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Before Andy and I got married, I was so overwhelmed at everything we needed to do. I searched through various blogs and websites but never quite found a list that I loved that suited my needs as both a newlywed and new Army wife… so I decided to make my own! It encompasses all of the things we did in regards to legally recognizing this marriage, both general and military-specific, as well as things we did in regards to our move and my name change. It won’t work for everyone, so adapt according to your needs! If your soldier is OCONUS (outside the continental US), there will be additional things you will need to do to be approved for command sponsorship to join him.
Get on the base housing list
Andy and I did this about 30 days before the wedding, although I’ve heard at some bases you can do this 60 days in advance. Since Andy and I weren’t officially married when he was added to the list– and as a single enlisted soldier, was required to live in the barracks– they didn’t have to add us to the list until we were officially married. Some posts, like ours, will add you if you’re planning to marry as long as you promise to stop by with your 1172 form and marriage license as soon as the military officially recognizes your marriage. Otherwise, it could take months before you’re able to secure a house on base.
For us, we had a house waiting for us after the wedding, but due to the move-out timeline for the previous family plus cleaning timeline for the housing department, we weren’t able to move into our house until 6 weeks after the wedding. Thankfully, we had planned ahead and secured a short-term rental apartment off-post that would suffice until we could get into our house.
Get a certified copy of your marriage license
Since Andy and I were married on a Sunday and didn’t leave for our honeymoon until Tuesday, we dropped off our marriage license in-person on Monday morning so we could get our certified copies of marriage licenses ASAP instead of waiting for them to arrive in the mail. The county clerk’s office in my hometown noticed that Andy is in the military, and gave us 4 additional copies at no charge. We actually planned an extra day in between the wedding and leaving for our honeymoon for this exact purpose, plus to just rest and leisurely drive the 2 hours to the airport. We loved being able to sleep in, stop at my favorite donut shop for breakfast, go to my mom’s house to drop off my wedding dress and open our wedding presents, and get our marriage certificate so we wouldn’t need to make another trip home immediately after the honeymoon. I highly recommend getting at least 5 certified copies because many places on post will want an original.
Go to Installation ID Facility for military ID card, enrollment in DEERS, and a 1172 form for housing
This was pretty simple, we just needed a copy of my driver’s license, social security card, and marriage license as well as Andy’s military ID. Your military ID will be created in your maiden name, and you’ll need to come back after your name change with the Social Security office and DMV to get a new military ID (if you choose to change your name.) If your spouse is unable to be with you for your second trip for a new ID you’ll also need to get a Power of Attorney allowing you to go by yourself from the JAG office or the Installation ID Facility can issue a similar form. At this time, we also registered me in DEERS (Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System) and got the 1172 form to give to housing to make us “officially” on the housing wait list.
Update SGLI and DD93 at Battalion S1 shop or In/Out Processing
I’m not sure about other units, but for Andy’s unit, they prefer that soldiers update this info at the S1 shop. We actually did this at In/Out Processing since we were already there and they suggested we take care of it then. SGLI is the Servicemember’s Group Life Insurance, so updating this meant we switched the beneficiary to me instead of his parents should something happen to my husband. The DD93 is the Emergency Contact form as well as the form where you indicate who is to receive the death gratuity (for more info read this Military.com article), any unpaid pay or allowances such as basic pay, BAH, or BAS, and the remains of the service member. It’s definitely heartwrenching to talk about these things so soon after getting married, but it’s best to be prepared in case of the worst.
Add new spouse to military member’s bank account
Since Andy banks through Navy Federal Credit Union, I wasn’t able to be added to his account until I was legally a military dependent or could prove that Andy and I were living in the same household… which was impossible, since he was required to “officially” live in the barracks. Somehow spending every weekend at my mom’s house in Owensboro isn’t enough to claim residency, who knew? 😉 Anyways, if you’re choosing to combine bank accounts, you’ll want to do this as well. As a side note, don’t forget all of the memberships and purchases that auto-drafted from your previous bank account, like Netflix and the like.
