When We are the Ones Away
Basic training, schools, deployments, special assignments, unaccompanied tours...the list of ‘reasons my service member spouse is gone’ can get pretty lengthy. As life goes on around us, there may also be times when we are the ones who are away. Just because our spouse is in the military, doesn’t mean life around us stands still. There are still important family milestones, trips, weddings, funerals, or simply a pull to go on an adventure that we can’t ignore! As life goes on, there are times when we are the ones who chose to be the ones ‘away.’ It sounds simple, but there are a few things to keep in mind when getting ready to go on an extended trip while your service member continues to answer the call.
What About Tricare?
In my experience, it’s inevitable. Every time we go on an extended trip to visit family someone gets ill or injured. Murphy’s Law is real! What do you do in the event someone is in need of medical care and you aren’t near your duty station? When in doubt, call Tricare! Especially for non-emergency situations. They can give advice or a list of accepted providers in the area and further instruction. For emergency situations, visit the closest emergency room. After the visit, give Tricare a call and discuss the situation with them. An emergency visit is the way to go in the event you or a family member needs immediate care. Be sure to take your military ID with you, even if the nearest hospital is not on an installation, it will serve as your insurance card/proof of insurance for the providing physicians.
Do My Bags Get Checked for Free?
If you are flying to your destination, one of the biggest questions is if spouses get their bags checked for free, as most airlines allow service members a free checked bag. Short answer--not usually. It is always worth asking at the counter; but always be prepared to pay the airline’s checked baggage fee. While some ticket counter employees will give spouse’s a checked bag, it is not a requirement that they do this. Check, but always be financially prepared to pay--and don’t forget to smile! Even if it is frustrating, remember it is the airline’s policy and not the ticket counter clerk’s responsibility.
Can We Stay in Military Lodging On Our Trip?
Even when traveling without your service member, you are able to stay in military lodging across the country! Some locations overseas do restrict guests to those with in-country orders, such as Garmisch in Germany, however, lodging on posts stateside allow families so long as the lodging has vacancies. This is also a great way to save some money on lodging during your travels as on-post lodging is often less expensive than other hotels.
Should I Feel Guilty My Service Member Couldn’t Come?
The answer...No! Don’t feel guilty. Often times, our service members are happy that we are able to be there for our friends and family in other places, even if they are not able to be. Don’t miss out! Discuss the trip with your spouse and plan ahead. Just like when they are the ones away, communication is key prior to a trip. Sometimes, our needs to be away are unplanned--like the need to become a caretaker for a family member or visiting due to a death in the family. Other times, the happy life events are things we don’t want to miss! Like a friend or family members wedding, the birth of our best friend’s child, or our grandparent’s 50th anniversary.
Just because our spouse is a service member, doesn’t mean we have to miss out on the big events in life. With the knowledge above you can easily plan for the times when you are the one away! And, per usual, you can absolutely rock it!