Military Discounts for Major League Baseball Games

Major League Baseball teams are showing their appreciation for service members, both past and present, with military discounts on 2020 game tickets. Many teams also hold military appreciation days to honor those who have served our country.

Look for your favorite team in the list below and take advantage of the military discounts that can help get you to the ballpark for less.

Play ball!

American League

Baltimore Orioles

Members of the military (active-duty, retired, reserve and veteran) receive 50% off Value & Classic games, 40% off Select games and 25% off Prime and Elite games (excluding Opening Day) when purchasing online. There is a limit of eight tickets per ID.

Tampa Bay Rays

Military members can receive two complimentary tickets to select home games and special ticket offers throughout the season. MacDill Air Force Base ITT also offers discounted tickets to Tampa Bay Rays games.

Detroit Tigers

The Detroit Tigers offer active-duty, retired, reserve and veteran military personnel with discounted tickets during the 2020 season.

Oakland Athletics

The A’s offer a military discount online to active-duty, Reserves and veterans on select Oakland A’s home games throughout the 2020 season.

Seattle Mariners

Military members receive 10% off select Main, Terrace and View Level seats for all Mariners regular season games (excluding Opening Day). Limit four tickets per ID.

National League

Arizona Diamondbacks

Military members receive special pricing on game tickets for the Arizona Diamondbacks. Specially priced tickets can be purchased online with verification. Service members can enjoy up to 50% off select locations for every game of the season.

Los Angeles Dodgers

The Dodgers offer discounts to military personnel with ID for every game excluding all 5,6 and 7-Star Games in 2020. Get $10 Off Loge MVP, Reserve MVP, and Right Field Pavilion seats (1, 2, 3 & 4 Star Games Only). Tickets are available on the day of game only and are subject to availability. They may be purchased at any ticket booth, two hours prior to game time until 60 minutes after the first pitch. Additional discounts are available to military personnel for stadium tours.

Atlanta Braves

The Atlanta Braves offer discounted tickets for all regular season home games during the 2020 season. They are offering 33% off tickets in the Terrace Infield, Home Run Porch and Grandstand Reserved seating locations. Get this discount online after verification or at the SunTrust Park ticket windows with valid ID.

Cincinnati Reds

The Cincinnati Reds offer special pricing on tickets to active-duty, reserve, veteran, and retired service members and families. Tickets are available in a variety of locations on a first-come, first-served basis. Get discount online after verification.

Miami Marlins

Each Monday at the ballpark, active and retired military personnel and veterans receive two complimentary tickets. Tickets are only available for pick up at the Center Field Entrance, on day of game 90 minutes prior to first pitch. All active military and retired military are also eligible to receive a 10% discount to select games online with verification.

Philadelphia Phillies

The Phillies offer active-duty, retired military, reservists and veterans discounted tickets to select home games throughout the 2020 season.

Pittsburgh Pirates

The Pirates offer military and their families special pricing on game tickets (up to half off) after verification online. Discount does not apply to Opening Day, April 2, 2020.

San Diego Padres

The San Diego Padres offers military discounts, including 50% off Sunday Military Appreciation tickets. Tickets for military and their families are available online through verification or at the Padres Advance Ticket Windows at Petco Park. And military personnel can also get discounted Padres tickets at the San Diego MWR.

2020 Military Appreciation Month Discounts

Service members and families are being honored during Military Appreciation Month with a variety of discounts in 2020. Below are some highlighted offerings.

Carowinds

On May 24 and 25, Carowinds will waive the admission fee for active military, retired military, National Guard and Reserve Officers’ Training Corps. They also offer free tickets for veterans with an honorable or medical discharge. Family members can enjoy special military offers, too.

Michigan’s Adventure

On May 24 and 25, Michigan’s Adventure will waive the regular admission fee for active and retired members of the Armed Forces, National Guard and Reserve. Military personnel can purchase up to six discounted tickets for immediate family members for $27 each.

Splashway Waterpark and Campground

Active military, veterans and their immediate family receive 50% off tickets throughout the Memorial Day weekend at Splashway Waterpark and Campground in Sheridan, Texas.

Academy Sports + Outdoors

Current and former military members and their immediate families get 10% off their entire purchase both in-store and online May 12 through May 27.

AMC Theatres

Military, veterans and their dependents get a free large popcorn May 24 through May 27 at participating theatres.

Bad to the Bone BBQ 

Bad to the Bone BBQ in San Juan Capistrano, California is offering a 10% discount on all food purchases throughout the month of May.

Birmingham Zoo

Active duty, retired military, veterans and their dependents get free admission to the zoo May 25 through 27.

Blue Star Museums

Blue Star Museums is a collaboration among the National Endowment for the Arts, Blue Star Families, the Department of Defense, and more than 2,000 museums across America to offer free admission to the nation’s military. The 2019 Blue Star Museums program will begin on Saturday, May 18, 2019, Armed Forces Day, and end on Monday, September 2, 2019, Labor Day.

Busch Gardens

Through the Waves of Honor program, former military personnel and up to three guests may enjoy one complimentary admission to Busch Gardens in Virginia and Florida. Tickets must be obtained online by June 9 and redeemed at the park for visitation by July 15, 2019.

California’s Great America

Active or retired military members receive free admission on May 25­ through May 27. Additionally, military members can purchase up to six tickets for family and friends for just $24 each.

Cedar Point

Military members get free admission during Memorial Day weekend (May 24 to 27). All active, retired or honorably discharged military members are eligible, plus up to six Cedar Point tickets can be purchased for immediate family members at the military discount rate.

Cincinnati Zoo

All members of the military will receive free admission on Memorial Day.  The offer also allows military personnel to purchase up to six half-price admission tickets for members of their immediate family. Military personnel who qualify for the free admission ticket and discount offer for family members include active military, retired military, National Guard, veterans with honorable or medical discharge and Reserve Officers’ Training Corps with government issued ID.

Colonial Williamsburg

Colonial Williamsburg offers free admission during Memorial Day weekend to all active-duty military, retired, veterans, activated or drilling reservists, National Guard personnel, and up to three direct dependents. Keep in mind that active-duty, activated or drilling reservists, and National Guard personnel must select one complimentary day per year.

