http://www.childwelfare.gov/systemwide/laws_policies/state/ to determine your reporting responsibilities. In most states, you can call the state reporting hotline and propose a “hypothetical” scenario if you’re unsure if the issue needs to be reported. Remember that your job as a mental health professional is to make a report if you SUSPECT abuse/neglect. Your job is NOT to investigate or determine if abuse has occurred.
Veteran Parenting Toolkit Together building Strong Families: Provider Guide; S. Central Mental Illness Research, Education and Clinical Center 2010
Q. What are the emotional phases of deployment?
A. Pre-Deployment Phase (6-8 weeks prior to deployment). Feelings in this stage may include fear, anger, denial, resentment, excitement, and guilt. Common thoughts include "What will I do without him/her?" "I can't believe he/she is actually leaving me!" "How in the world will I cope with the kids?" and "I wish the ship would leave so I could get on with my life!" Reactions during this phase may vary between "honeymoon" like behavior to severe arguments.
Deployment Phase (during the deployment). Feelings in this stage may include relief, anxiety, enthusiasm, pride, and sense of abandonment. Thoughts associated with these feelings include "Now I can get on with my life!" "He left me...he actually left me!" "What if something happens that I can't handle?" and "I'm handling things so much better than I thought I would!". Reactions during this phase may include a change in schedule (eating and sleeping habits), intense busyness, establishing routine, and being independent.
Reunion Phase (1-6 weeks prior to reunion). Feelings in this stage may include anxiety, excitement, guilt, fear, and elation. Thoughts associated with this phase may include "Oh no, I didn't accomplish everything I needed to!" "Hey, I'm managing just fine without him/her!" "I can't wait to see him/her!" or "I wonder if he/she still loves me". All of these feelings and thoughts are normal. Reactions during this phase may include home improvement (cleaning, decorating, etc.) and increased focus on personal appearance (new hairstyle, shopping for a new outfit or lingerie, etc.).
Post-Deployment Phase (1-6 weeks post reunion). Feelings in this stage may include euphoria, resentment, and role confusion. Although this is an exciting and happy time for most couples, it is often the most difficult period they face. The service member may feel displaced and no longer needed in the day-to-day functioning of the family. The spouse may feel resentful when the service member attempts to take charge of an activity (finances, discipline, and parenting). While they are reestablishing intimacy, they are also renegotiating their relationship and redefining roles.
Each of you will react to separation differently. Intensity of feelings vary, and normal ups and downs will occur regularly during separation. If you are having problems coping with the separation or feel overwhelmed, there are both civilian and military resources than can be of assistance to you.
Q. What information should know to prepare for deployment?
A. 1. Finances and legal matters -- check. Be sure everything is taken care of before the service member departs.
2. Use military support services. You're not alone -- there are many official and unofficial sources of aid and assistance.
3. Safety and emergencies. Be sure to plan ahead for worst-case scenarios.
4. Out of sight, not out of mind. In this technologically advanced age, it's easier than ever to keep in touch with your service member.
5. All in the family. Separation is tough on all family members -- face the challenges together.
Plan Ahead: Don't wait for a crisis to prepare for an emergency. Prior to deployment, discuss how to handle situations as they arrive: car trouble, home maintenance, financial matters, and family emergencies. Discuss what constitutes an emergency and what funds are available to support possible costs. Collect and keep readily available all of the phone numbers for emergency assistance in your community. You will also need to have available the phone number for the point of contact in the rear detachment as well as the American Red Cross.
Emergencies: If an emergency does occur that requires contacting the service member, you will need to contact the unit's rear detachment immediately. In the event of a death or serious illness of a close family member, you will also need to contact the American Red Cross who will verify the emergency and contact the member's unit. Be prepared to share with the American Red Cross the full name of the family member, relationship, health care provider and/or hospital.
If an emergency occurs with the service member during mobilization or deployment, immediate family members will be notified via the military chain of command, the American Red Cross, or a unit chaplain. If you hear about an accident or illness through the grapevine, immediately check with one these sources and they will gladly verify the accuracy (or inaccuracy!) of the information.
