Sea Legs - The Beginning
The military lifestyle can seem challenging, especially if you have no previous military experience. This is a list of the most urgent items to obtain after you are married so you can take advantage of your benefits and entitlements.
Print out your New Spouse Checklist to help you get started.
Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System (DEERS)
It is essential that service members update their Coast Guard service records when they gain or lose a family member. Encourage your Coast Guardsman to update DEERS enrollment forms and other important papers, such as the SGLI election form and the Designation of Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH) and Emergency Data form, immediately upon marriage, divorce, birth of a child or death of a family member.
Enrollment in DEERS requires presentation of documents to verify your identity and relationship to the service member. These documents may include original or certified copies of your Social Security card, government issued photo ID, birth certificate, adoption papers, marriage certificate, divorce certificate, legal court order or death certificate.
To update DEERS records, contact Defense Manpower Data Center Support Office (DMDC) at
800-538-9552. To update your address only in DEERS, visit
Every military family is issued a Uniformed Services Identification and Privilege Card (ID card). Proper registration in DEERS is required to receive military benefits. An ID card allows access to the base, commissary, exchange, military hospitals and clinics. This includes Department of Defense (DOD) facilities such as Army, Air Force, Marines and Navy bases. ID cards have an expiration date and should be renewed early to prevent loss of benefits.
Family members who qualify for ID:
- Wives or husbands (and some former spouses);
- Widows or widowers;
- Unmarried children ages 10-21;
- Unmarried children, 21-23, who are full-time college students;
- Mentally or physically disabled unmarried children over 21, not capable of supporting themselves;
- A Coast Guardsman’s parents or spouse’s parents (in certain circumstances); and/or,
- Children placed in the custody of a service member, either by a court for a period of at least 12 months or by a recognized adoption agency in anticipation of legal adoption by the service member.
Obtaining an ID card
All sponsors (active duty, Reserve or retired) are automatically registered in DEERS. However, the sponsor must enroll eligible family members. You will need to visit a Uniformed Services ID card facility with your sponsor. This facility may be located at or on the local Coast Guard base, the sector offices or any other Uniformed Services military base or facility. Contact the nearest Uniformed Services ID card issuing facility to learn what documents are required. You can find the nearest ID card office by visiting: www.cac.mil. If your sponsor is unable to accompany you, he/she must arrange to obtain all of the necessary documentation that will allow you to visit the ID card facility without him/her being present. Contact your command’s Servicing Personnel Office (SPO) for additional information.
Basic legal services are available at no charge to active duty members and their families. The Coast Guard Legal Office (usually at a Coast Guard District Office) can assist and advise you in matters such as wills, powers of attorney, tax codes, leases, contracts, creditors and consumer concerns. They may also provide notary public services (depending on availability). Legal services are also available to Coast Guard members and their dependents from Department of Defense (Army, Air Force, Navy, Marine Corps) legal offices.
If the military member is deployed, it may sometimes be necessary for the spouse to have a power of attorney in order to resolve various legal issues, such as pay problems, financial concerns, or other personal issues (register vehicles, school registration, sign rental agreements, etc.).
To obtain additional information on Legal Assistance, open the “Legal Assistance Resources” tab at https://www.uscg.mil/Resources/legal/LMA/Legal_Assistance/.
While legal services are generally available to dependents of active duty service members for civil law issues, the legal offices will not represent active duty service member’s dependents in court, nor can they represent a service member for cases against the Government. Additionally, for matters pertaining to Non-Judicial Punishment (NJP) and Courts Martial against a service member, a military Judge Advocate General’s Corps (JAG) officer is generally appointed from another military branch as defense counsel when appropriate.
TRICARE is the military health care program serving active duty members, their families, retirees, survivors and certain former spouses worldwide.
The program is available worldwide. It is managed jointly by the Defense Health Agency (DHA) and regional offices. It is broken down into three regions: TRICARE East, West, and Overseas. Visit www.tricare.mil/About/Regions to find your region.
If you are having any TRICARE related problems, personnel are available to assist you at:
TRICARE East 1 (800) 444-5445
TRICARE West 1 (844) 866-9378
TRICARE Overseas – Country specific Toll-Free numbers
TRICARE Dental Program (TDP)
Dental coverage is separate from TRICARE’s medical coverage. The TDP is a voluntary dental program. The dental benefit is available to eligible active duty family members, National Guard and Reserve members and their family members. Additional information is available at www.tricare.mil/dental/.
The Federal Employees Dental and Vision Insurance Program (FEDVIP)
Family members of active duty service members who are enrolled in a TRICARE Health Plan can enroll in a FEDVIP vision plan.
Additional information is available at https://tricare.benefeds.com/.
Life Insurance and Other Benefits
Life insurance is available to Coast Guard members through Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance (SGLI). Full coverage, under SGLI, is $400,000 per member.
Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance (SGLI) Election form
SGLI is a program that provides low-cost term life insurance coverage to eligible Servicemembers. If eligible, you are automatically issued the maximum SGLI coverage. If you qualify for SGLI, you are automatically enrolled and do not need to apply for coverage.
Servicemembers can make changes to your SGLI coverage. For example, Servicemembers can decline SGLI coverage, select a lesser amount than maximum coverage, designate beneficiaries, and/or make other changes.
Coverage is available in $50,000 increments up to the maximum of $400,000. If you qualify as eligible for SGLI, you are automatically enrolled and do not need to apply for coverage. However, to designate beneficiaries, or to reduce, decline, or restore SGLI coverage, you can now manage your SGLI coverage using the SGLI Online Enrollment System (SOES). SOES allows Servicemembers with full-time SGLI coverage to make fast and easy changes to their life insurance coverage and beneficiary information at any time without completing a paper form or making a trip to their personnel office. To access SOES, sign into https://www.dmdc.osd.mil/milconnect and go to the Benefits Tab, Life Insurance SOES- SGLI Online Enrollment System.
Additional information is available at www.benefits.va.gov/insurance/sgli.asp
Family Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance (FSGLI) is a program extended to the spouses and dependent children of members insured under the SGLI program. FSGLI provides up to a maximum of $100,000 of insurance coverage for spouses, not to exceed the amount of SGLI the insured member has elected and $10,000 for dependent children. Spousal coverage is issued in increments of $10,000.
In order to be eligible for FSGLI, spouses and children must be registered in the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System (DEERS). Once registered in DEERS, spouses and children are automatically covered at maximum amount of coverage, unless the service member declines coverage by filing a SGLV-8286A (Family Coverage Election) form with their servicing personnel office or using the SGLI Online Enrollment System (SOES) at https://www.dmdc.osd.mil/milconnect.
Military members married to other military members are required to register their spouses in DEERS, as well. This allows for calculation of FSGLI premiums, as DEERS is the only official source of the spouse’s personal information, such as date of birth.