Crayola Experience in Easton, PA

All active, retired and veteran military members receive free admission throughout May. Your immediate family receives 25% off admission.

Dorney Park

On May 25 through 27, Dorney Park will waive the regular admission fee for active military, retired military, National Guard, veterans with honorable or medical discharge and Reserve Officers’ Training Corps. Up to 6 immediate family members of military personnel can purchase tickets for only $29.99.

Firebirds Wood Fired Grill

Firebirds Wood Fired Grill is honoring active military and veterans by treating them to a free lunch or dinner entree with the purchase of an entree on Memorial Day, May 27.

Fogo de Chao

Fogo de Chao is offering 50% off a meal for any veteran or active duty personnel on Memorial Day, May 27. Up to three guests per military veteran/personnel will receive 10% off their meals.

Food Lion

On May 27, Food Lion stores will offer a 10% MVP discount to all active military personnel and veterans.

Gilroy Gardens Family Theme Park

Active or retired military members get free admission for themselves, and up to 6 additional tickets to the park for $30 each, May 25 through 27.

Goodyear Auto Service

Active duty military and veterans who schedule an appointment from May 23 to 27 for service before June 13 will receive a free car care check, including checks on tires, brakes, alignment and brake/power-steering fluid, as well as 10% off of Goodyear tires.

HealthSource Chiropractic

HealthSource Chiropractic is giving active and former military members free exams and x-rays throughout May at approximately 250 clinics nationwide.

Hersheypark

Military families get a 40% discount on tickets and free parking during Military Appreciation Weekend, May 17 through 19.

Home Depot

All veterans are eligible for Home Depot’s 10% military discount on Memorial Day with a DoD-issued ID, a DD214 or a Veterans Driver’s License. (This discount is good for veterans on July 4th and Veterans Day as well.)

Hooters

On Monday, May 27, current and former U.S. military members get a free entrée from the Hooters Memorial Day Menu at participating Hooters locations.

Hyundai

From May 17 through June 3, active duty, Reservist/National Guard, veteran, and retired U.S. military personnel get an additional $1,000 credit toward a new Hyundai vehicle.

Indianapolis Zoo

Current and former members of the military are admitted free on Memorial Day. Plus, all non-military family members receive a $2 discount on day-of, on-site ticket purchases.

Just Tires

Active duty military and veterans who schedule an appointment from May 23 to 27 for service before June 13 will receive a free car care check, including checks on tires, brakes, alignment and brake/power-steering fluid, as well as 10% off of Goodyear tires.

Kings Dominion

Active and retired military will receive free park admission on May 25 through 27. Their family members can purchase tickets online for $39.99.

Kings Island

Kings Island is offering military personnel free admission May 24 through May 27. Qualifying military personnel can also purchase discount tickets at a special price of $35 per ticket for up to six family members at the park.

LaMar’s Donuts

Active duty and retired military get a free donut and coffee at participating locations on Memorial Day.

LEGOLAND Discovery Center Boston

During the month of May, LEGOLAND Discovery Center Boston will be offering free admission to all active duty, reserves, and military veterans while offering 50% off Walk Up Admission for their friends and families.

LEGOLAND Discovery Center Philadelphia

During the month of May, LEGOLAND Discovery Center Philadelphia will be offering free admission to all active duty, reserves, and military veterans while offering 50% off Walk Up Admission for their friends and families.

LEGOLAND Discovery Center Westchester

During the month of May, LEGOLAND Discovery Center Westchester will be offering free admission to all active duty, reserves, and military veterans while offering 50% off Walk Up Admission for their friends and families.

Logan’s Roadhouse

Logan’s Roadhouse will offer a free meal from their American Roadhouse Meals menu to active duty service members and veterans on May 27 from 3 – 6 p.m.

Magic Springs Theme and Water Park

Magic Springs is saluting members of the military (active and veterans) with free admission April 27 to May 27. Family members are $35.99 plus tax May 11 through 27 when accompanied by a military member.

McCormick & Schmick’s

McCormick & Schmick’s Seafood Restaurants are offering a complimentary entrée on May 27 to Gold Star honorees (parents and spouse), veterans and active members of the military and National Guard.

Mission BBQ

Veterans and active duty military get a free sandwich the week of May 13. (Dates vary by service branch.)

Mystic Aquarium

Mystic Aquarium is offering free admission for veterans and active-duty service members May 25 to 27. Family members receive $10 off general admission when each person shows a dependent ID.

Navy Federal Credit Union

Navy Federal Credit Union is celebrating Military Appreciation Month with the launch of special offers, including $25 when you open a new Active Duty Checking account and select digital combined statements, $250 cash back when you refinance your current auto loan with Navy Federal from another lender and more.

NY Waterway

Service men and women in uniform or those who have a valid military ID showing their active duty or veteran status can ride free on all NY Waterway ferry routes during Fleet Week, May 22 through 28.

Ninety Nine Restaurant and Pub

On Monday, May 27, veterans and active military can purchase any meal and enjoy a free entrée from the 9 Real Size Entrées for $9.99 Menu.

Oregon Zoo

On May 27, military veterans and their families, active military personnel and their families, and families of deployed military personnel get free admission. The zoo store will also be offering a 10% discount and all zoo restaurants will be offering a 10% discount to veterans, active military personnel and their families.

Outback Steakhouse

Outback is offering a 20% off Heroes Discount from May 23 through May 27.

Rack Room Shoes

Rack Room Shoes offers a 10% discount off your entire purchase in stores on Memorial Day to anyone with a military ID.

Rubio’s Coastal Grill

On May 27, active duty military and veterans get one free adult entree, with the purchase of another adult entree with coupon.

Schlitterbahn Waterparks

Members of the military are admitted free during American Heroes Week May 27 to June 2, 2019 to all Schlitterbahn Waterparks. Tickets for spouses and dependent children are available for 40% off the gate price.

Sherwin-Williams

In honor of Military Appreciation Month, military and veterans save an additional 10% on Paints & Stains during the month of May.