Develop a Support System: Being married to a Reservist often means you are living far away from your family without the social or emotional support they offer. If possible, meet with other family members from the unit prior to and plan to meet throughout the period of family separation. Families will be able to lend emotional support to one another and provide assistance with children and emergencies. Don't wait for a crisis to determine who might be able to help you.
Q. What are some ideas can I use to help family cope with deployment?
A. Listed below are some ideas that may help:
- Maintain routines
- Stay calm and in-control
- Talk with your kids. Listen to their concerns
- Monitor media exposure to war and terrorism
- Teach appropriate emotional expression. Remind children to use their words when expressing their feelings rather than acting out those feelings.
Q. What are some ideas to help my family before a deployment?
A. Listed below are some ideas that may help:
- Inform your children about the deployment. Develop a plan with the at-home caregiver about when and how you want to tell your child this news. Hold regular family meeting to discuss the deployment.
- Reassure your child about safety concerns. School age kids in particular worry about safety
- Kids have a job too! While you are away emphasize that your child's job is to do well in school, help out at home and be cooperative.
- Create a discipline plan together
- Make a communication plan
- Create a support system for the at-home caretaker
- Create support systems for your children
- Create "comfort" objects
- Tell the school or daycare
- Make sure to say "good-bye"
Q. What are some ideas can I use to help family cope during deployment?
A. Listed below are some ideas that may help:
- Maintain routines and traditions. Keep regular schedules for meals, bedtimes, school pick up, etc. Celebrate holidays and special occasions just as you did before the deployment. Go on vacations.
- Spend time with your kids
- Be consistent with discipline. Follow the discipline plan that the family created before the deployment.
- Encourage participation in extra-curricular activities
- Keep your children informed
- As the at-home caregiver, take care of yourself. Don't be afraid to ask for help and when help is offered, consider accepting. Ask extended family or friends to help out with a specific task.
- Help children stay connected to the deployed parent.
Q. What are some ideas to help with my homecoming?
A. Listed below are some ideas that may help.
- Allow your children time to warm up to you. Infants or toddlers may pull away, cry or act afraid of you, so anticipate that they will need time to get used to you again.
- Talk about your deployment with your children
- Expect changes at home. Remember change is inevitable. Expect to see these changes in your children, spouse, and even yourself. Don't expect things to return exactly to how they were before your deployment. Avoid making drastic changes to the new routines and rules. Adolescents especially will be reluctant to give up the responsibilities and independence they've accumulated in your absence. Sit down and talk about options with them. Allow your spouse to be the disciplinarian as you settle back into family life and get reacquainted with your children
- Getting Reacquainted. With children under a year old it's important to hold them, bathe them, and change their diapers — all great opportunities for your child to learn the look and feel of you. With school-aged kids and teenagers, look through pictures together of times you missed while deployed. Ask for details and listen to their stories. Get involved in their daily activities — great conversations can happen while you're driving your child to school, practice or an extracurricular activity.
- Get involved in your child's education. Your interest in your child's education sends a powerful message that you care about them and value their education. Go by the school and meet a few teachers or coaches. Set up a parent-teacher conference to go over how your child is performing in their classes.
Q. How can our family stay connect with my loved one when they are deployed?
A. Here are a few ways:
- The parent who is away can read a bedtime story out loud to your child over a video-conferencing tool like Skype or Google+.
- Send emails of baby pictures to your service member.
- Send your service member a package filled with items that remind him or her of your child, like a blanket, pictures or handprints.
- Record your service member’s voice reading children's books or sharing a message. You can play this for your children whenever you want to remind them of the parent who is
Q. What are some of the “Red Flags” I may see in my child/children when my family member/spouse deploys?
A. Below are some issues you may see in your children depending on their age:
- Extensive crying — being unable to be soothed or calmed
- Considerable changes in sleep or eating patterns
- For toddlers, a high level of aggression (i.e. hurting toys, pets, other children, caregivers, themselves)
- Significant developmental delays or losing skills they had previously mastered
- Significant and prolonged change in child's clinginess or ability to calm down
- Considerable changes in sleep or eating patterns
- High levels of aggression (i.e. hurting toys, pets, other children, caregivers, themselves)
- Significant developmental delays or losing skills your child had previously mastered
- High levels of aggression (hurting others, themselves, pets or toys)
- Significant and continued changes in sleeping and eating patterns
- Refusing to go to school or participate in typical activities
- Difficulty calming down or coping with daily problems or routine issues
- Major changes to school grades or friendships
- High level of aggression or violence toward people, pets or property
- Any mention of suicide or harming oneself
- Total withdrawal from the family or running away
- Considerable and prolonged drop in grades
- Considerable and continued changes in mood, eating or sleeping patterns
Military Kids Connect http://militarykidsconnect.t2.health.mil/parents/coping/behaviors
