The My Career Advancement Account (MyCAA) was created by the Department of Defense to give military spouses the opportunity to pursue an education program that supports portable careers. Because of our on-the-go lifestyle, the program provides financial assistance specifically targeting the schooling required for occupations that you can take with you as you move from duty station to duty station. Since October 2010, 61,000 spouses have utilized the program to attain licensures, certifications, or Associate’s degrees.*
According to CDR Leslie Hull-Ryde, Defense Department Spokesperson for Personnel and Readiness, the top three programs pursued by spouses are pharmacy technician, medical assistant, and registered nurse. Commander Hull-Ryde pointed out that when seeking a program, the school “must be fully approved by an accrediting body recognized by the Department of Education or by a regional accrediting agency, state board or a DOD-approved industry regulating body.”
Overview of what the program provides:
- -$4,000 maximum education benefit with an annual cap of $2,000
- -The funds must be applied to tuition costs for courses and/or examinations leading to an Associate’s degree (with a specific concentration), license, or certification
- -It DOES NOT cover books, supplies, uniforms, child care, or any course not include in your student training plan
Who is eligible for the program?
- -You must be the spouse of a service member on active duty in pay grades E1-E5, W1-W2, or O1-O2
- -You must be able to finish the coursework while your service member is on Title 10 orders, to include National Guard and Reserve Components
How to apply to the program:
- -Access the MyCAA Spouse Portal at https://aiportal.acc.af.mil/mycaa and click “Register”
- -You will have to complete a DEERS Eligibility Check, which will include your name, Social Security Number, Sponsor’s Social Security Number, and Date of Birth.
- -If for any reason you do not pass this check, you will be required to obtain additional information or you can contact an Education Consultant at 1.800.342.9647.
- -Read Terms and Conditions
- -Verify Personal Information
- -Enter Education Level
- -Enter Employment History
- -Create Challenge Question
- -Create Username and Password
- -You will receive a registration confirmation
The process to register only takes a few moments, and counselors are available Monday through Friday (7 am- 10 pm EST) and Saturday (10 am – 5 pm EST). Education and career consultants can assist you with questions regarding setting up an account, finding a qualified school and post-graduation employment training. The MyCAA program houses all of the components to get eligible spouses from point A to point B in their pursuit of gainful employment.
What Do Spouses Who Are Using It Think?
Samantha Casey, Air Force
How she heard about it: Mother in Law who is a military spouse
Program: Pharmacy Tech Certification
Was it easy to use: Samantha utilized “The Major Group” to enroll in the program, which she said made it a seamless process; they offer various certifications, including medical, as well as counselors who are trained in all aspects of the MyCAA program.
Advice to fellow spouses: “do some research on the programs that they are looking into signing up with. And always get as much as you can out of it. The MyCaa program is wonderful, I feel strongly about every spouse that is qualified to seriously look into it. If you find the right program for you, go for it.”
Carla Wiedler, Marine Corps
Did it cover all of her schooling: No, she needed to work in addition to her classes to meet her tuition needs.
What she is doing with the education she received from it: Carla used her experience to get a job on base at the barber shop. She states, “It really is full circle, but honestly it’s more about employment opportunity, supply and demand. It’s no sense going to school for something that you aren’t going to be marketable in. It wasn’t my intent to do barbering or men’s cuts…. It’s just what I happened to fall into.”
Eli Arroyo-Allen, Navy
How she heard about the program: Her husband’s command
Program: Business Administration, Associate’s Degree
Did it help in her career aspirations: Eli believes the education she received from using the program added great value to her professional opportunities of today.
Janet McIntosh, Army
How she heard about it: Through the Army Community Service
Program: Elementary Education
How she feels about the MyCAA: Janet utilized the education benefit before the rank rules were implemented so at the time she was able to apply it towards a Bachelor’s degree. Since she is now excluded from it, her husband transferred part of his Post 9/11 GI Bill to her and she was able to complete her degree this year.
A Program Built For You
Spouses across the globe have utilized this program for everything from a short term employment goal to building a portable career path for themselves. In the military life, few things are guaranteed BUT moving is one of them. If you are eligible for the educational assistance, use it to build a better future for your family but more importantly to help you reach your individual goals. The My Career Advancement Account fosters an opportunity for you to gain an academic plan with experienced counselors to assist you, funding to help pay for your courses, and after action services that will guide you through the employment process. Reach for your highest potential and let the Department of Defense give you extra support along the way.
*The information provided in this article was attained from the Department of Defense’s Office of Personnel and Readiness.