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Military Benefits Overview
I have been in the military for over 12 years now. Military benefits is something that I never focused too much on. Now that I am married i realize how important it is to know about the benefits to take advantage of while in the military and how foolish it was for me not to care much about these military benefits in the early years of my career.
There are many military benefits that every service member should pay attention to. I will talk about the military benefits that I believe are the most importanat and may have a big impact on the lives and careers of young service members and of course in the career of any service member for that matter. Had I taken a more active role about my benefits, I would definitely be better off at this time but it is never too late to take advantage of these great benefits that the military offer to all service members.
I believe the education benefits for service members are the most important since they can impact an individuals life or military career.
I joined the Marine Corps a little over 12 years ago. When I joined i was told that I could go school and the military would pay for it. I thought to myself I am too busy enjoying Okinawa Japan to go to school. I regret it now because I realize many of my friends who did take the opportunity now hold bachelors degrees or masters or have become Military Officers due to their education they received through the military.
Tuition assistance is a benefit that I am taking advantage of now. I know it is late but it is never too late to have an education. Tuition assistance has a different policy in the different branches of the military, but the concept remains the same. A service member gets tuition paid for 100 percent as long as it does not go over $4500 in a fiscal year. The money is paid directly to the school after the service member gets approval. This benefit does not cover books or fees associated with the classes, but there are many schools that cover the costs of fees and books and basically the service member pays nothing as long as he or she does not go over the $4500 cap. Also is is a good idea to make sure that the school is member of the SOC agreement (Service Members Opportunity Colleges), It pretty much guarantees college credits being transferred to other schools as long as the schools are members of the SOC agreement.
Another option is the Montgomery GI Bill. As a US Marine I paid $1200 that gave me money for college for up to 36 months as long as I completed two years of active duty, and if I get out of the military I have 10 years to use that benefit; of course I have to be discharged under honorable conditions, This military benefit can also be used to continue school after tuition assistance money has ran out, it is called the top up program.
A new program for the GI bill has now been started. It is the Post 9/11 GI bill that has better benefits than the old GI Bill. This bill is to take effect August 1st 2009. If a service member decides to enroll in this new GI Bill he or she will have tuition for up to 36 months and he or she will also have housing allowance usually only given to Active Duty service members. The housing allowance would be equivalent to that of an E-5, a Sergeant n the Marines. The benefits can also be transferred to family members but the policy is still being worked out so it is not on paper yet on how that will work.
There is a lot more to talk about when it comes to education benefits, The bottom line is that any service member has the opportunity to get a good education that could help if deciding to get out of the service or to have better opportunities within the service.
Health Benefits in the Military
I remember having to go to a civilian dentist for a root canal; our base did not have the facilities to perform this procedures. After everything was done I was waiting in the lobby and I saw how a family was about to leave and the receptionist said "your insurance covered $500 of your bill, now the balance is $200 something dollars" I vividly remember the lady giving out a sigh having to pay that much. I felt very relieved that I had to pay nothing for a procedure that it's usually more than one thousand dollars.
I felt sad for the old couple but I assume it is a reality here in the United States where health care has become so expensive that many people just can not afford it. Health care is a great benefit from the military. We have to be in top physical and mental health and most of the time the militay gets very good health care. It is true that there are exceptions especially now with the war on terrorism that the VA health care system was not adequately equipped to deal with a long war. I would say that in general al service members and their families get very good healt care with a fraction of the cost compared to the civilian community.
Many times we do not like going to the Doctor, especially being a service member where you don' want to admit that you are broken, maybe a sprained ankle, a chronic pain, etc. but I think that if health care is almost free then why not take advantage of it and be in top shape. It only makes sense I think but unfortunately there will always be the ones saying I don't need a Doctor or the pain will go away, and years down the road they realize hey maybe I should have gone to the Doctor. Health Care benefits are a great benefit for the military given the current situation in the country where millions struggle to have decent health care.
A service member may at any time in his/her career just leave and deploy to far distant lands. Many of us love the fact that we can be at any place in the world within days hours. It is a great feeling if you are single and with no kids, but all that changes with a family to take care of. There has to be a lot of planning when facing a deployment or just day to day work, There can be a lot of stress and all this can affect a marriage, the kids so the military has many services to deal with these situation when they arise.
Every unit has a military family support center where service members and their families can talk to counselors about different issues that could affect family life. Deployment planning, financial counseling, marriage counseling, transition assistance, these are some of the topics that can be covered in the family center to make sure everything is covered and planned before making decisions.
The family has to be taken care of, financially and emotionally and these family centers are a great way to get help in dealing with different situations. There is also Military One Source which covers many of these topics and service members can also ask online about different issues as well and get a response in a very timely manner. I have placed the link on the link resources below.
These are only a few of the benefits that Military members have while serving this great nation. It is important to research and informed of all the benefits that can impact our careers or family lives. It is also important to inform those that work for us and take care of them and make sure they know of all the benefits they have in the military.