Q. What are some ideas for sending a loved one or service member while they are away or deployed?
A. Listed below are some ideas:
Food and drink
- Powdered drink mix. Your service member will appreciate anything that can be mixed with water. In cold months, send hot beverage mixes such as cocoa, instant coffee, tea bags, and creamer. During warmer months, sweetened drink mixes such as lemonade and iced tea will be welcome.
- Meal enhancers. Anything that can be mixed with MREs (Meals Ready to Eat), such as ramen noodles, seasoned salt, individual packets of hot sauce, mustard, relish, and ketchup.
- Quick protein. Energy bars, tuna fish, sardines, non-perishable beef jerky, or beef summer sausage. Make sure the meat is labeled USDA Beef.
- Snacks. Look for small, hard containers of chips, pretzels, and nuts. These are easier to carry than large containers. Avoid bags, which may burst under high pressure. If you do send large bags or containers, include small zipper-lock bags so your service member can pack smaller amounts of snacks to carry. Snack cakes, cheese crackers, and cookies are in high demand. Salty snacks are good for those deployed in the desert, especially in the summer months, because they will encourage your service member to drink more water.
- Candy and gum. Avoid chocolate if your service member is in a warm climate. It will melt in the heat. Gum and other types of candy may soften and become gooey, so send these in plastic zipper-lock bags. Send plenty of extras for your service member to share, especially if he or she comes into contact with children.
Personal care and clothing
Choose small, travel-size containers of personal care products, and avoid aerosol cans. To keep liquids from spilling, cover the opening of the container with plastic wrap, then recap before shipping.
- Toiletries. Toothbrush, toothpaste, dental floss, cotton swabs, shaving lotion, disposable razors, shampoo, individually packaged tissues.
- Personal care. Individually packaged baby wipes, eye drops, lip balm, lotion, aspirin or other pain reliever, feminine hygiene products for women.
- Foot care. Moleskin, medicated foot powder, athlete's-foot ointment.2 l What to Send Someone Who is Deployed
- Disposable hand warmers. Send these during the winter if your service member is in a cold climate.
- Goggle-style sunglasses. Your service member will appreciate these if he or she is deployed in the desert.
- Cotton socks and underwear. Make sure the garments are made of 100 percent cotton rather than a cotton blend.
- Fingerless gloves, stocking caps, long underwear, if the climate is cold.
Entertainment and communication
- Reading material. Paperback books, current magazines, comic books.
- Word games and puzzles. Crossword puzzles, word searches, jigsaw puzzles.
- Games. Foam footballs and basketballs, Frisbees, Hacky Sacks, playing cards, yo-yos.
- Electronics. Portable DVD player, CD player, DVDs, CDs, handheld electronic games.
- Batteries. Size AA and D batteries are in high demand. If you're sending a battery-operated device, such as a CD player, remove the batteries so the appliance doesn't accidentally turn on during shipment.
- Disposable camera.
- Writing material. Notepaper, envelopes, pens, pencils, and stamps.
- Phone cards. Shop around to get the best deal on overseas minutes.
Reminders of home
In every care package, be sure to include a personal note or other special reminder of home. Photographs, drawings, and videotapes of your activities at home will be comforting to your service member. Here are some more ideas:
- Your children's art projects or schoolwork.
- A small scrapbook filled with mementos from home.
- A homemade cassette tape or CD of your service member's favorite songs.
- The Sunday comics from your local newspaper.
- Homemade goodies, such as cookies or brownies. Just be sure to pack these in an airtight container.
