Frequent deployments and moving every two or three years can intensify the needs of Massachusetts military families in many areas of their lives, such as spouse employment and education.
Bases worldwide offer families a wide variety of support services, from legal assistance and tax preparation, to child care, financial counseling, relocation assistance, education and employment assistance, youth programs, and deployment and mobilization support.
Central points of contact
Start with the family centers on military installations or MilitaryOneSource.mil, which offers access to additional assistance by phone or chat, 24 hours a day.
Most of the information on Military OneSource is available to the public, but some extra services are available for free to service members and their immediate family members, survivors of deceased service members, and certain others. Retiring or separating service members and their immediate family members can also access these services for one year after they leave the service.
Among those services are nonmedical counseling – available in person, by phone, secure chat or secure video session – as well as financial counseling, including tax preparation and tax filing help. Spouse employment and education services; language translation services for documents, health and wellness coaching, child/youth behavioral counseling, and family life counseling are also available.
For decades, two of the biggest issues for military spouses have been finding employment and educational opportunities.
Here are some of the programs that address those needs:
Spouse employment and education
Spouses can visit their installation’s family center for employment and education assistance. They can also visit the Spouse Education and Career Opportunities, or SECO, section at MilitaryOneSource.mil for information on scholarships and other education and employment needs. SECO offers a free, personalized benefit through certified career counselors to help spouses investigate career options, education options or entrepreneurial projects.
Through DoD’s My Career Advancement Account program, or MyCAA, spouses of certain junior service members can receive tuition assistance of up to $4,000, with an annual cap of $2,000, to pursue licenses, certifications or associate degrees needed for employment in any career field or occupation. This benefit is available to spouses of active duty members in paygrades E-1 to E-5, W-1 and W-2, and O-1 and O-2. Under a recent provision in law, military spouses remain eligible for this financial assistance if their military sponsor is promoted beyond the eligible ranks, as long as they have an approved education and training plan in place through the program.
Spouses can also search job opportunities on the Military Spouse Employment Partnership site, where hundreds of businesses that have been vetted by the Defense Department are seeking to hire military spouses.
A new provision in law bumps up the maximum military spouse reimbursement to $1,000, for relicensing and recertification costs each time they relocate with their service member. The service branches implemented their individual programs for reimbursing spouses in mid-2019 under this pilot program, which has been extended through 2024. Many military spouses spend time and money getting new professional licenses when they move to a new state, costing money for exams and other fees, as well as lost pay potential as they go through the process.
The Secretary of Defense and service secretaries have ramped up their efforts to convince states to change their laws – and implement them effectively to address the issue of license portability for military spouses.
The Department of Labor has set up a website, based on DoD’s data about licensing, to help military spouses understand the laws of each state, and to find information about the appropriate licensing board in the states for each occupation.
Should you be in the midst of a Massachusetts military divorce or contemplating divorce, contact the Law Offices of Renee Lazar at 978-844-4095 to schedule a FREE one hour no obligation consultation.