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U.S. Defense and Labor Departments announce new career program for military spouses

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Departments of Defense and Labor today announced plans to jointly provide military spouses with opportunities to pursue portable careers in high-demand, high-growth occupations.  This three-year Military Spouse Career Advancement Initiative, offered at 18 sites in eight states with large military populations, will enable military spouses to develop the skills needed to successfully start, navigate and advance their careers.

“America’s military spouses quietly and courageously bear the sacrifices required of them and their families as their loved ones are serving our country,” commented Secretary of Labor Elaine L. Chao. “The Military Spouse Career Advancement Initiative provides financial resources to help spouses develop their career goals and dreams.”

Military spouses suffer an unemployment rate that is three times that of their civilian counterparts, while nearly 77 percent of them report that they want or need to work.  The frequent moves required by the military often make it difficult or even cost-prohibitive for spouses to establish long-term careers or meet state credentialing and licensing requirements.  Almost three-fourths of military spouses say the cost of continuing their education is more than they can afford.

The Military Spouse Career Advancement Initiative was created to help spouses overcome some of these financial barriers.  The funding will make it possible for eligible candidates to receive Career Advancement Accounts in the amount of $3,000 for one year, and renewable a second year for an additional $3,000.  This money can be used to pay for expenses directly related to postsecondary education and training, including tuition, books, necessary equipment, and credentialing and licensing fees in nationally identified high-growth, portable career fields such as education, health care, information technology, construction trades and financial services.

Eligible program participants are military spouses with sponsors in pay grades E1-E5 and 01-03 who have completed some college, or who have obtained a high school diploma or GED.  Funds will be provided directly to educational institutions and/or credentialing agencies.  The two departments are jointly approving $35.2 million over three years.

Military spouses may apply at One-Stop Career Centers on or near participating installations’ Voluntary Education Centers. The 18 installations initially identified to participate in the project include:  San Diego Metro and Camp Pendleton in California; Fort Carson and Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado; Jacksonville Naval Air Station, Eglin Air Force Base and Hurlburt Field in Florida; Fort Benning, Ga.; Hickam Air Force Base, Naval Base Pearl Harbor, Schofield Barracks and U.S. Marine Base Kaneohe Bay in Hawaii; Naval Air Station Brunswick, Maine; Fort Bragg and Pope Air Force Base in North Carolina; and Fort Lewis, McChord Air Force Base and Naval Station Kitsap in Washington state.

Additional information including eligibility determination, career and education counseling, and skills assessment will be available at each participating installation’s Voluntary Education Center and/or Family Support Center, and online at www.MilSpouse.org.

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