Silverwood Theme Park

Military personnel and veterans receive free admission on May 25, 26 and 27. Their immediate family members (spouse and children) also receive a special discounted rate ($24.00 plus tax, ages 8-64, $19.00 plus tax, ages 3-7 and 65+, a savings of up to $14.00).

Sleep Number

Through June 2, Sleep Number is offering an exclusive military offer of $100 off your purchase on top of any sale pricing.

Sun Splash Family Waterpark

On May 27, active or retired military, disabled veterans, and military reservists receive a free one-day admission, and up to 4 family members accompanying military personnel can receive a $3 discount off general admission.

Texas de Brazil

Texas de Brazil offers 50% off for veterans and active-duty military and 20% off for up to eight guests of the veteran or active-duty military personnel May 27 through 29.

Twin Peaks

Twin Peaks is offering a free meal from a select menu on May 27 for active duty military and veterans.

Valleyfair

On May 24 through 27, Valleyfair will waive the regular admission fee for active military, retired military, National Guard, veterans with honorable or medical discharge and Reserve Officers’ Training Corps. Up to six immediate family members of military personnel can purchase tickets for $37.

Virginia Aquarium

On Sundays and Mondays in May, anyone who shows a valid military ID will receive 50% off the purchase of an Aquarium admission.

Worlds of Fun

Active duty military and veterans receive complimentary admission to Worlds of Fun on May 18 (Armed Forces Day) and May 27 (Memorial Day). Military personnel can also purchase up to six discounted tickets for their immediate family.

Benefits of Dual-Military Couples

When one military member marries another, the couple becomes a “dual military” couple, also known as mil-to-mil marriages. Different branches of service may use other terms.

Dual military couples are common, and the number of same-service couples may be larger than those who marry someone from a different branch of service. Army spouses, Air Force husbands and wives, Navy couples, Marine Corps families, and Coast Guard couples know there are more pay and higher allowances offered to married couples.

Here are some ways dual-military couples can benefit:

A “Hidden” Mil-To-Mil Couples Benefit

Assuming both halves of a dual-military spouse situation have put in the required time-in-service requirements to qualify to apply for a VA home loan, a dual military couple has some unique alternatives that a single service member does not have quite the same access to. What does this mean?

VA loans require you to have full VA loan entitlement for the loan. Generally, if you have never used your VA loan benefits before, you have 100% of your entitlement remaining once you have your VA Certificate of Eligibility.

Dual military couples have a choice to make when it comes time to apply for a VA mortgage. They can both use their entitlement for the loan, and the borrower’s financial commitment to the loan is matched by the amount of entitlement. If two members apply and both use their VA loan entitlement, they are both charged half of that entitlement.

But a dual military couple has the option to use only one person’s VA loan entitlement, which means the other spouse has the ability to apply for another VA mortgage later on (assuming the borrower is financially qualified to do so).

The option of two VA home loans is a definite advantage.

BAH Benefits For Married Troops

Consider the “with dependents rate” for BAH (the military housing allowance–a higher amount of housing money paid to the service member with one or more dependents. For this purpose, a spouse is considered a “dependent”, technically speaking). The single service member does not get this elevated rate, only married couples (dual military or not).

When a mil-to-mil couple draws BAH, a table is required to determine the couple’s BAH rates (per individual). Federal regulations governing BAH are found in the government publication Joint Travel Regulations, Chapters 8 through 10, which includes guidance on how BAH is paid to dual-military couples.

In mil-to-mil couples without dependent children, both spouses are paid without the dependents rate. If the couple has children, one spouse receives the with-dependent BAH rate, the other gets the single-rate BAH.

Better Housing For Married Troops

The housing situation for Airmen, Sailors, Soldiers, and Marines can be much improved over life in the barracks; married couples are not subject to the same kinds of living quarters inspections and communal living considerations that single service members have to deal with.

And the higher your rank, the better options you may have open to you depending on location and other factors.

Consider a typical military assignment to a new base where there is plenty of on-and off-post housing to choose from. An enlisted service member in the ranks of E1 through E3 (and in some cases E4s with less than four years of service or some similar standard) is not permitted to live in the local community. These troops are usually required to live in the barracks.

Married couples in the same rank/time-in-service situations are not subject to these requirements unless they are sent to an unaccompanied assignment where the family will not live.

Married troops (dual military or not) have choices that include privatized, on-base housing, as well as housing in the local community. Dual military couples don’t get any additional consideration in this area, but as it stands the housing situation is greatly improved for the married couple.

It should be pointed out here that the “better housing for couples” is not an intentional effort or policy by Defense Department leaders to offer married service members a better lifestyle, but in many areas, married couples do reap the benefit of their situation and the military’s willingness to provide higher allowances, better housing, etc.

Food Allowances: Basic Allowance For Subsistence

Depending on where you are assigned, the cost of living in the area, and other factors, you and your dual military spouse may qualify to draw an allowance known as BAS, the Basic Allowance for Subsistence. BAS is intended to aid meal costs for service members. Both halves of the mil-to-mil couple can draw this allowance, effectively doubling it.

Child Care Issues For Mil-To-Mil Couples

The military does not have a specific policy that offers childcare benefits to married couples.

All families are required by their branch of service to provide documentation outlining a childcare plan for contingencies such as deployments, TDY, etc.

One of the biggest advantages of being a military parent is the ability to use on-base childcare options such as Child Development Centers, Family Child Care offered in regulated private on-base homes, etc.

Childcare expenses are huge challenges for families, and CDC costs are based on rank among other factors. Lower-ranking (and lower-paid) enlisted service members won’t carry the same financial burden their more experienced and higher-ranking co-workers will.

In this area, the dual military couple has a distinct advantage. DoD school centers may prioritize dual-military family enrollment. There may be other resources DoD might offer as well. Check with your Family Readiness Group or Work Life Program for information to support you and your children’s transition.

Join-Spouse Or Joint Spouse Assignments

Military members often get reassigned to a new military base, installation, or even a deployment without the option to bring families along (i.e., military duty in parts of South Korea are “no dependents” tours, and all deployment situations are strictly “no dependents”.)

When a dual military couple faces the next round of PCS orders, they have the option to apply for a Join Spouse or Joint Spouse (the preferred term of the Air Force) assignment so that both can be given PCS orders to the new gaining base.

