A new career program that provides up to $6,000 for a military spouse's education and training has been expanded Army wide.

Military spouses who want to further their education and are interested in the program are asked to complete an online application by the first week of May.

The Military Spouse Career Advancement Account program was piloted for at least a year at 17 military installations. Though Fort Jackson was not part of the pilot, its families, along with thousands of others across the Army, will now have access to the program, which is managed by the Department of Defense.

"(DoD) has expanded this program to all active duty military spouses -- regardless of rank, and it's worldwide," said Barbara Martin, the Employment Readiness Program manager at Fort Jackson.

Martin said that it is very important for spouses who are interested in the program to go the Military OneSource online site and submit a profile prior to the first week of May.

By mid-May, the Department of Defense will review the profiles of each spouse applying for benefits and determine eligibility.

Once deemed eligible, the spouse will be assigned a Military OneSource career and education counselor. This counselor will help the spouse select a career or field of interest, school and/or program to attend and arrange for payment of tuition.

The career advancement program also encourages military spouses to choose "portable careers," Martin said. Workers are in high demand for jobs in education, health services, hospitality and technology. These professions are needed on and off post.

Also, the Military Spouse Career Advancement Program has absorbed the "Spouses to Teachers" initiative. Martin said those spouses who want to teach would also need to apply via this program.

Currently, there is no set period or deadline for when spouses have to use the funds in their Military Spouse Career Advancement program account, Martin said. The funds can be used for educational training and certification. However, they cannot be used for the purchase of computers, application fees, graduation fees, child care and parking and transportation fees.

In addition, spouses should bear in mind that only certain schools are designated to participate in the career advancement program and that tuition is paid directly to those educational facilities.

The aim of this DoD program is to provide a worthwhile opportunity to military families and help them plan for their future.

One of the biggest goals for the military is retention of Soldiers, Martin said. Moreover, the Soldiers' spouses influence their decision to serve. So, it makes good sense for the military to support the spouses.

Page last updated Fri April 24th, 2009 at 16:08