CAMP H.M. SMITH, Hawaii --
Recent changes in the Military Spouse Career Advancement Accounts Program allows more active-duty spouses to enroll in classes and offers new job fields for future career opportunities.
In the past, the program was only open to active-duty enlisted spouses of E-1 to E-5 and officer spouses of O-1 to O-3 and offered five job fields to pursue a certificate or degree. But, now the changes permit all military spouses, stationed at participating installations, regardless of rank, to apply and has added four new job fields.
The CAA provides job fields in the areas of human resources, business management, hospitality and tourism, homeland security, healthcare, education, financial services, information technology and skilled trades such as carpentry, plumbing and more.
Stephen L.Peters II, an education technician with Headquarters and Service Battalion, U.S. Marine Corps Forces, Pacific, said the program offers up to $3,000 of funding for the first year, but participants can prolong their classes for a second year and receive an additional $3,000.
“Prior to this program, we had no money for spouses,” said Craig Lockwood, an education specialist with the Joint Education Center for Lifelong Learning, U.S. Marine Corps Base Hawaii, Kaneohe Bay. “We’d counsel spouses, provide them with scholarship information and we’ve helped them with their scholarship searches.”
The Department of Defense and the Department of Labor created the program in November 2007 as a joint-pilot program providing job skills, which spouses can use in most locations, Lockwood said.
“The program provides assistance to military spouses seeking to gain the skills and credentials necessary to begin or advance their career,” Peters said.
According to Lockwood, the biggest obstacle with education is financing and the rising cost of tuition. Using the CAA, spouses now have education opportunities similar to the tuition assistance offered to service members.
Lockwood also said the classes are designed to take no more than two years to finish and are focused on vocational and technical programs, which spouses can use wherever they go.
“We take somebody who needs the education, get them in, get them trained and get them working,” Lockwood said. “We’ve already seen an increase in the past three weeks.”
To meet eligibility requirements for the program participants:
Must have a high school diploma or general equivalency diploma.Must not be currently receiving training assistance funded by the U.S. Department of Labor.Must be married to an active-duty service member. Spouse must be stationed at one of the installations participating in the pilot site, or on an unaccompanied, military tour from a participating installation. Must have a minimum of one year remaining at the current installation duty assignment.
To apply, participants must talk to a counselor at the JEC and fill out an application of eligibility.
If eligible, participants must be accepted or enrolled in the desired course before sitting down with a Department of Labor Representative for tuition funding.
For more information on the CAA program, contact Peters at 477-8846, the JEC at 257-2158 or visit www.milspouse.org.