Category Archives: Uncategorized

5 Things to Accomplish While Your Spouse is Deployed

Separation from a spouse who is deployed is not easy. Most people suffer from loneliness as the major worry when they separate from their spouses. However, you can take the opportunity to make your family relationships stronger and make some significant steps towards achieving your individual goals while your spouse is away. Here are some things you can accomplish:

Marriage Goals
Absence makes the heart grow fonder, and the time you have away from your spouse offers an opportunity for you to reflect and see how to strengthen your relationship. You may consider taking online classes or reading books on how to improve your marriage by making your spouse happier. Through phone calls or letters, you may let your spouse know about what you have been learning and what you plan to do to maintain a long-distance relationship for a while.

Financial Goals
Just like online courses for marriage, financial courses are also available. Maybe you are looking forward to clearing your debts or getting finances to fund your dream house. Apart from giving you the opportunity of taking financial courses, separation from your spouse also allows you to think about your financial goals and see where you need to improve on. Set a target you want to achieve and commit yourself towards achieving it before your spouse returns home.

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Professional Development
Taking extra projects and classes to develop your career is a good way to stay productive when your spouse is away. It is the best time to ask for more work from your boss to keep yourself busy. This may make your employer feel that you are ready for more responsibilities and thus promote you to a bigger role. Also, taking classes or earning an online degree may be a great way of expanding your horizon and placing you at a better position for bigger roles in your company.

Health Goals
Have you ever thought of running a marathon or going to the gym to lose some weight but have never found time for it? The best time to do so could be while your spouse is away on duty. You have all the time for yourself. Physical activity is a great way of reducing stress and improving health. Write down a fitness goal and share it with your spouse the next time you communicate.

Educational Development
Now is the best time to improve your education. You can decide to update your certifications or take time to go through your kids’ books and see what they do in school. Even subscribing to a podcast or browsing science news websites can enlighten you on new concepts and stimulate you mentally.

Separation from your spouse means more time for yourself. Instead of spending time thinking of how lonely you are, begin thinking of what you can do to improve your life and the lives of your family members. When you are finally reunited after your spouse’s time of duty, you can do so as a person who has grown and developed as much as your spouse has.

Posted by Dixie Somers, military supporter and freelance writer

The Post-9/11 GI Bill: What Can Spouses Actually Use?

I know, I know. Shouldn’t you save the Post-9/11 GI bill for your kids? Or your spouse? I can’t help you get over the guilt of using your service member’s Post-9/11 GI bill (that’s a private convo for you two to have), but I can tell you how the benefit works if you decided to use it.

There is a lot of confusion about what the benefit provides if a service member is using it, or a veteran, or a spouse, or a child. Remember, the rules vary depending on two factors: (1) who is receiving the benefit and (2) the service member’s active duty status when the benefit is being used (i.e. is your service member on active duty or a veteran?).

How Does it Work?

For a spouse to use a transferred benefit a service member must:

  • Have 6 years of service and agree to serve 4 more;
  • Complete a “Transfer of Education” benefit form; and
  • Be on active duty. (There are no exceptions to this rule.)

The benefits a spouse will receive when using a transferred benefit will depend on whether the spouse uses the benefit while a service member is on active duty or in veteran status.

Spouse beneftis table

A spouse can access the benefit while the service member is on active duty for up to 15 years after service member leaves service. Tuition and fees are covered at the in-state tuition rate at public schools, or a maximum cap at private schools. The private school maximum cap is adjusted annual and as of August 1, 2016 is $21,970.46. A spouse is also eligible to receive a $1,000 book stipend prorated based on enrollment. Keep in mind – if you do not attend full time, you won’t receive the entire $1,000 book stipend.

A new law to be aware of is the Choice Act. Under the Choice Act, public schools may only charge in-state tuition and fees (not the out-of-state rate) to a veteran spouse using the benefit within 3 years of service member leaving active duty. While the Choice Act does not apply to active duty spouses, a spouse of an active duty service member can receive in-state tuition where the service member resides or is permanently stationed, regardless of whether they are using the GI bill.

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The housing allowance is for a veteran spouse only. You can’t access this stipend when the service member is on active duty because the service member already receives a basic allowance for housing. The housing rate is paid at an E-5 with dependents rate for your school’s zip code. To receive the full rate, you must attend more than 50% of the time, and in-person. If you attend online the housing allowance is a flat rate of about $800 per month for the 2016 academic year.

The Yellow Ribbon Program is only open to veteran spouses and is used by select private schools. Schools that participate in the Yellow Ribbon Program agree to pay additional funds to help buy-down the cost of tuition at private schools. This means a student receiving Yellow Ribbon funds, would receive funding beyond the annual private school cap. There are several nuances with the Yellow Ribbon Program. Ask early and ask often – there may only be a limited number of Yellow Ribbon spots. Spots vary by school and degree program. For example, a school may only have 5 graduate student spots, but an unlimited number of undergrad Yellow Ribbon seats.

Are you a military spouse or veteran spouse using the Post-9/11 GI Bill? What other tips would you share with families?

katiePosted by Katie Savant, Government Relations Issue Strategist