This is not always possible, and some reassignments involving mil-to-mil couples have them assigned to different bases roughly within a 100-mile radius or less. There are instances of mil-to-mil couples who have been deployed to war zones together or those who wind up in the same country at the same time but have to commute to be together.

Military couples must keep in mind that they are subject to the needs and whims of the military assignment system and it is best to have a detailed conversation with your detailer, Senior Chief, Chief of Personnel, or any other position that may have a direct effect on where you are assigned next as a couple or as an individual.

Ask the advice of your current assignments person to learn how to apply for joint assignments, but also talk to your unit orderly room to discuss how to claim the higher rates or added allowances if you are soon to be married, or recently married and in need of an update to your military records.

When You Cannot Be Assigned Together As A Mil-To-Mil Couple

Plenty of military blogs discuss the benefits of the Join Spouse assignment option, but not everyone gets to take advantage. The mission comes first and the needs of the military may not include letting a mil-to-mil couple be reassigned to the same base.

In such cases, there is a Family Separation Allowance you may qualify for as a married service member (even if you are not a dual military couple). However, there are specific rules for claiming this allowance as a dual military couple:

  • You must be sent away from your family for more than 30 days due to receiving military orders.
  • The couple must be living together as a couple before the duty begins.
  • Only one person in the dual military couple can receive the allowance.
  • A dual military family that receives orders for each spouse is paid only once, to the highest-ranking service member of the couple.

Double Retirement Pay For Dual Military Couples

This does NOT refer to a special program offering to double military retirement pay for mil-to-mil couples; at the time of this writing, such a program does not exist.

However, assuming both military members choose to remain in uniform until retirement-eligible, it’s easy to see that when both spouses draw military retirement pay, that effectively doubles the amount assuming the time-in-service, time-in-grade, and other variables match up.

Mil-to-mil couples who do not retire at the same rank and time-in-service (among other variables) may not draw the exact same amount of retirement pay.

Other Factors You Should Know

The benefits of being a dual military couple can include being assigned together, drawing higher allowances (the “with-dependents” rate), getting better housing options, and better retirement pay numbers (assuming both spouses retire from military service).

But being a dual military couple has downsides, too–it’s important to anticipate these as much as it is to know your benefits and making sure you take everything you are entitled to.

Some military-related blogs have encouraged dual-military couples to do things like apply for reassignment to the highest-cost-of-living areas possible to maximize BAH payments and other benefits.

Veteran Health ID Card (VHIC) and How to Get It

What do you need to know about the Veteran Health ID Card? The Department of Veterans Affairs notes that veterans have several ID cards offered to them.

For example, military retirees get a DoD ID indicating they have access to base privileges (BX, commissary, health clinics, etc.), those who choose to get Veteran indicators on their state-issued ID, even Common Access Cards or similar access control badges for those who need them for employment once they have retired or separated but still remain in federal service.

And then there is the Veteran Health ID Card (VHIC), which is just as important in its own way. The Department of Veterans Affairs advises that those enrolled in VA health care will be issued to you to use during check-ins when receiving care at a VA medical facility.

This card may also double as a form of veteran ID when claiming veteran-specific benefits at local businesses, big-box retail chains such as Target or WalMart, etc.


How To Get A Veteran Health ID Card

Veterans cannot be issued a VHIC without first enrolling in the VA health care system. You can sign up online at the VA official site. Only those enrolled in the VA health care system are eligible for the VHIC.

Electronic applications for VA health care benefits are available online, and you may also sign up for VA health care at the nearest VA medical facility.  Once your photo is taken, your health ID card will be processed and sent to you via U.S. Mail.

You will need to provide certain documentation when signing up for the VA health care system that includes but may not be limited to your most recent tax returns, Social Security Cards and/or numbers, and account numbers for any existing health insurance whether from your employer, from Medicare, or private insurance plans.

Valid ID Required

When signing up for the VHIC, veterans are required to provide one form of approved, current ID that may be one of the following:

  • Primary Identification (Unexpired)
  • State-Issued driver’s license
  • United States passport or passport card
  • Other unexpired government ID

Identification cards issued by federal, state or local government agencies are also permitted as long as the ID contains a photograph, full name, date of birth, and address. You may be required to provide further documentation of your current address depending on circumstances including an ID card with an outdated address, an ID card that has no address listed, etc.

The VA has a list of “acceptable address documents” that can include but may not be limited to:

  • Electric bill
  • Cable bill
  • “Other mailing document”
  • Voter registration card

Who is Eligible for VA Health Care and the VHIC?

Those who serve as active duty military members who retire or separate and do not have a discharge characterized as Dishonorable. You may also qualify as a current or former National Guard or Reserve member called to active duty by a federal order.

The requirements in this area include having served the full period ordered to active duty. Those activated only for training purposes do not qualify.

Other Rules for Qualifying for VA Health Care and A Veteran Health ID Card

Those who enlisted after September 7, 1980 or entered active duty after October 16, 1981 are required to have served “24 continuous months or the full period for which you were called to active duty,” unless any of the following apply:

  • The service member was discharged for a disability caused or aggravated by active-duty service.
  • The service member was given an early out or hardship discharge.
  • The service member was on duty before September 7, 1980.

Military members with punitive discharges such as Bad Conduct, Other Than Honorable, or Dishonorable discharges may be eligible for VA health care and the Veteran Health ID Card if they successfully navigate the discharge review process and have a Discharge Review Board upgrade the nature of the discharge to a non-punitive one.

If you must sign up for VA health care using a power of attorney, (POA) the VA advises for best results, include a copy of that POA along with your application documents.

How The Veteran Health ID Card Works

The first thing to consider is what the VHIC is NOT; it is not an insurance card; it cannot be used to pay for health care services and does not function as an insurance ID card. It also does NOT authorize care at non-VA or out-of-network facilities.

These are very important distinctions to make, especially when time is of the essence and the right ID is needed to obtain medical services and determine who pays for them.

The Veteran Health ID Card includes the following features as listed on the Department of Veterans Affairs official site. These features may be subject to change depending on mission needs, federal legislation, changes in VA policy, etc.

