The following is a guest post from a fellow military spouse who has taken advantage of an awesome opportunity provided to military spouses. Rachel Perez runs a Copywriting, Editing and Proofreading Services website.
I am very happily married to my husband of eight years and we have two children, a five-year-old son and a nine-month old daughter. After struggling in corporate America for four years after his graduation from college, my husband decided to follow through on something he’d wanted to do for several years – join the Army. He left for Basic Training in October 2008, and we moved to our first duty station (1700 miles from home) in June 2009.
I taught high school science for eight years in Texas, and simply assumed that I would be able to find a teaching job in New Jersey. In Texas, a person with a bachelor’s degree can get a teaching job and work on obtaining certification during their first year of teaching, so I thought I would be able to do something similar in New Jersey. I applied for eight or ten jobs and received not one single phone call. As August approached, it became clear that I would not be teaching during the 2009/2010 school year because I didn’t have my New Jersey teaching license.
I spoke to a woman at the Army Community Service on our post regarding their Employment Readiness Program. She directed me to Military One Source and told me that they had funding available for education of military spouses. I will admit that, at first, the Military One Source website was overwhelming; they have so much information. After creating an account with the site, I eventually called the toll-free number to get more specific directions. I was directed to the My Career Advancement Account (MyCAA) information and account creation pages.
Military One Source allows for up to $6000 in funding for spouses of active duty members (including activated National Guard and Reservists) to further their education in a portable career. An incredibly wide variety of careers qualify. This funding can be used to take courses that will result in a degree, license, or certification. Military One Source provides MyCAA consultants to help spouses create Career Plans and choose appropriate coursework.
Military One Source has already established connections with hundreds of schools, so registering and making payment for coursework at those schools is very simple. Additionally, if a spouse would like to take courses at a school that has not already formed an agreement with Military One Source, there are instructions for getting that school to contact Military One Source and make those arrangements.
My personal experience with MyCAA could have been a bit better. I had to make several different phone calls to get information about making my career plan, received a different set of instructions each time and then did not receive return calls. Finally, I insisted that the MyCAA consultant stay on the phone with me while I arranged for my coursework. She walked me through each step successfully as I negotiated their online registration. I then had to call the school I had chosen and let them know that the funding for my coursework would be through Military One Source. The person I spoke to at the school took my information, double-checked with Military One Source, and called me back in 10 minutes to confirm my acceptance, registration and enrollment. I started on my coursework that very afternoon.
The very best part about this process is that I never had to make a payment. I didn’t have to wonder if I would get reimbursed or lose money due to misinformation or a technicality. Military One Source makes payment directly to the school.
I would have been able to use this funding to obtain my New Jersey teaching certificate, but I’ve decided to go a different direction with my career. For several years, I’ve looked at becoming a freelance writer, but I never had the time or funds to invest in it. MyCAA has allowed me to take an online program that will result in a Technical Writing certification.
My advice for military spouses is to visit MyCAA and get started. Be persistent with the MyCAA consultants. This funding is there for the taking, so get after it!