Q. What are some items I should not send?
A. Listed below are some items that would not be good to send:
There may be items you cannot send, depending on where your service member is located. If your service member is in the Middle East or Persian Gulf areas, you should not send anything that would offend people of the Islamic faith, including pork or pork by-products, obscene material, religious materials contrary to Islam, anything depicting nude or semi-nude persons, pornographic or sexual items, alcohol, or nonauthorized political materials. Check with your Key Volunteer, Ombudsman, or command family support group point of contact for details on further restrictions.
If your service member needs the essentials but you want to save your care packages for special items, you can purchase a gift certificate to the exchange. The program, Gifts from the Homefront, allows you to buy your service member a gift certificate good at any military exchange in the world.
Q. What is DEERS?
A. DEERS is a computerized database of military sponsors, families and others worldwide who are entitled under the law to TRICARE benefits. Active-duty and retired service members are automatically registered in DEERS, but they must take action to register their family members and ensure they're correctly entered into the database. Mistakes in the DEERS database can cause problems with TRICARE claims, so it is critical to maintain your DEERS information. You can verify your DEERS information by contacting your regional TRICARE managed care support contractor, your local TRICARE service center or the nearest uniformed services personnel office (ID card facility). Sponsors or registered family members may make address changes, however, only the sponsor can add or delete a family member from DEERS, and proper documents are required such as a marriage certificate, divorce decree and/or birth certificate. To update your DEERS information:
- Visit your local uniformed services personnel office or contact the Defense Manpower Data Center Support Office (DSO) at 1-800-538-9552. You can find the nearest uniformed services personnel office at: http.
- Fax address changes to DEERS at 1-831-655-8317.
- Mail the address change to the Defense Manpower Data Center Support Office, ATTN: COA, 400 Gigling Road, Seaside, CA 93955-6771.
- Go online to Tricare to update your information: http.
- Each family member's eligibility record must be updated separately when changes occur.
- Any changes that impact you or your family (e.g., marriage, birth, divorce, death) need to be reported to DEERS so that eligibility can start or stop under DoD and Service guidance.
- If you are active duty and re-enlist, separate, retire, or move, make sure your information gets updated in DEERS as soon as possible. If you do not, you and your family might experience a break in eligibility, which means a break in health care coverage.
- As soon as you re-enlist, take your reenlistment paper to your personnel support center or ID card facility so your information can be updated before your previous enlistment expires rather than waiting for the paperwork to go through distribution.
- Once you retire, you need to make sure DEERS reflects your change from active duty to retiree status.
- Note: If you or your family were previously TRICARE Prime under your active duty status, you need to re-enroll in TRICARE Prime under your retiree status. Contact the regional managed care support contractor (MCSC) in your retirement location to find out if TRICARE Prime is offered in your retirement area ZIP code.
- It is important to update your and your family's home addresses because TRICARE Program information will be sent to that address.
- Retail network pharmacies check TRICARE eligibility through DEERS. Your prescriptions will be filled only if you are in the system.
- If you have a child that is over age 21 and a full-time student, you need to get his or her student status entered into DEERS so that TRICARE eligibility is not interrupted and access to health care is not lost.
- If you or a family member is Medicare-eligible, entitled to Part A and enrolled in Part B, DEERS must be updated to reflect MEDICARE Part A and B status to retain TRICARE coverage. When you turn 65, the medical section of your military ID card may also need to be updated.
Q. What is Special Monthly Compensation (SMC)?
A. Special Monthly Compensation (SMC) is a monetary compensation (paid in addition to the regular VA Disability Compensation) to a veteran who, as a result of military service, incurred the loss or loss of use of specific organs or extremities. Loss, or loss of use, is described as either an amputation or, having no effective remaining function of an extremity or organ. The disabilities VA can consider for SMC include:
- loss, or loss of use, of a hand or foot
- immobility of a joint or paralysis
- loss of sight of an eye (having only light perception)
- loss, or loss of use, of a reproductive organ
- complete loss, or loss of use, of both buttocks
- deafness of both ears (having absence of air and bone conduction)
- inability to communicate by speech (complete organic aphonia)
- loss of a percentage of tissue from a single breast, or both breasts, from mastectomy or radiation treatment
The VA will pay higher rates for combinations of these disabilities such as loss or loss of use of the feet, legs, hands, and arms, in specific monetary increments, based on the particular combination of the disabilities. There are also higher payments for various combinations of severe deafness with bilateral blindness. Additional SMC is available if a veteran is service connected for paraplegia, with complete loss of bowel and bladder control.