At the time of this writing, only those enrolled in VA health care will receive these cards, which include:

  • Privacy protection. “No personally identifiable information is contained on the magnetic stripe or barcode” of your VHIC according to the VA.
  • A DoD-created “personal identifier” code that helps the VA access your health records at the VA facility you where you are being treated.
  • Accessibility for the visually impaired; the card features Braille that can help users quickly locate and use the VHIC.
  • Anti-counterfeiting measures built-in to further secure your card.

Frequently Asked Questions About the Veteran Health ID Card

I Am Still Serving The U.S. Military. Can I Get A VHIC?

Those who have not retired or separated from military service should expect to apply for a VHIC once they are eligible to apply for VA health care services. The VA official site reminds, “The VHIC is issued only to Veterans who are enrolled in the VA health care system.”

How Long Does It Take To Get My Card?

According to the VA, once the photo is taken for your card, you should get it in the U.S. Mail in approximately ten working days.

Who Do I Contact To Check The Status Of My VHIC?

If you are concerned about delays or need to check the status of your card, call the local VA medical facility where you got your ID card photo taken, or contact the VA directly at 1-877-222-VETS (8387).

I Have An Old VHIC That Is Being Replaced. What Do I Do With The Old VHIC?

The Department of Veterans Affairs recommends destroying the card by cutting or shredding. The entire card should be destroyed as soon as possible once you get the replacement VHIC.

My VHIC Was Lost or Stolen. What Should I Do?

Call the local VA facility where you had your VHIC picture taken and request a new card. You can also contact the VA directly at 1-877-222-VETS (8387). Be prepared to identify yourself and furnish new ID information when reporting your lost or stolen card; have this information handy when you call.

Do I Need To Keep My TRICARE Cards or Other Healthcare ID?

Do not get rid of any other ID card for health care such as an insurance card, TRICARE where applicable, your DoD-issued ID, etc. The VHIC is only used to check in for care, not to pay or arrange payment, etc. It does NOT function as insurance or proof of insurance.

Military Pay Allotments

An allotment is a designated amount of money that is automatically distributed for you, from your pay. There are many reasons to have an allotment, including setting aside funds for family, paying off a loan from the military, or paying for your life insurance premiums. The following summarizes what you need to know about allotments:

There are two types of allotments: discretionary and non-discretionary. You can have up to six discretionary allotments per month, and any number of non-discretionary allotments, as long as the total allotments per month is 15 or less.

Your allotment is evenly divided between your semimonthly paychecks. For example: If you have an allotment of $100 it will reduce your take-home pay on the 1st and 15th by $50.

All active duty service members, midshipmen, cadets, and reservists on EAD are eligible to make allotments from their pay. In addition, to help servicemembers transition from active duty to retired status, retirees are eligible to continue all existing authorized allotments.

Discretionary Allotments

A discretionary allotment is a voluntary allotment that is setup by a member and may be stopped, started or adjusted at will. Members are authorized no more than six discretionary allotments.

Examples include, but are not restricted to, the following:

  • Payment of premiums for commercial life insurance on the member, the member’s spouse or children.
    • Eligible allotters are:
      • U.S. Government Life Insurance and National Service Life Insurance
      • Commercial insurers
      • Navy Mutual Aid
  • Voluntary payment to a dependent or other relatives.
  • Deposits to a financial institution, mutual fund company, or investment firm.
  • Payment of mortgage or rent.
  • Deposits into the DoD Savings Deposit Program.
  • Payments to the Air Force Enlisted Members Widow’s Home for Air Force members only.

Non-Discretionary Allotments

Non-discretionary allotments may be voluntary or involuntary and they cannot be started or stopped at the member’s will. Non-discretionary allotments of military pay and allowances by members in active military service are limited to the following:

  • Government Indebtedness
    • Voluntary liquidation of indebtedness to the U.S. including those incurred due to defaulted notes insured by the FHA or guaranteed by the VA or payment of amounts due under the Retired Serviceman’s Family Protection Plan.
    • Any other indebtedness to any department or agency of the U.S. Government (except to the military departments that pays the member).
    • Any repayment of debts owed to an organization for funds administered on behalf of the U.S. Government and any such debts assigned to a collection agency.
  • Purchase of U.S. savings bonds
    • The purchase of U.S. savings bonds is by Class B allotment. One year bond purchases cannot exceed $15,000. Series EE and I bonds are available.
  • Relief Repayments
    • Repayment of loans to the Army Emergency Relief, Navy and Marine Corps Relief Society, Air Force Aid Society, and American Red Cross.
  • Charity
    • Members are authorized to make charitable contributions by allotment to the Army Emergency Relief, Navy and Marine Corps Relief Society, or affiliates of the Air Force Assistance Fund.
  • Child and Spousal Support
    • When the member on extended active duty has failed to make support payments, a cognizant DFAS site with proper notification will start a statutorily-required child or child and spousal support allotment from the members pay and allowance.
  • Debts for Non-Discretionary Allotments
    • Payment of delinquent federal, state or local income or employment taxes.
    • Commercial Debt -When a member fails to pay debts owed to a commercial creditor, the creditor can make application for recovery of this debt.
    • Delinquent Travel Charge Card Debt -When a member fails to pay debts due on their charge card, the heads of agencies have authority, upon written request of a federal contractor, to collect the debt.
  • Assistance Funds
    • The Post-Vietnam Era Veteran’s Educational Assistance Program provides education assistance on a contributory basis to those eligible members entering the Armed Forces on or after January 1, 1977, and before July 1, 1985, who might otherwise be unable to obtain a higher education.

