The Army's Self-Directed Credentialing Assistance program is modeled after the Tuition Assistance Program that enables Soldiers to request training to attain academic degrees and certificates through GoArmyEd. As with tuition assistance, credentialing assistance is open to all eligible officers, warrant officers, noncommissioned officers, and enlisted Soldiers. But here's the big difference -- in support of credentials the Army will pay for training courses, books, materials, fees, the credentialing exam, and recertification. Soldiers have a total of $4,000 per fiscal year to use toward Self-Directed training through tuition and credentialing assistance combined.

More than 1600 credentials, licenses, and certifications are listed in Army COOL (www.cool.army.mil). COOL aligns credentials to Army military occupational specialties. Soldiers can use CA to augment their professional skills and qualifications in their own specialty. However, Soldiers can also use CA during their off-duty time to pay for credentials listed in Army COOL that do not relate to their MOS. CA can fund face-to-face, online or hybrid courses as long as they lead to the credential the Soldier selects. This can support a Soldier's future civilian occupation after separation or retirement from the military as well as establishing increased competencies to contribute while serving-thereby contributing to readiness.

The Credentialing Assistance Program at Fort Campbell, Kentucky has soared! A Limited User Testing of the program began in September 2018 for Active Duty Soldiers at Fort Hood, Texas, and Army Reserve and National Guard Soldiers stationed in Texas. Fort Campbell, Kentucky National Guard and Kentucky Army Reserve Soldiers began participation on June 3, 2019. From June to September, Army Credentialing and Continuing Education Services for Soldiers (ACCESS), Army University at Fort Knox, KY has processed over 288 requests for Credentialing Assistance funding from Fort Campbell alone. Since 1 Oct. 1, the Fort Campbell Education Center has continued to keep the ACCESS, Army University extremely busy with submissions of over 300 requests for funding. Some of the most requested credentials during the limited user testing have been Project Management Professional, Private Pilot (Single Engine), American College of Sports Medicine Certified Personal Trainer, Lean Six Sigma Green Belt, and Certified Associate Project Management.

Sabrina Giraldo, the Education Services Officer and Yolanda Murrey, Supervisory Education Services Specialist, have shared several ICE comments and great news stories from Soldiers they have provided service to:

"Very helpful, courteous, and professional group of individuals on Credentialing"

"Very friendly, helpful, and professional counseling staff. I actually enjoy using this center and service, as the staff goes above and beyond to ensure you get processed in a timely manner. The employees here are knowledgeable and offer guidance on very important decisions."

It doesn't just stop there. The counseling staff at the Fort Campbell Education Center has and continues to provide outstanding service to the Soldiers at Fort Campbell!

Several Soldiers have completed their requested courses or exams earning their credentials or are moving on to complete their credentials. Yolanda Murrey stated, "Many Soldiers have stated they will enroll in another Credentialing program after they complete the exam and receive their certification." The Fort Campbell Education Center also conducts unit briefings. After Sabrina and Yolanda met with Sgt. Maj. Matthew J. Middleton, Command Career Counselor, at 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), he requested they brief at a training event to all Career Counselors from the installation. Middleton said "Credentialing would be great in retaining Soldiers. This would be an addition to the school option, and Soldiers could receive a certification in less time. They may be able to offer a 3 month school option for reenlistment."

The opportunity for Soldiers to benefit from the CA Program is just beginning with a phased implementation. In January 2020, all Soldiers will be able to participate.

• On 1 October 2019, the following locations began participating: Active Duty Soldiers stationed at: Joint Base Lewis-McChord, WA; Fort Carson, CO; Fort Drum, NY; Fort Riley, KS; and ARNG and USAR Soldiers with units in Washington, Colorado, New York, Kansas.

• On 1 November 2019, the following locations began participating: Active Duty Soldiers stationed at: Fort Stewart, GA; Fort Gordon, GA; Fort Bliss, TX; Fort Bragg, NC; Schofield Barracks / Tripler, HI; Fort Benning, GA; and ARNG and USAR Soldiers with units in Georgia, North Carolina, and Hawaii.

• On 1 December 2019, the following locations are slated to participate: Active Duty Soldiers stationed at Fort Irwin, CA; Fort Polk, LA; Fort Huachuca, AZ; Fort Eustis, VA; Fort Lee, VA; Fort Jackson, SC; Carlisle Barracks, PA and ARNG and USAR Soldiers with units in California, Louisiana, Arizona, Virginia, South Carolina, and Pennsylvania.

• Soldiers at all other installations and states for all components can begin participating on 1 January 2020.

For more information on the Army CA program, Soldiers can contact their local Education Center or Education Office. To see a listing of all credentials offered go to www.cool.army.mil. The CA request form can be found in a Soldier's GoArmyEd account.