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Using MyCAA to your Advantage


You’ve worn the dress, said the vows, cut the cake, and wrote the thank you notes; in other words, you’ve gotten married. But as the spouse of a member of the United States armed services, there’s always a second groom at the wedding: Uncle Sam. Being married to a service member comes with an additional host of issues civilians, which includes multiple residential transitions. According to KPBS educational reporter Ana Tintocalis (following up on the documentary War Comes Home), military families move approximately every three years. What is that going to do to your career?

The statistics on spousal unemployment aren’t encouraging, according to the Military Community and Family Policy Office of the Pentagon; as of 2011, military spouses have a 26% unemployment rate. And 95% of military spouses actively looking for employment are women. As the old adage goes, “If Mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.” The Department of Defense knows this, and has developed the Military Spouse Career Advancement Accounts Program (MyCAA) to help “make Mama happy.”

MyCAA is a part of the Military Spouse Employment Partnership (MSEP) designed to assist in developing job-related skills through education and training in disciplines that lend itself to relocation and portability. Spouses of active duty service men and women (including active duty reservists) can receive $2000 per year for up to two years for education and training leading to a professional license, certificate, or Associates Degree (no General Education or Liberal Arts; the degree must be discipline-specific). The service member must be in the initial ranks of service; E1-5, W1-2, or O1-2.

MyCAA offers so much more than simple financial assistance.

  • For those without post-secondary education and training, MyCAA provides career search opportunities through skills and interest testing, earnings potentials, and employment projections to help you focus your studies and get the most out of the financial benefit. (Research assistance is also opened to those who wish to explore changing careers.)
  • Resume not getting any notice after you send it in? Meet with a career counselor to get help in representing the best you on paper (applications included). Rusty or nervous about interviewing? Practice your interviewing skills to see where you are doing well and where you can improve.
  • Know you’re being transferred? Discover the area you’re moving to, what the economic opportunities are, and how to adapt your career goals while keeping on track but adapting to the realities of the situation.

MyCAA resources include information on and access to both military and civilian programs that can help you determine, plan, and achieve your career and educational goals. Taking the first step in contacting the MyCAA program can help prepare you and make you eligible for a host of other programs out there for additional spousal education benefits (the Overseas Spouse Education Program, additional scholarships). It can help make your (many) transitions easier. And it can help you keep sane, knowing that there are others out there in the same situation.


Contributed by S.E. Davidson Parker

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