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The Military Advantage

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The founder and president of Military.com, Christopher Michel, has done something far nobler than anything most people accomplish: Taken all the benefits of being in the military, and put them in a comprehensive yet readable format that ends up being a pretty handy book. I use the word “noble” to describe Michel’s offering because I know the amount of work it must have entailed.

One of the worst parts about being in the military (as active, reserve, or vet) is that it’s almost impossible to know and understand all the benefits you are entitled to. That’s not even counting the hassle involved in trying to take advantage of them. Some benefits are obvious; troops get an allowance if they live off base, students can get the GI Bill for college, and military members have full insurance. But what about family members? Scholarships? Discounts? What about the VA home loans? Legal Services? Michel covers all of it and more.

The book is divided into eight main advantage types: Money, pay, health care, benefits, education, career, transition, and family. Each of those categories is then further divided into the individual programs, such as the GI Bill, military lodging, or space A travel. The sections are well-planned and organized, and the material is easy to quickly get through, whether you use it for a quick reference guide or an all-out readfest.

Michel’s tone throughout the book is slightly informal, and I found it made reading about the various programs easier. Those who would otherwise put the book on a shelf until they “need to look up something” can take heart–the book is not too bad in the attention-keeping category. There are some no-brainer sections (Military Identification Cards comes to mind), but even those have information that the average servicemember may not know, such as the age dependent children need an ID, or what other forms of ID are needed to get a military card.

Many important phone numbers and addresses of various agencies and offices dot the margins of the book, usually near the section discussing it. I found this to be invaluable, since there’s nothing worse than reading a section in one place and then having to dig through another section to find contact info. Everything is right there for you. The author also includes several sidebars and extra boxes of info, such as tips for moving claims. Interesting historical or geographical facts related to the topic can also be found, adding an extra element of knowledge.

While active-duty members and their families will perhaps glean the most from this book, retirees and surviving family members also should consider Advantage a must-read. Survivor benefits and much more are laid out in the same easy-to-understand style.

This is the owner’s manual about military benefits I wish I’d have had back in 1993, written for the military by a veteran. Thank heaven someone finally wrote this. If you’ve ever been in the military or are the dependent of someone who was, you need this book. Period.

My rating: 5 out of 5

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About Kit Jarrell