In the days leading up to Valentine’s Day, popular culture includes various depictions of the mythological Cupid, the god of affection, ready to play matchmaker with his bow and arrow aimed squarely at one partner ready to connect with another. Once his mission is complete, Cupid disappears and the relationship is left to the partners to flourish.
Building and maintaining a healthy, productive and satisfying work-life balance is a challenge for married couples when the professional goals of each partner conflicts. This can be especially daunting when both members of a married couple happen to be Soldiers.
The Married Army Couples Program (MACP), established in 1983, has assisted thousands of Soldiers manage their individual careers and balance their married-to-the-military relationship for nearly forty years.
Today, more than 22,000 active component Soldiers are enrolled in the program, according to Army Human Resources Command officials. The vast majority are two enlisted Soldiers married to each other. HRC does not track similar statistics for active component Soldiers married to a member of the Reserve Component or to a member of another branch of the U.S. military such as the U.S. Navy or U.S. Air Force.
Only one Soldier needs to request enrollment in the MACP when both Soldiers are serviced by the same Military Personnel Division, Brigade Combat Team, and/or Brigade Staff Section (S-1). Otherwise both must apply. Enrollment is initiated by either Soldier but both Soldiers must sign the request.
Once enrolled, married Army couples can request a joint assignment to establish a common household or joint domicile. The guideline for a joint domicile assignment is close enough together for Soldiers to establish a common household (50-mile radius or 1-hour driving time of each other).
Enrollment guarantees joint domicile assignment consideration; however, it does not guarantee that the couple will be assigned together at the same location and/or at the same time.
When one Soldier is considered for reassignment, the other Soldier is automatically considered for assignment to the same location or area. This happens after both Soldiers are enrolled in the program. Assignment instructions for each member will indicate whether a joint assignment is approved.
If one Soldier is considered for assignment, and the other Soldier does not have sufficient time remaining on their service obligation to take a new assignment and does not reenlist or extend, the provisions of the MACP do not apply.
According to MACP policy officials, favorable consideration for joint duty assignments require a valid requisition/requirement existing in the same area for both Soldiers’ military primary military occupational specialty and paygrade. A second consideration is that career progression of both Soldiers is not adversely affected and Soldiers are eligible for the assignment.
Now at Ft Knox, Ky., Cmd. Sgt. Maj. Sherman Waters, 1st Theater Support Command’s Special Troops Battalion command sergeant major and U.S. Army Human Resources Command 1st Sgt. Alikeisha Waters enrolled in the MACP in 2016 after they married while stationed at Ft. Bragg, NC.
“We have been fortunate to be co-located with each other and did not have to choose between where we will have to go or if one person’s assignment would outweigh the other,” said 1st Sgt. Waters.
The Waters’ only compromise regarding assignments came when a competing leadership position for her and career-enhancing school opportunity for him arose at the same time.
1st Sgt. Waters elected to remain at Ft. Bragg serving as a platoon sergeant while her husband attended the U.S. Army Sergeants Major Academy at Ft. Bliss, Texas in 2017.
“This (decision) allowed me to continue as a platoon sergeant and have that key development time under my belt. The compromise definitely was challenging. I would not be where I am if we had not made the hard decisions and take the hard jobs,” she said.
HRC’s MACP policy officials are quick to point out that all assignments, including a Soldier’s request to be placed on assignment must first be coordinated through the Soldier's assignment manager or career branch.
Once both Soldiers have contacted their assignment manager or career branch any remaining questions or assistance needed regarding the management of the MACP can be directed to the Enlisted Procedures and Soldier Actions Branch at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling the Army Service Center at 1-888-276-9472.