Army expands military spouse licensing, fellowship programs

By Shannon CollinsJune 10, 2024

Erin Wiegers, Army Military Pay Office military pay technician, works on tasks related to release orders and an entry of judgement awarding a prisoner’s family six months of pay in the Fort Leavenworth, Kansas AMPO March 22, 2024. A recent U.S. Army Financial Management Command initiative ensures AMPO employees who relocate with their service member spouses during permanent changes of station will maintain their positions within the command.
Erin Wiegers, Army Military Pay Office military pay technician, works on tasks related to release orders and an entry of judgement awarding a prisoner’s family six months of pay in the Fort Leavenworth, Kansas AMPO March 22, 2024. A recent U.S. Army Financial Management Command initiative ensures AMPO employees who relocate with their service member spouses during permanent changes of station will maintain their positions within the command. (Photo Credit: U.S. Army photo by Prudence Siebert) VIEW ORIGINAL

WASHINGTON — The Army recently expanded the reimbursement policy and fellowship program for military spouses to promote career continuity, financial stability, professional fulfillment, talent retention and support overall military readiness.

The Army enhanced the reimbursement program for business costs and relicensing fees due to relocation for spouses and increased awareness of its paid fellowship program for the Army spouses.

“The Army is doing everything possible to remove barriers impeding employment for military families,” said Steve Yearwood, program analyst with the Army's Directorate of Prevention, Resilience and Readiness, based in the Pentagon. “By providing opportunities for career development, portable career pathways through licensure recognition among states and increased awareness of programs supporting military families, these initiatives can improve unemployment rates among military spouses and their overall economic stability and well-being.”

Licenses

The new directive permits reimbursement of up to $1,000 for business-related expenses, in addition to the already authorized $1,000 for relicensing fees resulting from a relocation.

“Army spouses face unique challenges, especially during a relocation,” said Lt. Gen. Kevin Vereen, Army deputy chief of staff for Installations, Energy and Environment. “We owe it to them to provide any opportunity to not just have a job but build a fulfilling career.”

Qualified relicensing costs include costs for exams, continuing education courses, certifications, business licenses, permits and registration fees. Qualified business costs include moving services for equipment, equipment removal, new equipment purchase, information technology expenses and inspection fees.

Occupational licenses include fields such as education, dentist, lawyer, healthcare, pharmacist, veterinarian, cosmetology, real estate and more. Spouses can visit CareerOneStop to learn more about which state has reciprocity that allows the transferability of their license(s).

“Military spouses often face challenges in maintaining consistent employment due to frequent relocations. By streamlining the licensure process, military spouses can be reimbursed for the expense that enables recognition of their professional credentials across states,” said Yearwood.

In the past, military spouses would sometimes have to find what jobs were available at each assignment, working at the base exchange, child development center or other on-base facilities. These steps help spouses continue working in their chosen profession without delays or requalification hurdles to ensure a steady source of income, he said.

The policy also applies to those who transfer from the active component to the Reserve component who are authorized a final move or those who are placed on the temporary disability retired list resulting from a relocation where the movement of the Soldier’s dependents is authorized.

(Photo Credit: Army photo) VIEW ORIGINAL
Fellowship 

The Military Spouse Career Accelerator Pilot is a competitive, 12-week, paid fellowship with more than 250 public and private employers. In its first year, the focus was on career-ready military spouses, those who had education and experience and were ready to enter the workforce, said Yearwood.

In its second year, the Defense Department expanded the fellowship to include skills-based fellowships designed as entry level. As the program progresses, the DOD continues refining it based on feedback from the spouses and employers participating in the program.

More than 100 Army spouses are currently in the program. Most of the participants receive offers for permanent jobs, said Patricia Barron, deputy undersecretary of defense for Military Community and Family Policy. Salaries for the jobs average about $60,000.

Lawmakers on the House Armed Services Committee’s military Quality-of-Life Panel have recommended that the program be made permanent.

“It’s been a great program. To be able to sustain it throughout the years would be phenomenal,” Barron said. “We’re getting an awful lot of really good feedback from the military spouses who are involved.”

Yearwood said the Army has made significant gains in supporting spouses in various ways this year. Some key accomplishments include expanded employment opportunities by connecting military spouses with job opportunities both within the military community and with the DOD Military Spouse Employment Partners, which includes more than 700 partners. These employers recruit, hire, promote and retain military spouses.

He said the Army increased awareness and access to education and professional development opportunities for military spouses through the My Career Advancement Account, open to spouses of active-duty Soldiers in pay grades E1-E6, W-1 and W-2, and O-1 to O-3. Spouses can apply for scholarships and apply for the account via Military OneSource.

The Army also focuses on the work-life balance by encouraging hiring managers to increase remote and telework opportunities when possible, he said.

Yearwood said he hopes all these initiatives will help lower the Soldier spouse unemployment rate and improve their overall economic stability and well-being. He recommends Army spouses take advantage of these programs.

“Visit your Family Readiness Center and speak with an employment readiness staff member who can provide a wealth of resources to help you navigate the challenges of frequent moves,” he said.