Restrictions:

  1. Power of Attorney – A general power of attorney is not allowed to establish, change or stop an allotment. A member must specifically designate a special power of attorney to make changes to allotments.
  2. Minors – Allotments (except bonds) are not made payable to children under 16.
  3. Mentally Incompetent Persons – Appointed guardians or the institution can receive an allotment where the mentally incompetent person is confined.
  4. Member Awaiting Trial by Court-Martial – Members cannot register allotments between the date that a court-martial is ordered and the date of the approval or disapproval of the sentence. Standing allotments are discontinued when it is necessary to permit the collection of the forfeiture in the monthly amount specified and the time limitation stated by the court-martial, or if the member is sentenced to forfeit all pay and allowances. Prisoners are able to register allotments if the amount of the pay and allowances not forfeited is sufficient to cover the deductions.
  5. Returned Absentee, Deserter, and Prisoner – Allotments are not registered for a returned absentee or deserter unless DFAS has verified the member’s pay status.
  6. Fraudulent Enlistment – Pay and allowances are not allotted when pay is suspended pending final action on determination of fraudulent enlistment.
  7. You cannot have discretionary allotments to purchase, lease, or rent personal property. Personal property includes vehicles, appliance, household goods, electronics, and all other consumer items that are tangible and movable.
  8. Reduced Pay of Allotter – Allotments are discontinued when a reduction in grade or stoppage of pay does not leave sufficient funds for allotments in force.

If you have an allotment question or problem, you should visit your local pay office with the question first. If your pay office can’t resolve the problem, it should officially refer your question to DFAS.

3 Major Life Changes to Consider Before a Deployment

While many military families try to prepare the best they can for a deployment, it‘s nearly impossible to know everything that might happen. Between “Murphy’s Law” and any major life changes that might come up, it’s easy to worry about how to be proactive in preparing for a deployment.

This unique article will give you plenty of tips on how to prepare for those crazy, last-minute, major life changes that military life can bring. Use the checklist below to make sure you are ready and prepared during that next deployment.

1. Financial Hardships

Sure, your spouse may be getting paid extra during a deployment, but that doesn’t mean that financial hardships won’t come up. During my husband’s first deployment, I got locked out of our joint bank account. Never in a million years did I think that would happen and I was definitely not prepared!

  • Who will be in charge of the finances?
    • Is there a budget in place?
    • How will you make it work?
    • What bills (mortgage/rent, car tags, insurance, etc.) will need to be paid and how will they be paid?
    • Are you saving for something special? (post-deployment vacation, Christmas presents for the kids, etc.)
  • What should you do during an emergency financial situation?
    • Should you take out a loan or borrow money from a friend or family member?
    • Are there any insurance policies you should put in place now in case of emergency?

2. Travel & Moving

  • Where will your family reside during deployment?
    • Will you be traveling?
    • Will you be staying with family for an extended period of time?
    • Will you be staying home the entire deployment?
    • Will someone be coming to stay with you and your family? For how long?
    • What will you do with pets while traveling?
  • Will you be PCSing or putting household items in storage?
    • Will you be moving or PCSing before, during, or after deployment?
    • Do you have valuable item insurance?
    • Will you be putting your household goods in storage?
    • How long will your items be in storage?
    • What time of the year will your items be in storage?
    • Will you be selling your house or renting it out?

3. Emergencies

Emergencies do happen, but how can you prepare for them? The key is thinking about what could happen depending on what state you live in, your living situation, and more. Here are just a few emergency scenarios you should discuss with your spouse before they leave on deployment:

  • What should you do if there is an emergency situation?
    • Break-in or unexpected home damage
    • Injury or death of a family member
    • Car accident
  • Who should be contacted if there is an emergency?
    • Have a list of family members and friends you can contact should there be an emergency. Is there someone you could stay with both in your city and out-of-state?
    • Have a list of phone numbers for doctors, your insurance company, and local emergency services (e.g., poison control)
  • What if there is a natural disaster (flood, fire, hurricane, tornado, earthquake)?
    • Do you know what to do should a natural disaster happen?
    • Do you have the proper insurance coverage should a natural disaster happen?
  • What if you or your teen is in a car accident or the car breaks down?
    • Do you know your auto insurance policy?
    • Do you know who you would call?
    • Do you have emergency road services through your insurance?
    • Do you have an emergency plan or medical information in the car?
    • Where should the car be towed to?
    • Does your auto insurance cover car rentals?

The list above is just a few of the major life changes that can happen during a deployment. Overwhelmed by this list? Don’t be! Make an emergency plan now before your spouse leaves. Create an emergency binder or folder and have your emergency contacts, doctor phone numbers, and insurance contracts ready to go.

How to Find Cheap Military Flights and Baggage Discounts

Military families are always on the go. That’s why they’re always on the lookout for cheap airline flights to make travel easier on their bank accounts.

One cheap way to fly is Space Available, or Space A. However, these flights frequently change and seats aren’t always available, so your schedule has to be very flexible.

Fortunately, there are several airlines that offer military discounts on airfare. Keep in mind that some of these discounts are unadvertised and may not be available online, so be prepared to call the airlines directly to ask about their military rates.

Whether you’re traveling on orders or for leisure, you can find discounted rates on flights as well as discounts on checked baggage with the following airlines. (And don’t forget that TSA also salutes the military by offering expedited screening. Learn more at the TSA website.)

Baggage

Alaska Airlines

Alaska Airlines offers active-duty military up to five free checked bags. This discount also applies to military dependents on travel orders.

Delta

Active-duty military personnel traveling on orders may check up to five bags in Delta One/First class and five bags in Basic Economy up to 100 pounds. On military orders, your bags can be 80 inches (total length + width + height). For personal travel, active military may also check up to three bags in Delta One/First class (up to 70 pounds) and two bags in Basic Economy (up to 50 pounds). For personal travel, your bags can be 62 inches (total length + width + height).

Allegiant Airlines

Allegiant offers active-duty military, Reservists and National Guard up to three pieces of checked baggage under 100 pounds for free and no charge for oversized checked baggage. Veterans and dependents of active-duty or Reserve military, and National Guard get up to three pieces of checked baggage under 40 pounds for free and no charge for oversized checked baggage.

JetBlue

Active military personnel and their dependents traveling on military orders are allowed to check five bags each at no additional cost. Active military personnel and their dependents traveling for leisure are allowed to check two bags each at no additional cost.

American Airlines

Active-duty military personnel traveling on orders can check up to five complimentary bags (up to 100 pounds). When traveling for pleasure, you can check up to three complimentary bags (up to 50 pounds). Military dependents traveling on orders have the same privileges as military personnel.

Airfare

Norfolk International Airport

The airlines serving Norfolk International Airport offer discounts to military travelers and their dependents. Call the airlines directly for information about schedules and fares and to make reservations.

