Top 10 Military Life Tips for New MilSpouses


Welcome, new military spouse, to the wide world of government bureaucracy.  We know you’re happy to be here with us on our military base. We love seeing how in love you are. We adore how patriotic you’re feeling.

We want to make sure your excitement isn’t destroyed by how confusing navigating the military system can be. We’ve been around for awhile, and we know some tips and tricks for making it through unscathed. Want to be an expert at navigating the military system? In no particular order, here’s what we know:

Top 10 Military Life Tips for New Military Spouses

1. Know the difference between Tricare Prime and Standard. Which service do you want to use? Which will best fit your needs? By knowing the difference between the two you can make an educated choice. Go here to read all about Tricare Standard and go here to read all about Tricare Prime.

2. They really are going to require you to show your ID card every time you go to the commissary (and many other places on base). I know it seems silly. Do yourself a favor and don’t leave it in the car.

3. FRGs are what you make of them. Getting involved with your unit goes both ways. Since most of the support groups are run by volunteers, show them a little grace. They can’t email you unless they have your email address. Stuff gets lost, copied down incorrectly or sent to your spam folder. Don’t wait for them to ask you to be involved — just dive in.

4. Government employees are cranky. Why? I have no idea. But go the extra mile and have a good attitude anyway. Maybe you’ll leave them in a better mood than you found them in.

5. Make an appointment for everything. Don’t just walk-in for DEERS, CYSS or Tricare registration. Call them and find out if you can make an appointment. You’ll save a lot of time and frustration by doing so.

6. Tip the commissary baggers. I know, no one told about that either when I was first on base. While the amount people tips runs the gamut, from what we can figure from our readers $2 is about minimum and $5 is high.

7. Drama is as drama does. Many complain about drama in the military spouse community. In our experience drama attracts drama. Just do you best to lend a helping hand and be a kind neighbor.

8. Take advantage of resources. The number of classes and programs available to help you navigate military life would blow your mind. Visit your bases’ web page, learn what some of them are and take advantage of them. You will meet some new friends and fill your toolbox with awesome resources at the same time.

9. Get your paperwork in order. Set aside a time with your servicemember to make sure your paperwork is in order. Use this time to make sure your name is everywhere is should be. Does he/she want you on their Servicemember’s Group Life Insurance (SGLI)  paperwork? Do you need a power of attorney for anything? (Hint, yes you do). Are you on their DD-93 (the document used to locate next of kin should the worst happen)? While most deployments have lots of warning, we are supposed to be prepared for them to leave with very little notice. This will give you some peace of mind.

10. Persistence and organization are the keys to opportunity. When it comes to everything from housing lists to getting your kid into that high demand on-base class to scoring free football tickets, navigating military life requires you to be on your game. Keep your ducks in a row and be persistent!

What are your system navigation tips for new military spouses?

About the Author

Amy Bushatz
Amy is the editor in chief of’s spouse and family blog A journalist by trade, Amy also covers spouse and family news for where she is the managing editor of spouse and family content. An Army wife and mother of two, Amy has been featured as a subject matter expert on, NPR, Fox News, NBC, CBS, ABC and BBC as well as in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and Washington Post. Follow her on twitter @amybushatz.
  • Ginny Caballero

    Go see where your spouse works. Say if they are on a ship go on duty days to take him food. I feel the more you know about the environment they are in the better you can understand their frustrations.

  • navywife

    That everything is temporary. Whether you hate or love your duty station, you aren’t going to be there forever so you may as well make the most of it. Learning to be patient and “go with the flow” can save you a lot of heartache, there’s no use getting upset over orders or deployments that you can’t change.

    • Amy_Bushatz

      So, SO true. So so so so so so so true. :-)

  • Tips From The Homefront

    Great list Amy!! I would add be flexible, keep your expectations reasonable and always have plans A,B,C and D!

    • Amy_Bushatz

      And as a planner, I KNOW this is true :-)

  • J Doucette

    Great list, I have to add – It’s all about attitude. Make each move an adventure, not a burden (especially when you have kids, lead by example). Explore your surroundings, take advantage of the opportunities you have at each base, it’s amazing what you can learn over the years (from horseback riding to pottery to sailing…it’s endless). After 27 years in the military and 18 relocations, I look back at an incredibly rich life.

    • Amy_Bushatz

      Such a great point. Obviously this list could’ve been “top 100 tips” haha

      • Romy Bush

        Yes, Amy bro, adventure is second example of living life with strength and that’s my life with Military.

      • John Matt

        Agree with Romy and doucette sir. I also had to face many difficulty when had backache severely just. But Military made my life and I am proud of such great things part.

  • kla

    My number one that took me FOREVER to get – memorize his social security number (yours no longer matters) and keep a paper with his unit name, symbol, his work DSN number if your overseas, and his APFS number. Memorize it if you have any brain cells left after being tossed into military life full of random acronyms, but generally by the time you do it will change. :)

  • Hilary

    You must sign up for dental insurance separately than tricare. I learned the hard way-$1400 broken tooth!

  • jojo613

    Don’t make assumptions about people without knowing them. Get to know the other spouses. You will be amazed how many lifelong friends you make, but don’t go in with a superiority or inferiority complex.

  • Matt Wilkinson

    Agree with the first comment entirely, getting used to militarys frustrations will be impossible without understanding where they stem from. Great tips in the blog