In addition, if you have other service-connected disabilities that, in combination with the above special monthly compensation, meet certain criteria, a higher amount of SMC can also be considered.
Q. How do I apply for Special Monthly Compensation (SMC)?
A. You should contact your local VA regional office at 1-800-827-1000, for information about applying for SMC. In determining qualifications for SMC, the VA must review the medical evidence regarding the loss or loss of use and then make a decision regarding the level of SMC to be paid.
Q. What is Veterans Disability Pay?
A. If you are military veteran with a service-related disability you may qualify for over $3,100 in monthly benefits. These benefits are paid to veterans who have injuries or diseases that happened while on active duty, or were made worse by active military service. It is also paid to certain veterans disabled from VA health care. These benefits are tax-free.
Q. What are the eligibility requirements for Veterans Disability Pay and how do I apply for benefits?
A. You may be eligible for Disability Compensation if you have a service-related disability and you were discharged under other than dishonorable conditions. The amount of basic benefit paid ranges from $127 to over $3,100 per month, depending on your level of disability and number of dependents.
- Note: You may be paid additional amounts if:
- you have very severe disabilities or loss of limb(s)
- you have a spouse, child(ren), or dependent parent(s)
- you have a seriously disabled spouse
- You can apply by filling out VA Form 21-526, Veterans Application for Compensation Or Pension. If you have any of the following material, attach it to your application:
- Dependency records (marriage & children's birth certificates)
- Medical evidence (doctor & hospital reports)
- You can also apply on line through the VONAPP website.
- For More Information Call Toll-Free 1-800-827-1000.
Q. What is TRICARE? What are my benefits and how do I enroll?
A. TRICARE is a health benefit program for all seven uniformed services: the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, Coast Guard, Public Health Service, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. To use TRICARE, you must be listed in DEERS as being eligible for military health care benefits. If you don’t find answers to your eligibility questions in this section, check with your military service personnel office for specific information.
- TRICARE-eligible persons include the following:
- Active duty service members
Note: Active duty service members and activated National Guard or Reserve Members must enroll in one of the TRICARE Prime options:
- TRICARE Prime
- TRICARE Prime Remote
- TRICARE Prime Overseas
- TRICARE Global Remote Overseas
- Spouses and unmarried children of active duty service members
- Uniformed service retirees, their spouses, and unmarried children
- Medal of Honor (MOH) recipients and/or their families.
- Un-remarried former spouse and unmarried children of active duty or retired service members who have died Note: Family members of active duty service members who died while on active duty, and who were on active duty for at least 31 days before death, will continue to be treated as active duty family members for TRICARE cost-sharing purposes for 3 years after their active duty sponsor dies.
- Spouses and unmarried children of reservists and National Guard who are ordered to active duty for more than 30 consecutive days (they are covered only during the reservist's active duty tour) or of reservists and National Guard who die on active duty.
- Spouses and unmarried children of reservists and National Guard who die as a result of a line of duty condition may be eligible for health care.
- Persons who have received the MOH, and their family members, who are not otherwise TRICARE eligible. These persons will be able to obtain health care benefits under TRICARE in the same manner as if they were entitled to retired pay.
- Unmarried children up to age 21 (including stepchildren who are adopted by the sponsor) are still covered by TRICARE even if the spouse gets divorced or remarried. But in the case of a stepchild who was not adopted by the sponsor and the marriage ends in divorce, the stepchild loses eligibility on the date the divorce decree is final. It should be emphasized that stepchildren don ?t have to be adopted by the sponsor to be covered by TRICARE while the sponsor and the mother or father of the stepchildren remains married. A child aged 21 or over may be covered if he or she is severely disabled and the condition existed prior to the child's 21st birthday or, if the condition occurred between the ages of 21 and 23 while the child was enrolled in a full-time course of study in an approved institution of higher learning and is, or was at the time of the sponsor's death, dependent on the sponsor for more than one-half of his or her support. A child may also be covered up to the 23rd birthday if he or she is in school full-time.