Delta

Delta Air Lines has a long history of offering special rates for military personnel. They also offer special fares to family members traveling to meet an active-duty service member. Call their reservations team and ask for the military desk.

JetBlue

JetBlue’s MIL fare allows active-duty service personnel and their immediate family (spouses or children) to fly on JetBlue. Call 1-800-JETBLUE.

Southwest

Southwest offers military discounts to active military personnel and their families. Contact Southwest directly to take advantage of the discount.

7 Affordable Ideas for Military Care Packages

Care packages are the best way for loved ones to send a little piece of home to deployed service members. They’re also a fun way for families to stay connected while apart.

Unfortunately, collecting items to put into care packages can get expensive. But with some creativity and a little help from the discounts offered by your favorite stores, those care packages don’t have to make a huge dent in your budget. Here are 7 ideas to get you started:

1. Bake goodies.

Now that they’ve seen home through pictures, give service members a taste of home by baking some homemade yummies. But keep in mind that not all baked goods will survive the transit time and temperature changes en route to the care package’s final destination.

One way to overcome that is by baking a cake in a jar. This is basically a mini cake made inside a jar that promises to still be moist and delicious by the time it arrives on the other end.

Not a baker yourself? Cheryl’s Cookies and Brownies offers free shipping to APO/FPO addresses. Let them do the baking for you.

2. Contact the post office.

Before you can create a care package, you need shipping supplies. The United States Postal Service (USPS) offers a free “Military Care Kit” with the necessary supplies for sending packages overseas, including boxes, packing tape and customs forms. Visit the USPS website to get your free kit, which will be shipped to you and arrive at your doorstep within 5 to 7 business days. If you have any questions about what you can and can’t ship overseas, visit the USPS website.

3. Strike a pose.

What better way to send a little piece of home than to send pictures from home. Take pictures of the kids, the pets, the house, friends, anything you think your service member is missing.

How should you send them? You can send them the old-fashioned way by simply mailing prints of the pictures. If you plan to include a large number of photos, load them onto a USB flash drive. Join a photo-sharing site like Snapfish or Shutterfly and make albums, calendars and other gifts. Or you can load images on a digital picture frame so they can be easily displayed and viewed like a slideshow.

Want the photos you send to be professionally done? JCPenney offers military discounts at their portrait studios.

4. Pack non-perishables.

The best food to send is usually of the non-perishable variety, especially those snacks in cans or jars to prevent crushing. Beef jerky, tuna, trail mixes, Pringles, candy that won’t melt and well-packaged cookies and crackers are safe bets.

5. Provide entertainment.

Service members can always use entertainment when they have a chance to enjoy some down time. Include books, magazines and crosswords puzzles. Go to your local exchange and use their price matching policy for new ear buds, DVDs and iTunes gift cards. And check out Jo-Ann Fabrics, Michaels and A.C. Moore for pens, notepads, stationary and envelopes, the perfect hint for them to write letters back to you.

6. Personalize the package.

Homemade artwork from the kids is always a big care package hit. Not only is it a morale boost for your service member, but it also helps the kids stay connected with the parent they’re missing. Don’t forget to decorate the inside of the box!

Stock up on art supplies at Jo-Ann Fabrics, Michaels and A.C. Moore. You can also use those discounts to make care packages more festive for special occasions like birthdays, anniversaries and holidays.

If you’re a military spouse, are you sleeping in the last t-shirt he wore before he deployed because it smells like him? Well, he probably wants your scent close by too. Wear a shirt you know he likes on you or sleep on a pillowcase, then seal it in a Ziploc bag so he can get a whiff of home whenever he wants.

Your loved one may be far away, but care packages help make that distance feel a little bit smaller.

7. Include necessities.

Service members may have the ability to get toiletries and other necessities, but it might not be their favorite brands. Head over to a drug store and load up on shampoo, body wash, hand sanitizer, deodorant, sunscreen, toothpaste, lip balm, foot powder, throat lozenges, baby wipes and batteries. While you’re there, put some Ziploc bags in your shopping cart to house any items that could leak.

Troops Get Another Big Pay Raise in 2021 Budget Request

The proposed military pay raise for fiscal 2021 in the Defense Department’s budget request, released Monday, is 3%, the second-highest pay raise for troops since 2010.

The 3% raise, following 2020’s 3.1% bump, ensures that the troops will be “well compensated” and underlines DoD’s recognition that military and civilian personnel “are our most valuable resource” in carrying out the 2018 National Defense Strategy to counter China and Russia, according to the Pentagon’s budget overview. The total Pentagon budget request for fiscal 2021 totals $705.4 billion, part of a defense spending package with a $740 billion topline.

The overview said the raise is aimed at giving the military a “competitive compensation package” to offset the drain of highly-trained personnel to the civilian sector “even as the Department prioritizes funds toward the NDS.”

The raise is part of an $8.7 billion increase over the fiscal 2020 budget for wages and benefits, DoD said, and is expected to survive protracted and heated negotiations on the overall budget between Congress and the White House. If passed, the raise would go into effect next Jan. 1.

Although one-tenth of a percentage point below the 3.1% raise in fiscal 2020, the 2021 proposed raised still ranks as the second-highest pay increase since the 3.4% hike in 2010. Other pay increases since 2010 have ranged from 1% to 2.6%.

The bump is also in line with the 2.9% increase for civilian workers indicated by the latest quarterly report on the U.S. Employment Cost Index (ECI), put out by the Labor Department’s Bureau of Labor Statistics.

That figure does not limit the president, Congress and DoD in the final military pay raise proposal, but has traditionally served as a major factor in the final decision.

Last year’s pay raise meant about $815 more a year for junior enlisted troops. For senior enlisted and junior officers, the raise was about $1,500 more. For an O-4 with 12 years of service, the raise meant about $2,800 more.

The 2021 proposed raise would bring with it similar paycheck increases.

However, the latest pay raise could signal the last of the big pay increases as overall defense budgets are expected to enter a phase of leveling off or even declining, as Defense Secretary Mark Esper and other top DoD officials have warned.

“We have to brace ourselves that at best, defense spending will be level” in future years, Esper said last Thursday at the Johns Hopkins School for Advanced International Studies.

