Antoinette Wahl, Child and Youth Program assistant, reads a story to Jaclyn Gowans, 4, before nap time Aug. 11 at Gardner Hills Child Development Center. Wahl used the Civilian Employment Assignment Tool to transfer from a CDC at Fort Bliss, Texas.
Antoinette Wahl, Child and Youth Program assistant, reads a story to Jaclyn Gowans, 4, before nap time Aug. 11 at Gardner Hills Child Development Center. Wahl used the Civilian Employment Assignment Tool to transfer from a CDC at Fort Bliss, Texas. (Photo Credit: Mari-Alice Jasper, Fort Campbell Courier) VIEW ORIGINAL

Along with the typical challenges Families face during a permanent change of station, or PCS, move, spouses often face the uncertainty of transitioning back into the workforce after leaving their jobs behind.

The Directorate of Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation offers the Civilian Employment Assignment Tool, or CEAT, that spouses who are currently employed with MWR can use to help them maintain their positions after they move to a new location.

Although the program is not specifically designed to only help military spouses, Jessica Beals, Child and Youth Services administrative support assistant at the division level, said she hopes they will consider using it.

CEAT allows transitioning eligible nonappropriated fund employees in the NF-03 pay band and below who are not in managerial positions to request a noncompetitive transfer without a break in service from one Army location to another where the same position is available. To be eligible for the program an employee must have been in his or her position for a minimum of 90 days. Positions in the NF-04 and NF-05 pay bands, emergency hire, seasonal and limited tenure employees are not eligible for the program.

Beneficial to military spouses

While CEAT is not specific to military spouses, Beals said military spouses should consider using it if they already work for MWR.

“It is an incentive for a military spouse seeking employment to go with MWR, because we offer this program because it’s inevitable, you’re going to get PCSed and you’re going to go to a different installation,” she said. “What this does is if you’re PCSing to another Army installation, you apply and sign up for this program and it puts you at the highest priority at your gaining installation for placement of jobs.”

This program is useful to spouses because if the PCS doesn’t go as planned and there is an issue, they can come back to their original job because they are given a year of leave without pay.

“Maybe you’re going to Fort Benning and something falls through. Maybe you went there and then you needed to come back,” Beals said. “We can take you back, you’re still on our books. It’s a worst-case scenario but it gives us the ability to immediately bring you back off of leave without pay, you’re still on our books and it allows the no-break in service.”

Supervisors value CEAT

Cynthia Reese, facility director at Gardner Hill Child Development Center said supervisors use CEAT because it gives priority to the incoming employee but also because those employees arrive at their new job already equipped with a wealth of knowledge and experience relevant to their job.

“As a supervisor, I look for CEATS,” Reese said. “They already know the ins and out of CYS and don’t have to go through the whole onboarding process.”

Since working with CYS, Reese said she has accepted about six employees through the relatively new program, adding the process works quickly.

“Once they get to the location of where they’re going, that location will see it and pick them up,” she said. “They don’t even have a break in service. They actually can start working as soon as they get there.”

Plan for a PCS

This service is very advantageous to spouses and if they are aware of an upcoming PCS they should notify their immediate supervisors and discuss whether or not they’d like to use CEAT to transition to their new location, Beals said. The the entire application process only takes about 15 minutes to complete.

“When we have employees who want to utilize it they come in and there’s a few documents that we have them fill out,” she said.

The process is painless, she added and can save employees some time if they decide to use it.