Saturday, November 10, 2012

50 Benefits for Active Duty and Retired Military Members

In honor of Veteran's Day, here is a list of benefits that military members receive.  Most are well known in the military community, some, not so much.  Remember when you read this list, however, that while they may seem like great benefits (and they are definitely money savers for the most part) these guys (and gals) earn these benefits--deployments away from the family for a year at a time, cancelled days off, working in harm's way, lots of moving, little to no say over where you are going or what you will be doing, etc. can really cause a lot of strain on the military members and their families.

  1. The commissary.  The commissary is a grocery store on the military base which, for the most part, has lower (on occasion MUCH lower) prices than the off-base grocery stores.
  2. Medical care.  One of the best military benefits available is the nearly free health insurance provided to active duty military, retirees, their dependents, and reserves.  Years ago the program was completely free.  These days there is a monthly fee which retirees pay which is still exceptionally low compared to civilian medical insurance programs.
  3. Additional medical service.  There are some additional medical services that can be had for veterans who would otherwise receive their normal medical care through their regular physicians such as glasses and hearing aids provided by the VA hospital. 
  4. Prescriptions.  The military medical system offers an excellent prescription program.  Of course you need to get the prescription from your doctor, but by submitting the prescription to the base pharmacy you can get many common prescription medications for free or only a few dollars.
  5. The Exchange.  The exchange (PX, BX, NEX) is a department store located on the military base.  Besides being tax free, some (not all) of the prices are lower than what you can find off base.
  6. Education.  The GI Bill is a well-known program that helps current and former military members pay for college.  There are also educational assistance programs as well as scholarships for the spouse and children of military members.  A new program allows for the military member to transfer their GI bill credits to their spouse or children.
  7. Entertainment.  Most military bases offer a range of free and discounted entertainment including a library, roller skating rink, movie theater, fishing, shooting, golf course, swimming pool, gym, tennis courts, bowling alley, and ceramics/crafts workshop as well as night clubs and restaurants.
  8. Recreation.  Many bases offer a range of recreation options from guided kayaking tours to outdoor gear rental to RV parks and camping facilities.
  9. Child care.  Many bases offer infant, toddler, and school-age care on base and at a discount from what off base providers would charge.
  10. Family services.  Most military bases offer a range of family support services.  These services can range from individual and family counseling, moving assistance, the ombudsman program which is the liaison between the family and the deployed family member, financial counseling, spiritual counseling, assistance with special needs family members, and social service advocacy (domestic violence, child abuse, etc).
  11. Lodging.  Many bases offer "hotels" for visiting military members and their families.  These can be anything from reinvented barracks to new buildings created specifically to house travelers and offered at lower rates than what you can find off base.
  12. Space A travel.  If you have the time this is a great way to travel for $15 to anywhere in the world that the military flies.  This means that you basically wait until there is space available on a plane (after cargo and military members traveling on orders), pay your $15, and go.  The down side is that you may be waiting for ages in a foreign country at peak travel times.
  13. Life insurance.  Military members get a sizable life insurance policy included for free with their benefits, while dependents and retirees can join for a small fee.
  14. Off-base discounts.  Many stores and businesses located near military bases offer discounts for military members with ID.  Generally they give 10% off a restaurant meal or off the price of the items you bought just by showing your military ID.
  15. Special discounts on Veteran's Day.  As this list shows, there are a bunch of discounts for the military on Veteran's Day.
  16. Red Cross assistance.  The Red Cross is well known for helping military families in an emergency.  Through one program they will help a soldier "get home" during a family emergency by acting as the liaison between the military member and the doctor of the ill family member.
  17. VA home loans.  We have used this program a couple of times.  This program offers $0 down mortgage loans and it also waives some of the closing costs for active duty and retired military members.
  18. Death benefits.  When an active duty or retired military member dies, the military provides a one-time death benefit payment.
  19. Vocational assistance.  Once out of the military some members need help transitioning to the civilian work force, the military offers this assistance for free.
