Our lives have been disrupted since September 11, 2001, as a result of the Global War on Terror and its accompanying operations. The unknowns of local, regional, and international deployments have tested our resilience. You and your loved one may confront difficulties similar to those encountered during active military service whether your service member is supporting an overseas military operation, serving in a local or regional location, or training in a local armory or reserve center.

Because of their unusually widespread geographical dispersion, many Guard and reserve families often find it challenging to learn about and, in some circumstances, actually make use of available perks. Furthermore, it may be more challenging to gain access to a variety of services that are typically accessible at active-duty stations.

If a service member or their family member has any queries regarding their benefits or entitlements, or if they need help finding the right person to talk to, this article will be a great resource.

To get the whole family ready, you need to make some serious preparations. The internet and toll-free phones have made it much simpler to get hold of important data, but we still need to prioritize going up the unit’s chain of command whenever we can. This manual is simply another resource we’re using in our never-ending quest to make our families more secure. Our service is geared around being there for you at any given time.

Health care benefits


Family members of service personnel may be eligible for TRICARE coverage, depending on the nature of the service member’s current duty assignment. Medical and dental care services are provided to uniformed service members and other beneficiaries of the Department of Defense (DOD) under the TRICARE program.

The Department of Defense wants everyone to know that they respect their choice in health care. If a service member has a civilian job or other health insurance, they should discuss their options for coverage with their spouse.

Each branch of the armed forces is responsible for determining TRICARE eligibility and reporting that information to the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System. DEERS must be used to track the eligibility status of all potential recipients.

There are two primary types of TRICARE recipients, sponsors, and family members. In most cases, sponsors are either currently serving in the military or are veterans or members of the National Guard or Reserves. “Sponsor” means a current or former member of the United States Armed Forces, whether in the Regular Army, the Reserves, or the National Guard. Members of the Army National Guard, Navy Reserve, Marine Corps Reserve, Air National Guard, Air Force Reserve and U.S. Coast Guard Reserve are included in the term “National Guard and reserve.”

While on active duty or soon upon activation, Individual Ready Reserve members are eligible for full TRICARE benefits, including the Dental Program.

Depending on the sponsor’s current military status, he or she may have access to different health and dental care choices for the service member and their family.

In the military for less than a month

TRICARE Reserve Select is a premium-based, optional health plan for the sponsor and family that some service members are eligible to purchase. Members of the National Guard and Reserve who participate in traditional military drills are eligible for the TRICARE Reserve Select health care program. If the service member is hurt or sick while on the job or even on the way to or from work, they may be eligible for Line Duty Care. The TRICARE Dental Program is available to the sponsor and their family for dental care needs. Each of you must sign up independently and pay your own monthly subscription.

When on duty for more than 30 days in a row


The service member is entitled to the same medical and dental care as active-duty personnel after being called or ordered to active duty for more than 30 consecutive days under federal rules. As soon as the service member arrives at his or her final duty post, he or she will sign up for one of the following Prime options:

  • TRICARE Primary Care Services
  • Control for TRICARE Prime
  • TRICARE Prime International
  • Military Prime Remote Overseas Coverage

When a military member is summoned to active duty, their TRICARE Dental Program enrollment is automatically canceled. The service member is now eligible for dental care through the TRICARE Active Duty Dental Program and military dental treatment facilities.

When a service member serves on active duty for more than 30 days in a row, his or her family members are entitled to the same TRICARE benefits as active-duty family members. Depending on where the family resides at the time of the service member’s activation, they may enroll in one of the following plans:

  • TRICARE Primary Care Services
  • There are three types of TRICARE Prime: TRICARE Prime Overseas, TRICARE Prime Remote, and TRICARE Standard or Extra.
  • The United States Department of Defense’s (DOD) Military Health Insurance Program offers two plans for American families: TRICARE Prime for Remote Service Members Abroad and TRICARE
  • Care for Young Adults in TRICARE (for dependent adult children up to age 26)

Families of military personnel who participate in the TRICARE Dental Program get continuous coverage at the lower “active duty family member” rate of premiums. They can join the TRICARE Dental Program whenever they choose if they haven’t already.

Provisional or “early” qualification

If a member of the National Guard or Reserve is called to active duty for more than 30 consecutive days in support of a contingency operation, they may be eligible for active-duty TRICARE benefits up to 180 days early. There is a grace period of up to 180 days before reporting for active service known as the “pre-activation benefit,” which begins on the date orders are issued.

Service personnel is considered “active-duty service members” and are eligible for active-duty medical and dental benefits during the pre-activation period. Members of the military and their families who qualify for TRICARE are known as “active duty family members” and are offered enrollment in TRICARE Prime, as well as access to TRICARE Standard and Extra.

When members get their active-duty orders with a delayed effective date, the service personnel office will let them know if they are qualified for pre-activation benefits. Your coverage (and that of your family) will begin on the first day of the service member’s orders if the service member does not meet these “early eligibility” standards.

Being off-duty


If the service member was called to active duty in support of a contingency operation, the family’s health plan options may change after the service member departs active duty, or deactivates. If deployed for an emergency operation:

  • The Transitional Assistance Management Program instantly begins covering the Sponsor for a period of 180 days. After a military member’s last day of active duty, TAMP coverage begins. During the time of TAMP, family members are also covered.
  • After TAMP finishes, service members who meet the requirements can apply for TRICARE Reserve Select.
  • The Continued Health Care Benefit Program is an alternative to TRICARE Reserve Select for those who aren’t eligible for the program.
  • During TAMP, service personnel can still use their active-duty dental benefits. If you were enrolled in the TRICARE Dental Program before TAMP ended, your coverage will restart after TAMP finishes, and your monthly charges will resume for the next 12 months.
  • Coverage for the service member’s family in the TRICARE Dental Program remains in effect without interruption, but premium payments revert to the former rates.

Active-duty benefits (including dental) cease immediately if the service member was not activated in support of a contingency operation, and the family is not eligible for TAMP.

When a service member leaves active duty


TRICARE Retired Reserve is an option for retired service members to acquire health insurance for themselves and their families. When you reach age 60 and start receiving retired pay, you are entitled to the same benefits as any other retired military member.

Once a member retires, they and their families can sign up for dental care coverage through the TRICARE Retiree Dental Program.

Additionally, TRICARE Young Adult is available to “age-out” children who are 21 (or 23 if attending college full-time).

The option to purchase eye and dental insurance

Federal Employees Dental and Vision Insurance Program offer dental and vision insurance to retirees and their families, as well as members of the National Guard and Reserve Components who are registered in TRICARE Reserve Select. FEDVIP is an optional service that gives TRICARE members access to a variety of dental and vision insurance providers. The prices and scope of coverage provided by the various FEDVIP options change widely. It is recommended that retirees sign up for FEDVIP within the first 60 days of their retirement. If you’re qualified, you can also sign up for FEDVIP in the fall.