How Did You Learn About The Military?

A very kind commenter at C’mon Folks, Know Your Benefits made the case that I need to be a little more patient with people who have difficulty learning about the military and how it works, particularly with regard to benefits.  He or she is right, I do get impatient.  I want to make clear, however, that I am not impatient with people who are genuinely trying to learn and are finding it difficult.  What makes me mad is people who have an attitude of entitlement, and seem to think that the military should somehow magically give them individual guidance for each and every aspect of their life.  (They do, through Military One Source and your installation’s family readiness center, but that is off the topic of this post.)

As commenter MMM pointed out, most of us don’t get a welcome packet when we marry into the military.  We have to learn as we go, and there are certainly some ways to make the process easier.   Could you please share in the comments the ways that you have learned about the military.  I’d love to put together a “reader’s list” of suggestions to go with the list I put in the last post.

Here’s my entry, much of which is also in the comment for the other post:

When I married, the internet was not what it is today. After purchasing a few Navy Times newspapers at the commissary, I got a subscription. We also received the USAA Magazine, newsletters with our Navy Federal Credit Union statements, and information from the Navy Mutual Aid Society.

Now that we have the internet, I use it almost exclusively, except for attending classes and events held at nearby military installations. The internet is available to everyone. Heck, it was my retired military grandfather who recommended that I sign up for’s newsletters! Whenever I see an article that references a particular website or organization, I check it out. I sign up for newsletters. I read military blogs, and if I see a comment that I like, I click through to see if the comment’s author has a website. I seek out military spouse forums, and I participate. And I do A LOT of google searches.

I did fail to mention one thing:  spouses clubs.  I personally think it is a shame that many commands and installations are moving away from spouses clubs as they embrace family readiness groups (FRGs.)  FRGs are great , but many people don’t like them, and they have a very specific purpose.  A good spouses club can be an amazing tool for helping spouses adjust to military life, new bases, and learn things that they need to know.  As a new bride, I found the information provided by my husband’s command’s wives club to be so helpful.  (Yes, I’m that old, it was a wives club.)  There, I learned everything from how to navigate Tricare to how to behave at certain events.  If your command or base has a wives club, join!  You will probably meet some nice people and find fantastic resources.

Readers, please comment to share how you have learned about the military, and what resources have been the most helpful to you.  I know that others will appreciate your experience and wisdom.

About the Author

Kate Horrell
Kate Horrell is a military financial coach, mom of four teens, and Navy spouse. She has a background in taxes and mortgage banking, and a trove of experience helping other military families with their money. Follow her on twitter @realKateHorrell.
  • guest

    None of us get a welcome packet, nor would I expect ANYONE to go out of their way to educate me on my husbands job with the exception of my husband and myself. I found out by doing my own research, online, in newsletters, talking to people when I had questions. This sense of entitlement and “why didn’t the military tell me X” enrages me. Why should it be ANY companies job to go to a spouse and inform them of rights and benefits? It’s not, why should the military be different, they already go above and beyond?

    Add to the entitlement those spouses that think the chain of command should be involved in EVERY spousal argument, concern, or financial decision and it honestly makes me wonder what these so called adults would do in the “real” world. The military has taken far too much of a liking to coddling vs empowering families IMHO

  • Deb

    Research is great providing you receive the correct information. Tricare is a prime example of misinformation and incompetence. If our husbands are in the field and do not have the time to compile or gather information for us, where should we turn to? It’s not about coddling, it’s about ensuring that all military families are educated. It must be nice to sit (or stand) on your soap box and pass judgment by dismissing spouses as entitled. I do not dispute this, I have witnessed it but there is a gaping whole in the system.

    I thought I knew Army life until my husband was put on orders with USAREC. What a nightmare and a train wreck. We were completely left in the dark and to our own devices. For all the talk about sponsors and SFA’s etc. to assist, well that depends on the battalion. If you’re lucky, you won’t get 1st brigade. Tricare Prime Remote is a nightmare up here. The SFA has been AWOL or too busy planning ATC’s and when the wrong info was given to me, it was denied.

    So please remember, every command is different and every situation is different.

    • KateKashman

      Deb, it sounds like you have made efforts to become educated, and that is exactly what we’re all advocating. Would you be willing to share with others what resources have been helpful to you? P.S. I agree Tricare can be a nightmare, and I’ve heard that Tricare Prime Remote is challenging everywhere. Hope you’ve eventually unravelled the system.

  • Guest

    I guess you could call me an ‘Old-Timer’. .

    I joined the Army Reserve in 1950 (Great timing with the Korean War
    breaking out that summer). . .in boot camp, they found out my real
    age (14) and shipped me back home. I told my folks I had joined the
    Sea-Scouts and was going to camp for a couple of weeks. . . . . .Oh Boy

  • Kim

    I can understand where everyone listed above is coming from. My husband has been in the military since 88′ and we met in 93 (so I consider myself an “old dog’). He has been on title 32 or 10 orders for most of his career and I do not feel my husband or I are “entitled” to anything. If anything I feel my husband has “earned” his benefits and the right for “correct” knowledge of how to use it. With that being said, in most cases even senior leadership is unaware or uneducated themselves with the system in most cases or the military hires contractors that do not take the time to learn it before speaking about it. And lets be honest tricare is always changing so it is hard to keep up on that nightmare. I made it my mission to be informed on my own back in 2005 (mostly via internet and contacts that I made via the government) and compiled a list of resources and organizations that I can use in the event of any situation that I or my family come up against. It has helped not only me but other military families in our community. Blessings to you and your families..

  • christina

    …welcome packet tee hee hee. Well there was some kind of welcome packet and it went over most of the basics, but most of how I learned about how to use my benefits for myself and my family as an enlisted member was to read and do research. Most of what my husband knew was prior knowledge (he is retired army).

    Your posts kate are awesome and as a person who enjoys reading and doing research in my spare time I hope you continue writing them. I would also enjoy more male mil-spouse articles over on spousebuzz too. What ever became of the Captain Molly site? that was another one that was quite enjoyable.

    Thank you for writing, even if you don’t go over everything you go over enough that sparks interest, raises questions for command, and research.