In July 2011, while serving as the 2011 Armed Forces Insurance Military Spouse of the Year, I created an advocacy plan called the Military Spouse Education Initiative (MSEI). The core of the plan is to create a program that works with the challenges of military life, not against them. Incorporated into the MSEI, are ALL military spouses, not just “wives,” not just the 4 branches that fall under DOD, and not just certain ranks… simply ALL spouses.
What are its intentions?
First, let’s go with the grain, not against it. We move. We move often, and amidst those moves are college transfers. Throughout my travels in speaking with military spouses many, including myself, often lose college credit going from school to school.
Action 1: Volunteer Experience to College Credit Program (VECC)
Military spouses volunteer within their branch family readiness programs, within nonprofit organizations, and within their communities. Often, that volunteerism equates to valuable skillsets that can be translated to college credit. I have sent a policy letter to the Marine Corps, Coast Guard, and Army encouraging them to adopt this program through the American Council on Education.
Action 2: Encourage the Department of Education to adopt a transferability policy for its institutions to accept credits for military spouses who transfer due to PCS orders.
While all classes may not translate to an exact course, at the very least they can be accepted as a completed elective. It will save military families time and money.
Action 3: Create a Military Spouse Service Grant
Since the rank structure was changed for the Department of Defense’s MyCAA program, many senior spouses have felt left out of funding options. My goal is to work with the private sector to create a grant for all military spouses seeking any level of education. We do not wear rank and neither should our programs.
Action 4: Childcare Tax Credit for Military Friendly Centers
Childcare is a top hurdle of spouses who are seeking their education. We are balancing family commitments along with work and school. The goal is to work with NACCRRA on establishing a tax credit for those quality childcare centers that provide a tuition discount to spouses who are enrolled in a full time program.
Concurrently, to the above actions I have launched a website to house educational resources all in one place. The goal of the site is to arm you with the knowledge to make informed decisions about your goals, keep you updated on funding options, and share with you my own journey to graduation day.
Change does not come easy nor does it come fast. I will need all hands on deck to accomplish the above goals. It is your openness to share your struggle that will highlight to decision makers in the academic field that we need their attention. Often, programs boast of being military supportive, but that usually means for our service members and veterans. Military spouses need a program that fits our unique role in this community, and I believe together we can make these words on a paper a reality.
“Crystallize your goals. Make a plan for achieving them and set yourself a deadline. Then, with supreme confidence, determination and disregard for obstacles and other people’s criticisms; carry out your plan.” – Paul J. Meyer, motivational speaker
For more information on the Military Spouse Education Initiative and how it can help YOU pursue your educational goals, please visit http://www.milspouseeducation.org/ and pass it along to other military spouses who may need the wonderful support this initiative can offer.