The requested increase would keep the pay for military personnel in line with increases in the civilian sector and serve to aid retention, said retired Air Force Col. Dan Merry, vice president of government relations at the Military Officers Association of America.

“Whatever the baseline increase” for the military, “it should be no less than that of the civilian population,” Merry said.

The raise would send a positive message to troops thinking of making a career of the military, and also to troops retiring next year, Merry said.

Retirement pay is based on the last year of service, and Cost of Living Increases (COLA) increases for retired personnel are then based on the Consumer Price Index, Merry said.

Here are the basic military pay raises going back to 2007, according to the Defense Department:

  • Jan. 2007: 2.2%
  • April 2007: 0.5%
  • 2008: 3.5%
  • 2009: 3.9%
  • 2010: 3.4%
  • 2011: 1.4%
  • 2012: 1.6%
  • 2013: 1.7%
  • 2014: 1%
  • 2015: 1%
  • 2016: 1.3%
  • 2017: 2.1%
  • 2018: 2.4%
  • 2019: 2.6%
  • 2020: 3.1%
  • 2021: 3%

Preventive Dental Care Can Dramatically Impact Your Health

Why Dental Care Matters

You know many tips to stay healthy, such as eating fruits and vegetables, exercising regularly, and getting enough sleep, but did you know that practicing proper preventive dental care can also dramatically impact your overall health? Healthy dental hygiene can reduce your risk of developing dental problems, which can be associated with additional health issues.

Take, for example, gum disease, which has been linked to oral cancer, heart disease, diabetes, respiratory ailments, preterm birth, skin diseases, thyroid problems, and leukemia (1). Preventive dental services and routine dental care are critical components in helping to prevent serious health issues. A recent study conducted by Dominion Dental Services found that preventive dental care can be associated with reduced emergency room visits and hospitalizations for people with chronic medical conditions (2).

Preventive Dental Care

Preventive dental care includes semi-annual dental checks-ups and routine dental care. At the dentist’s office, preventive care usually includes teeth cleanings, oral exams, X-rays and fluoride treatments for children. Some insurance plans offer members incentives to encourage wellness, help prevent future costly restorative work, and lower out-of-pocket costs. For example, Dominion Dental Services’ standard and high plans offer a Prevention Rewards Program, in which each family member who receives two cleanings during the plan year from a participating Dominion network dentist receives a $20 office copay reimbursement.

At home, preventive dental care consists of daily brushing, flossing, and eating a balanced diet. It’s essential to brush your teeth twice a day for two minutes and floss daily to prevent cavities and gum disease. Additionally, a balanced diet can protect your teeth by providing them with nutrients. Limiting your sugar intake and drinking plenty of water also helps to prevent cavities and promote healthy teeth.

Early Detection

While brushing teeth twice a day and flossing daily assist in the prevention of dental problems, semiannual dentist visits are also necessary as they promote early detection of dental issues that cannot be spotted at home. Early detection allows for timely treatment, which can help to avoid more serious and costly issues that could arise the longer a problem goes undetected. Dental insurance can encourage preventive dental care, and research suggests that people with dental coverage are twice as likely to visit a dentist than those without dental insurance (3).

Coverage for Non-Preventive Dental Care

While most dental plans cover preventive care at no charge, calculating out-of-pocket costs for non-preventive dental services differs depending on plan type.

A Dental Health Maintenance Organization (DHMO) plan includes predictable, pre-determined fees designed for transparency. In a DHMO plan, there are specific co-payments listed for each covered service. If you know the dental procedures you need to have completed, you will know exactly how much you will pay for your dental care before you even go to the dentist.

A Preferred Provider Organization (PPO) plan covers procedures at a co-insurance percentage. With a PPO plan, your out-of-pocket costs may not be immediately evident. For example, a major service like a crown may be covered at 50 percent. To calculate your actual cost, you will need to determine how much your dentist will charge you for that procedure under the contracted arrangement with the dental plan. It is also important to understand your plan’s annual maximum as your plan will only cover up to that amount each year. Dominion’s DHMO plans have no annual maximum limit to the number of services you receive each year.

Many dental carriers provide a comparison tool that will allow you to compare features and your cost for specific procedures.

2020 Open Enrollment

This year’s open enrollment season for choosing a dental plan runs from November 11, 2019, through midnight EST December 9, 2019, for coverage effective January 1, 2020. Retirees who are currently enrolled in a Federal Employees Dental and Vision Insurance Program (FEDVIP) plan will automatically continue enrollment into 2020. If you want to cancel or change your dental plan in any way, you must contact BENEFEDS during open enrollment.

Ready to Learn More About Dental Coverage? Dominion Dental Services is the only HMO plan offered through the FEDVIP program. It has no annual maximums, deductibles or waiting periods.

1. According to the American Dental Hygienists’ Association (2008) and Gust in, K.M. (2006, Dec.). Discussing ; ; Dental. National Provisioner. 220(12). 26-29.

2. Dominion Dental Services, Capital BlueCross and Geneia Medical/Dental Integration Study, July 2015-June 2017.

3. National Association of Dental Plan. The Haves and Have-nots: Consumer With and Without Dental Benefits. February 2009.

4.  National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Diabetes, Gum Disease, & Other Dental Problems, 2019, niddk.nih.gov/health-information/diabetes/overview/preventing-problems/gum-disease-dental-problems.

5. American Dental Association. Pregnant? 9 Questions You May Have About Your Dental Health, 2019, mouthhealthy.org/an/pregnancy-slideshow.

At-Risk Populations

Preventive dental care is especially critical for at-risk populations, which includes people with diabetes and expectant mothers. For example, diabetics are at a higher risk for gum disease, and other oral health issues such as thrush and dry mouth, which can cause soreness, ulcers, infection and cavities (4). Additionally, it is estimated that up to 50% of pregnant women develop pregnancy gingivitis and dentists may recommend an additional cleaning to help manage it (5). Due to the higher risk for these populations, some dental plans such as Dominion Dental Services, provide these groups with an extra cleaning. If you are a diabetic or expectant mother, you may want to select a dental plan that covers an additional cleaning.