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With about 84,000 military couples (military married to military) in the United States military each of the services have an assignment program called "Joint Spouse." In order to participate in the Joint Spouse program both members must apply. If you are considering this option you should know what the military will and will not do for you.

No Guarantee

There is no guarantee, but the military will make every effort to station military spouses at the same base. If that isn't possible they will try to station the military couple within 100 miles of each other.

No job-slot just for a spouse

The military will not create a job-slot for a spouse just to assign the couple together. If you are not in the same branch of service it gets more complicated. For example, if one spouse is a Marine and one is in the Army. In order for them to be stationed at the same base either the Marine base would have to have a job-slot open for the Army spouse or the Army base would have to have a job-slot for the Marine spouse.

Time-on-station rules apply

Another obstacle a military couple might face is that "normal time-on-station" rules apply. In general, in order for a military member on his/her first enlistment, assigned to a CONUS (Continental United States) base, to move overseas, he/she must have 12 months time-on-station. In order for the military member on his/her first enlistment to move from one CONUS base to another, he/she must have 24 months time-on-station.

When assigned to an overseas tour, there is a set-tour length, generally 24 months for a single person, and 36 months for a married person who is accompanied by his/her spouse and/or dependents. For "careerists," (those who have re-enlisted at least once), the time-on-station requirements are greater. For a careerist to move from CONUS to overseas requires 24 months time-on-station, and to move from CONUS to CONUS requires 36 months time-on-station.

Here is an example of how the normal time-on-station might impact a couple: Two privates marry after job training. One is assigned to a base in Florida and the other to a base in Washington D.C. If they want to be stationed at the same base they will have to wait 2 years because neither one can move to another CONU base S for 24 months. Their only option might be for both to apply for duty overseas, apply for Joint Spouse status, and cross their fingers that they are selected. The down side is that even if everything works out it will still be 12 months before they can move.

Another important tip is that you should apply for Joint Spouse status before you get an assignment. It takes several weeks to process and once you are at your assignment it is too late because time-on-station rules apply and you can't move until your rotation date (2 years if assigned overseas and 1 year if CONUS).


Military couples stationed together have housing options. They can live off-base and receive a housing allowance, or can give up the housing allowance and live free in on-base family housing, If there are no other dependents (children), each member is treated as "single" (for housing allowance purposes), and each will receive the single-rate Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH) appropriate for their rank and assignment location. If there are children, one member receives the with-dependent rate, and the other member receives the single rate. It is usually to the couples advantage to let the senior ranking spouse receive the "with dependent" rate. If a military couple is not stationed at the same base and there are no dependents, each member is considered "single" when calculating the housing allowance.

Family Separation Allowance

When a military member's orders cause them to be separated from their dependents for longer than 30 days they are eligible for Family Separation Allowance (currently $250 /per month). The same applies to military-married-to-military, with the following exceptions:

(1) The members must be residing together immediately prior to the departure

(2) Only one member can receive the allowance. Payment shall be made to the member whose orders resulted in the separation.

If both members receive orders requiring departure on the same day, then payment will go to the senior member.

Care of Children (Dependents)

Military couples with children must develop a "family care plan." This is a very important issue and it must specify what arrangements they have made for their children in the event they are both deployed. This is taken very seriously and failure to create and keep a current plan can result in discharge.

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