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Educational Benefits for Military Spouses

Every marriage necessitates significant levels of patience, commitment, flexibility and sacrifice. Military couples, however, face the additional stress of coping with location changes, active duty assignments and even more taxing situations.  For the spouses of military members, one of the primary complications lies in the realm of employment.

As more troops have been rallied, deployed and called to action in recent years, the Department of Defense has stepped up its efforts to assist the spouses of these men and women who have enlisted in the service of the United States military.

One mission of the military has been to encourage private companies to hire military spouses.  The Department of Defense has launched a campaign to partner with companies in multiple industries and locations nationwide to educate more employers on the benefits of hiring military spouses.

The Department of Defense has launched a partnership with the Department of Labor as well, creating the Military Spouse Career Advancement Initiative. This $35 million program is currently being offered in 18 locations, within military installations in California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Maine, North Carolina and Washington. The Military Spouse Career Advancement Initiative is tailored for junior enlisted and junior officer spouses. Requirements for interested spouses include marriage to a service member on active duty in ranks E-1 to E-5 or O-1 to O-3. 

Men and women enrolled in the Military Spouse Career Advancement Initiative can receive as much as $3,000 in one year—with the possibility of renewal for a second year—for financial requirements related to education and training (including tuition, books, licensing fees and more). Programs covered by this initiative must lead to degree or certificate completion in high-growth, portable career fields, such as education, health care, information technology, construction and financial services.

The initiative, dedicated to military spouses, also provides general assistance in a job search for military spouses—whether they are relocating, re-entering the workforce, seeking advice on childcare and local education, or just interested in a new position. The site also includes advice for investigating employment opportunities within the Department of Defense. 

When considering jobs and industries, the Department of Defense advises spouses to take into account mobility and potential for growth. As the nature of a military marriage often includes assignments to far-flung locations within the United States or around the world, an ideal employment situation would most likely be one with great opportunity regardless of one’s physical situation.

One example of an industry with continual need and wide-ranging locations is education. From substitute teaching and bus driving, which afford flexibility in time commitment and ease of transportation from one place to another, to teaching and tutoring, opportunities are varied in type and in experience required.

Education is also a field in which individuals can advance in position and salary via advanced degrees and certifications. Today, with ready availability of high-speed Internet access and continually increasing numbers of degree and certification programs delivered online, opportunities for higher education are more varied than ever before. Online-based learning can be transported from city to city, or base to base, and accomplished on time schedules convenient to individual students. Additionally, distance learning programs are covered—even encouraged—by funds allotted to spouses by the Military Spouse Career Advancement Initiative.

The life of a service man or woman’s spouse will never be free of stress. Frequent relocations, lengthy separations and other challenges will always be present. Fortunately, the Department of Defense and other organizations have placed specific emphasis on support services for military spouses, including employment advice, educational benefits and encouragement programs. Additionally, distance education is available to assist with individuals’ career advancement goals. Through research and utilization of the resources available, military spouses have the doors of opportunity wide open to them.

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