- Children placed in the custody of a service member or former member, by a court of law; or by a recognized adoption agency in anticipation of legal adoption by the member. TRICARE eligibility is effective July 1, 1994, if a court of law places the child. A child placed by a recognized adoption agency is eligible effective October 5, 1994.
- Children of current or former service members or their spouses born out of wedlock may be eligible for TRICARE benefits under certain conditions. Check with your Beneficiary Counseling and Assistance Coordinator (BCAC)/Health Benefits Adviser (HBA), or TRICARE Service Center (TSC).
- Certain family members of active duty service members who were court-martialed and separated for spouse or child abuse. The victims of the abuse within the family are eligible for health benefits for the period that the abused family member is receiving "transitional compensation" under Section 1059 of Title 10, U.S. Code. Cost sharing will be the same as for other active duty families.
- Certain abused spouses, former spouses, and dependent children of service members who were eligible for retirement, but had that eligibility taken away as a result of abuse of the spouse or child. This benefit is effective for medically necessary services and supplies provided under TRICARE Standard (CHAMPUS) on or after October 23, 1992.
- Spouses and children of North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and "Partners for Peace" (PFP) nation representatives who are officially accompanying the NATO or PFP nation representatives while stationed in, or passing through, the United States on official business. These family members are eligible for outpatient benefits only (including ambulatory surgery). They are not listed in the DEERS files, and should check with a BCAC/HBA/TSC for assistance before getting care or filing claims. (NATO and PFP family members cannot enroll in TRICARE Prime.)
- Former spouses of active, retired or former military members may be eligible for TRICARE if they meet the following requirements:
- Must not have remarried. (If remarried, the loss of benefits remains applicable even if the remarriage ends in death or divorce.)
- Must not be covered by an employer-sponsored health plan.
- Must not be the former spouse of a North Atlantic Treaty Organization or Partners for Peace nation member.
- Must meet the requirements of one (not all) of the following three situations:
Q. What is the Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP)?
A. The Survivor Benefit Plan has two parts: active duty coverage and retirement coverage. It is similar to life insurance in that it pays a cash benefit to eligible survivors, as long as they remain eligible. Provided the beneficiary does not lose their eligibility, they may continue to receive SBP payments for the length of their life. Coverage is automatic and free while on active duty, but it requires a decision at retirement and retirees pay a premium each month to continue their SBP coverage. While not free after retirement, it is quite inexpensive compared to similar policies available on the commercial market. Annuity payments from SBP are taxable to the recipient.
When a military retiree dies their retirement pay stops. This means that the surviving spouse will be left without a substantial income source. If you are a retiree you need to give serious thought to how you can protect your spouse from the hardships caused by the loss of your retirement pay.
One option available to you is the Survivor Benefit Plan. The SBP is an insurance plan that will pay your surviving spouse a monthly payment (annuity) to help make up for the loss of your retirement income. The plan is designed to protect your survivors against the risks of:
- Your early death;
- Your survivor outliving the benefits; and
Participants in the Uniformed Services Survivor Benefit Plan for retired military members now have a new milestone to mark on their calendars.
Effective October 1, 2008, SBP participants who reach 70 years of age and have made 360 payments (30 years), will no longer have to pay premiums for continued SBP coverage and will be placed in "Paid-up SBP" status.
Q: What types of information can I expect to receive from a Military OneSource adoption consultant?
A: Military OneSource consultants will offer assistance with beginning the adoption process, locating military-related financial assistance and identifying agencies that can help you with your specific adoption needs. Consultants will also provide callers with adoption agency information, support groups and general literature on adoption.
Q: Who is eligible for adoption consultations?
A: Military OneSource adoption consultations are available to active duty, National Guard and reserve service members (regardless of activation status) and their families.
Q: Does the military offer adoption reimbursement to families?
A: Yes, eligible service members can receive up to $2,000 per adopted child and up to $5,000 per calendar year.
Military Kids Connect http://militarykidsconnect.t2.health.mil/parents/coping/behaviors
Department of Veterans Affairs
 This article was written with the help of Air Force TSgt. Nathan Covington I, Family Readiness NCO, 97 Mission Support Squadron, Family Support Center; the Family Support Center Staff, Goodfellow AFB; and Kim Gates, HQMC, MCFTB Program Section Head.