Leaving the Military

What Spouses Need to Know

Daren Reehl

Thanks to budget constraints and postwar downsizing, the military is shedding service members faster than it has in decades. Many qualified, dedicated service members who envisioned a full military career are facing unwelcome, unexpected separation. While transition is a normal part of the military life cycle; many families will be forced to plan for a transition sooner than expected.

Military families are used to uncertainty and to handling whatever the Department of Defense (DoD) throws at them. However, the transition from military to civilian life is different from any other change. It affects every aspect of your family’s life: where you live, what you do, how much you earn, what community you belong to. Almost every military family will encounter some bumps along the road as they go through the transition. Being ready for what lies ahead is key to ensuring your family emerges successfully on the other side – and it’s never too early to start preparing.

If you are a surviving spouse, click here for information designed just for surviving military families.

Preparing for Transition: Financial Planning

As a military family, you probably take for granted that a steady, predictable paycheck will appear in your bank account every two weeks, courtesy of the Department of Defense. One of the scariest parts of transitioning out of the military is the reality that the steady, reliable paycheck is going away. How will you support your family in the short term and what will you need to ensure your family’s financial stability in the long term? The answer is to plan, prepare, and save, save, save.

Big Hug

Thinking Long-Term

Some service members will transition smoothly into civilian versions of the jobs they did in the military. Others will be looking at a career shift. Either way, it’s important to carefully consider your family’s financial needs. Learn More>>

Military Push Ups

An Emotional Toll

One aspect of transitioning that doesn’t get a lot of notice is the emotional toll it can take on both the service member and the family. The service member is leaving a world where they feel very comfortable and “in charge” and heading out into the unknown. Learn More>>

Money and Savings

Short-term Planning

Families should know that it’s not uncommon for service members to spend several months or more seeking a job. Others choose to finish their educations. Months spent job hunting or finishing school might be a strain on your family finances. Learn More>>

Taking Blood Pressure

Health Care

Especially if your family is separating from the military, it makes sense to take advantage of the TRICARE benefit while you still have it! For example, try to schedule your family’s annual physicals and regular well-child checks before you leave the military. Learn More>>

Thinking About Relocation

On top of all the other preparations that go into transitioning out of the military, many military families also find themselves planning a move. The military will provide one final Permanent Change of Station (PCS) move when you retire or separate from the military. There are time and distance restrictions depending on your separation circumstances, but in general you will have between 180 days and one year to relocate to your new home. Weight allowance is the same as PCS moves; however, you will not receive a Dislocation Allowance (DLA) to offset moving costs.

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