It’s been over a month since same-sex spouses could register in the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System (DEERS) and receive a brand-new military family member ID and all the benefits it encompasses.
We have heard of the overwhelming welcome that these just-recognized military spouses have received. We have also heard of their pride in their new-found recognition as a military spouse.
In case you haven’t heard, once a spouse is enrolled in DEERS, he or she is eligible for the whole array of military benefits.
The most important benefits to most service members and their spouses are:
- Military Family Member Identification Card
- TRICARE health care coverage
- Dependent-rate housing allowance
- Eligibility for the family separation allowance
- Ability to move off base to live with a spouse
- Command-sponsored visas
- Access to military installations and facilities, including: commissaries, exchanges, and Morale, Welfare and Recreation (MWR) centers; Family Center programs
- Joint Duty Assignments
- Access to legal assistance
The spouses of service members may also invoke the protections of the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA), which provides certain protections from civil actions against service members who are called to active duty.
While military affiliated same-sex married couples are protected under Federal law, there are some states that don’t recognize same-sex marriage and may create stumbling blocks in accessing state benefits or services.
A recent example includes the refusal of National Guard armories in Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, and Mississippi to issue military ID cards to same-sex spouses because same-sex marriages are illegal in those states.
You should also check on other state legal requirements such as those associated with adopting biological children, or limitations to joint home-ownership. There may also be problems with accompanied assignments to countries where homosexuality is illegal.
New military spouses – welcome! Consider this your symbolic swat with the saber. And know that we are here to provide you and your military family the same helpful information and resources that we have been offering to all military families for more than 40 years.