A Complete Annual Benefits Guide for Troops, Vets and Families

US Army Family
Many active and retired personnel of the military are unaware of the benefits available to them. These benefits change or improve on a regular basis and if you are not updated with the changes, you might find it surprising one day to know that there’s been a drastic change in policies. Therefore, we publish a yearly guide of benefits to make sure all military troops, vets and family members are up to date with the current benefits.


Our guide is a document that is updated every year with any changes or amendments made by the Pentagon, Congress and the Veterans Affairs Department.


Some of the major highlights of the changes and additions to the policies are as follows:


Pay & Benefits:


First off, the Pay and Benefits section provides updates regarding the most important issues related to compensation. These are the areas that directly affect the service members’ pay structure. The year 2016 gave an annual raise of 1.3 percent to service members. This pay increment is effective from January 1, 2016. Note that this chapter not only talks about the major highlights of the changes and additions to the payment plans but it also gives an overview of the Thrift Savings Plan, its changes and additions. In the year 2015, The Thrift Savings Plan was signed into law for the retired military personnel. It was a reform plan that was one of the major highlights of 2015.


Support Services:


The Support Services chapter in the detailed report represents changes and amendments made to the child care services. Firstly, it talks about the new Defense Department expansion of child care services. According to the new plan, all child development centers across the country will remain open for up to 14 hours a day. Note that these changes will be applied once the defense secretary’s directives have been taken into account. In addition, parents eligible for the plan will be entitled to a subsidized child care plan of up to 12 hours a day. These services ensure that child development of military personnel is taken into account at its utmost potential.


Education:


The chapter of Education reflects the changes and amendments made by the Department of Defense Education Activity’s transition to ‘College and Career Ready Standards’. Note that the ‘College and Career Ready Standards’ is an initiative that is based on the most common practices adopted by most stated for the education. In addition, the DoDEA is also planning to include the national standards for math and literacy over a phase of next five years. Note that this chapter also covers the details on military programs for spouses, military education benefits for service members and the usage of GI Bill benefits. Also, the report covers aspects of the future policies of education related to children and spouses of military personnel.


Healthcare:


This section of the report covers the changes and additions made to the military health system. Note that the Congress has recommended quite a few changes and additions this year from the Military Compensation and Retirement Modernization Commission. First off, the commission went on to advise privatizing healthcare facilities for military family members and retired personnel. In addition, on the other hand, the Defense Department has proposed Tricare changes over the years. The 2017 fiscal budget request from Defense Department has called in for reorganizing the entire system. They have also advised charging higher fees to beneficiaries who opt for civilian care instead of military care.


Housing:


This chapter is all about Housing facilities for military personnel, including but not limited to VA loans, Basic Allowance for Housing changes and the like. Note that the Defense Department is moving a good chunk of the overall budget to the housing costs of service members. Therefore, the changes in the Housing section is of utmost importance for retired members and families.


Moving:


This chapter includes all the details, additions and recommendations for any service member who is dealing with permanent change of vicinity or change of station. This includes rules and regulations regarding personal vehicle shipments, contacts to set up schedule and filing claims for any damages on their personal property. The contacts in this scenario refer to contacts that are used to set up schedules with different professionals in order to reduce the stress that members will have to go when relocating to a completely new vicinity.


Recreation:


As the name implies, this chapter covers all the additions, improvements and changes in the different military welfare, recreation and morale programs. There is a wide range of activities suggested that service members, their families and veterans can participate in. This includes but is not limited to outdoor and indoor activities. In addition, this chapter also takes into consideration activities such as traveling in free time. Note that you can get more affordable personal trips and also discounts on a lot of cruises, vacation deals, vacation rentals, military resorts and car rentals.


Retirement:


Retirement is one of the most important chapters as it highlights the major changes in the military retirement system. A lot of these changes have already taken place while there are some major ones to take place in 2018, which military personnel should understand and take notes of. In addition, it should be noted that the system has been converted into one that automatically shrinks the size of the pension by 20 percent from the traditional pension system it used to be. However, the portion of the pension that is cut down is replaced by a portion of benefit with government contributions. These contributions are provided through individual investment accounts held by service members. These Thrift Savings Plan accounts are only allowed to individuals who have completed up to two years of service with a good record.



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