Enroll in Tricare/establish medical records at military clinic/obtain new PCM/transfer prescriptions
We enrolled me in Tricare Prime as well as signed up for Tricare’s dental plan (at the time it was serviced through MetLife, but will be updating to United Concordia on May 1, 2017.) After obtaining a new primary care manager at the on-post health facilities, I arranged to have my previous medical records sent to the clinic (the clinic gave the originals back to me once they updated their system.) I also made an appointment with my new primary care manager for an initial visit plus to get my prescriptions ordered, so I could utilize the on-post pharmacy. (This was of the utmost importance for me, because no babies here!!)
After your name change:
Update your Social Security card
I waited about 2 months after the wedding to take care of this, because I wanted the new Social Security card to be mailed to my new house instead of my mom’s house (which would have required an extra trip to pick it up) or to the short-term apartment (where it would have gotten lost in the mail.) They gave me a letter that showed my new name, which would allow me to update my driver’s license the following day.
Update driver’s license
I went on a Friday to update my Social Security card and then went to update my driver’s license the following Monday so the system could have time to update overnight. I was updating both my name and address at this time, so in addition to my marriage license and Social Security letter, they needed to see some proof of my new address. Despite the Social Security letter having my new address listed, they wanted to see some other proof of my new address like a utility bill, mortgage agreement, or lease agreement. After explaining to the clerk that I didn’t have a mortgage agreement or utility bill since we live in on-post housing, she graciously allowed me to update my address anyway. Had I known in advance, I would have taken a copy of the lease agreement with me (that was signed with my maiden name.)
Update military ID (again)
This is where the Power of Attorney comes in handy! Unfortunately, I didn’t get a Power of Attorney for a while, so I had to wait until Andy had time to go to Installation ID Facility with me. Easier said than done! It took a full month to finally get around to updating this. At this time we also updated our address in the DEERS system.
Update bank accounts/cards
You’ll want to take your marriage certificate in because that is the “last” official document you most likely have with your maiden name on it. However, since I was slow in updating my military ID, that sufficed to show my “old” identity while I used my driver’s license to show my “new” identity. I updated my bank account with my new name, but somehow forgot to change my debit cards over which I only discovered last week! You’ll also want to update your bank account with your new address, if you moved after the wedding.
Update SGLI and DD93 (again)
Your soldier’s SGLI and DD93 most likely listed the beneficiary (you, the spouse!) under your maiden name. If you changed your name or moved, then you’ll need to update both the beneficiary’s name and address. It seems repetitive, but will most likely save you a headache in the future!
I didn’t get around to this until 9 months after the wedding, because it was expensive! If your passport is less than one year old, you can do this for free but will still be required to submit a new passport photo, your marriage license, and original passport. My passport was 5 years old, so I had to pay for a new passport like I was just renewing it. I still had to submit my marriage license and original passport to change my name.
If you don’t already have a passport, I highly suggest getting one just in case. I have a friend who made a spontaneous trip around the world to see her husband during a port call during his deployment, but hadn’t yet updated her passport with her married name; she had to pay $500 to expedite it so it would arrive in time for her trip. (Yikes!!) Even if you aren’t planning a trip anywhere soon, it will be one less thing to worry about when you do need it!
Update membership accounts like hotel and store rewards programs
For the ones like my hotel and airline accounts, I updated these immediately because if I needed to utilize them I would need to show an ID and I had no ID’s left with my maiden name. Each hotel and airline vary on what documents they will want to see to switch it over. It took me longer to change the store accounts I have and I did this only because I was sick of getting coupons from Kroger with my maiden name on them!
Update your name and/or address with your employer
As a both a Human Resources and a tax professional, this is one I can’t stress enough! You want to make sure your W-2’s arrive in the mail on time so you can file your taxes without any issues. If you’re currently employed at the organization, you will need to update your I-9 (most employers will not update your name in the HRIS system– aka how they will print your W-2– until your I-9 has been updated.) I can’t speak for any other organizations, but mine needed to see the original driver’s license and Social Security card (copies do not suffice!) to update names. I was in the unique situation of leaving both of my jobs prior to being married, so I only had to update my address with them. (They couldn’t change my name in the system since I wasn’t employed by them when I went by that name.)
Did I leave anything off of the list?