When you were engaged to the man who would become your husband, you understood that committing to him meant committing to the military. As an enlisted service member, your husband dedicated his life to protecting the country’s interests. As a military spouse, you dedicated your life to keep your family on an even keel when he was deployed. Tending to the needs of your children, minding the finances, and providing a warm welcome upon his return, you never clocked out of your job. A good deal of your husband’s success relied upon your fulfilling the role of the family rock and your ability to perform the tasks of both parents in his absence.
Now that you have decided to divorce your husband, you have concerns about leaving the military as well. The military benefits you and your family received helped your family remain financially solvent during tough times. Starting over without this aid will add strain to an already precarious situation. For many military spouses, benefits are not terminated upon the dissolution of a marriage. The military recognizes and rewards those whose service on the home front encouraged success on the battlefront.
Depending on the length of your marriage, you may be eligible to continue to receive medical benefits through the military. These three options are available to former spouses:
1. Continued coverage under TRICARE
For former spouses who qualify under the 20/20/20 rule, they may continue to receive TRICARE until they or their former spouse remarries. To qualify for this coverage, the marriage must have extended to 20 years; the former spouse must have served for at least 20 years, and the marriage and military career must have overlapped for at least 20 years.
2. Temporary coverage under TRICARE
In order to qualify for at least one year of TRICARE benefits, former spouses must fulfill the requirements of the 20/20/15 rule. These temporary benefits are awarded to those who meet the first two requirements of the 20/20/20 rule but can report 15 years of concurrent military service and marriage.
3. DOD Continued Health Care Benefit Program (CHCBP)
For those whose marriages or former spouse’s length of service do not meet the requirements of either rule, temporary health care benefits are available through CHCBP. Former military spouses can register for these benefits 60 days after they lose military benefits. These health benefits can be extended for three years.
As with many instances of military life, the government requires specific forms to be submitted in order for benefits to be awarded. Those interested in receiving aid in navigating the military healthcare system previous to divorce are advised to seek the counsel of a knowledgeable attorney.