Military Programs and Benefits

Learn about services available for military members and their families, such as tuition assistance, the GI Bill and other Department of Veterans Affairs education aid programs, life insurance, and survivor benefit plans.

Military Assistance Programs for Servicemembers and Their Families

Military OneSource

You can find free, confidential help with any aspect of military life at Military OneSource. This Department of Defense-funded program offers counseling and information for servicemembers and their families in areas such as:

Call Military OneSource 24 hours a day, seven days a week, at 1-800-342-9647. Visit the Contact Us page for international dialing instructions or for help calling from your computer.

Consumer Protection for Servicemembers and Veterans

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau helps military families and veterans with financial issues that affect them. Visit its site to:

  • Submit complaints.

  • Learn about scams that target military and veterans.

  • Find state financial protection resources.

National Resource Directory

Search the National Resource Directory to find help with employment, health, homelessness, housing, caregiver support, and other issues. The directory connects wounded warriors, servicemembers, veterans, families, and caregivers with local support resources.

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Life Insurance and Survivor Benefits for Servicemembers and Veterans

Life Insurance

If you are in the military, you are automatically signed up for servicemembers life insurance. You can purchase veterans life insurance for a limited time after you are discharged.

Survivor Benefits Plan for Military Retirees

Your pension ends when you die unless you sign up for the Survivor Benefit Plan when you retire.

If you are the survivor of a Department of Defense military retiree, promptly report the death to the Defense Finance and Accounting Service (DFAS). If you are the survivor of a Coast Guard retiree, contact the Coast Guard Pay & Personnel Center.

Benefits for Survivors of Veterans

You may qualify for (VA) survivor benefits if:

  • You are the survivor of a servicemember or veteran whose death is service-related.
  • You are the dependent of a servicemember or veteran whose total disability is service-related.

You may also qualify for CHAMPVA. It is a health care program in which the VA shares the costs of services and supplies with eligible beneficiaries.

If you are a Survivor Benefit Plan beneficiary, you may also be eligible for VA benefits.

For more information, contact the VA.

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Educational Benefits for Servicemembers, Veterans, and Their Families

Military Tuition Assistance

Current servicemembers can attend college in their off-duty time and have their military branch pay the tuition.

GI Bill and Other VA Education Programs

If you were or are in the military, you may be eligible for Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) education benefits. If you are a spouse or dependent, you may be eligible too.

Forever GI Bill Makes Big Changes to Education Benefits

The Harry W. Colmery Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2017, also known as the Forever GI Bill, significantly changes many veterans education benefits. Most changes expand or improve upon existing benefits. Highlights include:

  • Restoring education benefits to many who lost them due to recent school closures or disapprovals

  • Eliminating the 15-year time limit for those who left active duty on or after January 1, 2013

Many other changes are in effect or coming. See a detailed list of changes.

Learn About Education Benefits

Visit to:

  • Learn about the GI Bill and other education benefits programs.

  • Explore options for classroom and virtual training.

  • Get career counseling.

  • Find the right school or training program for you.

Apply for Education Benefits

You can apply for education benefits online, in person or by phone.

Servicemembers Opportunity Colleges (SOC)

Servicemembers Opportunity Colleges (SOC) can help you get your degree despite frequent military transfers. These civilian colleges and universities:

  • Simplify credit transfers and reduce residency requirements (the credits required to earn a degree at a given school)

  • Give classes on or near military installations in the U.S., overseas, and on military ships

  • Offer distance learning programs

  • Offer degrees that match your military job

  • Are open to servicemembers and their families

For more information, talk to your unit's education officer.

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Commissaries and Exchanges for Military Families

If you are a military member, military retiree or family member of either, you can shop for less at the commissaries and exchanges on posts and bases.

Commissaries are grocery stores. They sell food and household items at cost plus 5 percent—about 30 percent less than most supermarkets.

Exchanges are like department stores. They sell clothing, electronics, home furnishings, etc.

  • They don’t charge sales tax.
  • Most have dry cleaners, barbershops, food courts, and more nearby.

Find an exchange in the U.S. or abroad:

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Last Updated: June 18, 2018