MilSpouse Q & A

What is “Mess Night” and are spouses invited to attend?

Shawn: “Mess Night”  is the name for a command social function.  A Mess Night can be either a Dining “In” where just the members of the command without guests attend or a Dining “Out” which include individual guests, such as spouses.

Sheri: “Mess Night” is a formal dinner for service members “of the mess”.  Specific traditions are followed during Mess Night making it a very special event.  In our aviation community, there were “Dining Ins” which was the name for a dinner event for service members only.  We also had “Dining Outs” which were events for service members and their dates.  Your sailor will let you know when an event includes dates and when it is only for service members.

My spouse and I were invited to an event but I’m confused about what to wear. What does “civilian informal” mean?

Gina: Contact a friend / spouse who lives or has lived in that area before and/or who has been to the same event before.  Civilian informal means different things in different places.

Jen: In my experience, the topic of what to wear and the military definitions on invitations is probably one of the most confusing things we face as a spouse! The definition can reflect the personal style of the command, a regional preference and sometimes minute idiosyncrasies! For instance: Aloha - (Hawaiian shirts un-tucked and flip flops or sandals) Aloha Casual (Hawaiian shirts un-tucked and deck shoes), Aloha Crisp (Hawaiian shirts tucked in, with a belt and deck shoes and maybe socks, depending on the event), and that is only for the service member!!! The best thing to do is to check with the person to whom you sent the RSVP, the EA or Protocol Officer, they can tell you exactly what to wear. It is also fine to check with other attendees. I would choose to err on over, not under dressed.

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MilSpouse Q & A

Does OPSEC apply to Facebook? I’m concerned about some of the things my friend is posting but I don’t want to say something and blow it out of proportion. What should I do?

Gina: Yes, OPSEC does apply!

Jen: OPSEC applies to everything! Everyone should be mindful to keep operational information out of all public communications. If you feel someone is revealing too much, speak to them directly, reminding them they are putting all of our sailors and warriors at risk. You can also alert the CMC/COB spouse or a spouse in the wardroom, who will quietly speak with the person.

Check out the Navy’s OPSEC SnapShot for more information.

Am I eligible to speak to the Chaplain about a personal issue? My spouse is active duty and currently deployed. Will his command be informed?

Nikki: Yes, you are. Your visit is confidential unless you share that you may harm yourself.

Shawn: Yes, you as a spouse can speak to a Navy Chaplain as they are also permitted to provide pastoral care. Any information or counseling you receive is completely confidential unless it is information that involves harm to yourself or others.

MilSpouse Q & A

Our sailor will be heading out to sea very soon. As his family, are we allowed to send mail while the ship is underway or deployed?

Tamara: Of course!  Sailors love to receive mail and packages from home.  Be sure to get his or her complete address.  Overseas postage rates do not apply as all mail goes through the fleet post office.  Please be aware that there will be times mail is delayed due to the ship’s movement.

Sheri: YES!  Your sailor will provide you with a ship or shore address and will appreciate as much “snail mail” and packages as you want to send.  You can use flat rate boxes provided by the post office.  Remember that your sailor may be too busy to write to you, but he or she will LOVE hearing about even the little things that go on around home.  Don’t be afraid to be “newsy”; share everything!

Mercedes: Yes.  If your sailor doesn’t provide you with their mailing address check out the ship’s Facebook page or website for the mailing address.  Both resources will have contact information for the command OMBUDSMAN (a fancy term meaning ship to family and family to ship communicator) and he/she will be able to assist you in many ways.

My boyfriend just let for boot camp. I think about him all day long and can’t stop crying. Is this going to get easier?

Gina: Stay busy, stay positive and vent with a trusted friend.  But, put yourself in his place…he will want to know you miss him but not to the point of having him worry.

Jen: Boot camp is like any other separation you might experience in a relationship. Admittedly, the fact that it is attached to the Military makes it seem more dire. Long distance relationships can foster fears that create strains which are not good for either of you. He misses you also, but he has his hands full both physically and mentally. Focus on being a good support to your boyfriend, be positive when talking, emailing or Skyping. Find someone who can be your support; other military spouses or girlfriends, family or pastor. Boot camp is usually about 8 weeks long, count off the days, plan a big celebration for his graduation/Pass and Review and homecoming, it will be over before you know it.

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Top 10 Things All New Navy Spouses Should Do

Lt. Kelly Lanning and his new wife, Megan O’Brien

1. Ask your spouse to enroll you into the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System (DEERS).

  • All spouses of services members are eligible for TRICARE, the military healthcare system, but they must be enrolled in DEERS to qualify.
  • Locate your local ID Card Office.
  • Bring a copy of your marriage certificate.

2. Obtain a military identification from your local ID Card Office.

  • This is necessary in order to receive the benefits of a military spouse. The identification card will allow you access to the base, military exchanges, commissaries and it is your medical card.
  • Locate your local ID Card Office.
  • Bring your birth certificate, marriage license, photo identification and Department of Defense Form (DD) 1172, filled out by your spouse.
  • All family members age 10 and older must have a military identification card.

3. Register your car on base.

  • Locate your base Security Office
  • Expect to bring your driver’s license, car registration and proof of insurance.
  • Check to see if you are expected to bring any additional papers.

4. Ask your spouse to list you as a beneficiary on their Serviceman’s Group Life Insurance (SGLI).

  • This is done by your spouse updating his or her DD Form 93

5. Memorize your spouse’s social security or military identification number.

  • Your spouse’s number will be used as your insurance number and allow you to receive other military benefits.

6. Know your sailors rank, rate, the department or division they work in, along with their email address, mailing address and the name of their command.

7. Know who your command ombudsman is and how to contact them.

8. Find out if COMPASS classes are offered in your area.

9. Familiarize yourself with the information and resources Naval Services FamilyLine has to offer.

10. Don’t hesitate to ask questions!