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Maximizing The Five Best Military Service Benefits

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cc licensed flickr photo shared by The U.S. Army

People work to support their families and lifestyles. Consequently, there is an expectation benefits will follow. Many excellent benefits packages exist but finding one that equals or exceeds those associated with military service is impossible. For military personnel, special attention should be given to maximizing the five biggest benefits available: compensation, education, home loans, health care, and post-service job search assistance.

Military Compensation

Military compensation is determined by various factors. Military personnel are not paid hourly and they are not paid a set salary until their next evaluation. Compensation consists of different types of pay that change. All members receive Basic Pay. A Basic Housing Allowance is determined by the duty location and a Basic Subsistence Allowance can be added. If the duty location changes, the BHA can change depending on the new housing market. Cost of Living Allowance raises can be given depending on location. Special Pay is for hazardous specialties such as combat or flight duty. Finally, compensation increases due to promotions, longevity, and raises. Working hard for promotions, completing multiple enlistments, and Special Pay jobs can maximize compensation.

Educational Benefits

The Servicemen’s Readjustment Act of 1944 (known as the GI Bill) was enacted in part to educate military members returning from WWII so jobs would be possible for them. Benefits such as low-cost mortgages were also included. Eventually, the Act would be revised and would include military members that were never involved in overseas conflict. In exchange for military service, the Bill makes post-secondary education a reality for those that might not have educational opportunities beyond high school. Maximizing this benefit only requires that members continue their education to the greatest extent possible given the benefits of the Bill.

Home Buying Benefits

Another GI Bill benefit is the VA loan. These loans finance up to 100% of the price of a home up to a specified limit provided the house appraises at or above the price. By presenting their Certificate of Eligibility, servicemembers can take advantage of the benefit. The certificate is reusable as houses are sold and others bought. Therefore, large down payments are not necessary. To maximize this benefit, military members should buy and not rent if possible.

Health Care Benefits

Military health care benefits often have some costs. However, the costs are less than those paid by civilians. In many cases, health care treatment is free. Duty stations having medical facilities usually only require that military members and dependents present military IDs to receive treatment. For areas without facilities or specialized treatment, various TRICARE plans are available to help with such expenses. To maximize the health care benefit, the appropriate TRICARE plan should be chosen based on family needs and preventative health care should be utilized.

Post-Military Job Search Benefits

Eventually, servicemembers leave the military. Some retire, others see it as an opportunity for a second career. Many take civilian jobs in government agencies and military branches. The military works hard to assist former members in obtaining employment. Many government jobs recognize preferential hiring of vets if all other qualifications of candidates are equal. The military also works hard to place disabled vets in rewarding jobs. Emphasis is given to transitioning from the military to another job. Job fairs and career centers are also available.

The benefits associated with a job consist of more than pay. The financial equivalent of non-pay benefits added to monetary compensation increases the value of a job substantially. By maximizing benefits, even greater value is possible. Military benefits are the best available and make it possible for servicemembers to support their families and their lifestyles.

James Walton is a military historian and guest author at Military Degree Programs , a site with guides and information about military degrees that can be read here.

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