  20. Benefits for spouses and family members of deceased veterans.  There is a host of programs to help the spouse and children of active duty and retired military members when they pass away.  
  21. A pension.  Retired military members get a pension for the rest of their life after retiring from military service.
  22. Discounted meals.  All active duty members receive free or discounted meals at the base galley; retirees and family members are usually also given discounts on galley meals as well.
  23. Housing.  As part of the active duty package, military members receive a stipend to cover their monthly housing expenses.  On some bases, retirees are allowed to live in military housing at a discount.
  24. Disability payment.  Military members who were disabled during or related to their military service receive an additional payment along with their monthly pension.
  25. Special assistance programs.  There are a number of programs geared to current and former military members including a suicide helplinesubstance abuse programs, and PTSD programs.
  26. Special pay programs.  While all military members receive pay based on their rate and rank, some military members receive additional pay for being in combat zones or for having high risk jobs in the military.
  27. Tax breaks.  Military members who are deployed to combat zones get special tax breaks from the IRS.
  28. Small Business Loans.  The SBA offers special loan programs for military members and veterans.
  29. Veteran's preference for jobs.  There is a special classification for veterans which gives them "preference points" when it comes to hiring for some types of civilian jobs.
  30. Debt collection protection.  The Soldiers and Sailors Relief Act allows for deferred debt collection when military members are deployed.
  31. Foreclosure assistance.  A new program assists military members who are dealing with default and foreclosure on their home.
  32. Assistance with unreimbursed medical care costs.  The Veteran's Aid and Assistance benefit provides additional funds to cover a range of unreimbursed medical care costs.
  33. Legal assistance.  The base legal office can provide a number of legal services for free to active and retired military members including Wills and Power of Attorney documents to divorce and probate services.
  34. Tax services.  Each year you can usually find free tax preparation services offered on many military bases.
  35. Cosmetic surgery.  This was a benefit I just learned of today while researching this post but apparently cosmetic surgery is offered at military hospitals.  Interesting.
  36. Discounted franchising opportunities.  VetFran assists veterans with buying into franchise businesses.
  37. State veteran's benefits.  Each state offers their own benefits to it's veterans.  Here is an example from Alaska but you can also check with your state office of veteran's affairs to see what benefits your state offers.
  38. Airport USO services.  Many airports offer USO services to active duty and retired military members.  This can be anything from a free meal and wi fi service to free overnight lodging while waiting for your next flight.
  39. Non profit veteran's services.  There are a number of non profits that provide services and support to veterans including the VFWUSONMCRSAFAS, etc.
  40. Voting assistance.  There is even a program to help military members vote (which can be harder than it sounds when you are deployed or moving around quite a bit with your job).
  41. Veteran's nursing homes and residential care.  The VA offers a range of nursing home and residential care options for retirees who can no longer live at home.
  42. Auto hobby shop.  Many bases include an auto hobby shop where you can work on your own car, buy auto parts at a discount, or even take classes on how to fix your car.
  43. Base community services. Many bases offer a range of businesses and services just like you would find off base such as a post office, veterinary clinic, barber/beauty shop, fast food restaurants, flower store, dry cleaners, bank, gas station, liquor store, etc.
  44. Banking services.  There are a handful of banks that cater to the military population including NFCU and Armed Forces Bank.
  45. Free National Park Pass.  The National Parks Service provides free annual passes to active duty and (at age 62) to retired military members.
  46. Discounted tickets.  Many tourist attractions offer free or discounted tickets to military members.  These range from Disneyland to pro baseball tickets to lists of discounts by city.
  47. Store and other discounts.  A giant list of other special discount programs for military members can be found here.
  48. Special laws for service members.  While rare, there are a couple of laws that were made that pertain specifically to protect service members such as this one and maybe this one (I haven't heard much about this one recently, however).
  49. Citizenship.  While obtaining US citizenship can be difficult if not impossible, the US government offers expedited citizenship and other services for US military members.
  50. Other travel benefits and discounts.  There are a number of other travel discounts and freebies available to military members which range from free camping to discounted airlines tickets and/or free baggage to the Armed Forces Vacation Club.

1 comment:

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