10 Military Spouse Benefits to Keep in Mind for 2016

As a “seasoned” military spouse, I love conversations with younger spouses because their enthusiasm is energizing! And in the course of chatting, I usually find that the issues of childcare, education, and employment are hot topics.

And I’ve discovered something. While I can assume that other military spouses know about the many, many military spouse benefits available to our community, I realize that so many military spouses simply aren’t aware of all that’s out there. And honestly, as I am constantly learning of new resources, this should be no surprise! Plus, you know what they say when you assume…

Whether DoD funded or available through a nonprofit organization, is it possible that you too could be missing out on some great opportunities? From educational grants to free homecoming signs, check these out! In no particular order, here are 10 military spouse benefits to keep in mind for 2016. As there’s no way to fit every benefit in this space, if you have something to share that I missed, I hope you’ll chime in!

  • Military OneSource: If you haven’t visited Military OneSource, please make some time to browse it now, as they offer extensive resources for military families. And as we all know with DoD-funded programs, if we don’t use it, we’ll lose it. Known primarily for their confidential, free non-medical counseling and referrals, you may not realize what other help they provide, to include financial counseling, help with dealing with deployments, PCS, and much more. Did I mention it’s FREE? Which leads us to…
  • Military Spouse Career Counseling: Also run through Military OneSource, this one deserves its own space. One of our community’s most common concerns is keeping careers afloat and furthering education. Take the time to understand the benefits available to you! The Military Spouse Employment Partnership will connect you with potential employers and help you with your resume and job interviews, while MySECO (Spouse Education and Career Opportunities) “provides education and career guidance to military spouses worldwide and offers comprehensive resources and tools for all stages of your career progression.”
  • MyCAA (My Career Advancement Account): Up to $4,000 of scholarships for you, military spouse! Can be applied to licenses, certificates, certifications, as well as degrees. These are designed for spouses of service members on active duty in pay grades E-1 to E-5, W-1 to W-2, and O-1 to O-2. Check the MyCAA website for details and eligibility.
  • Military Spouse eMentor Program: Whether you need mentoring or would like to act as a mentor, connect through this program from Hiring Our Heroes. For military spouses everywhere, this community is designed for personalized job search and career guidance, advice, support, and inspiration from more experienced spouses, mentors, and employers.
  • Youth Sponsorship Program: What’s good for your kids is good for the whole family. Much like the active duty “sponsor” assigned to your spouse at the gaining location when you receive orders, kids can have their own sponsor to give them information about their new home, answer questions, and provide a friendly face when they arrive, making a military relocation that much easier.
  • BuildASign: Have a homecoming soon? BuildASign will provide a banner, jumbo card, or yard sign for you! It’s their way of giving back to the military community while making homecoming more special. Design your sign online for free.
  • Yellow Ribbon Photography: Through coordination with local photographers, these professionals donate their time and services to provide photos for the deployed. While priority is given to service members about to deploy, family members are considered on a case-by-case basis. Check the Yellow Ribbon Photography site for details.
  • Macho Spouse: Male military spouses, you’ve got your own outlet! Connect with other male spouses and deal with current military life issues through video, online networking, and communication.
  • Childcare Help: While the DoD offers childcare facilities, you may find yourself waitlisted or too far from an installation to utilize them. If you need to find childcare in your community, the DoD, through a partnership with Child Care Aware of America has two programs to help military parents find quality, affordable care off the installation: Military Child Care in Your Neighborhood helps active duty families find and pay for community-based quality child care and Operation: Military Child Care provides financial assistance when mobilized or deployed service members have children enrolled in licensed or legally operating community-based child care programs. Check the Child Care Aware of America website for more information.
  • Hiring Fairs: Job or career fairs can be a great way to network and learn of opportunities in person. The S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation hosts hiring fairs for military spouses across the country and even at overseas military installations.

Here’s to a successful 2016, fellow military spouses!

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