ATTN Military Spouses: For a limited time, the Department of Defense has expanded eligibility for My Career Advancement Account (MyCAA) to the first 1,250 approved applicants in the ranks of E-6 and O-3. MedCerts is an approved school for the MyCAA scholarship.
With frequent moves and deployments, the life of a milspouse provides challenges that those outside the military will never know. Creating a fulfilling and rewarding life might take some extra effort, but it's achievable — and the support of a strong military spouse community makes it easier.
Finding community is especially important for military spouses who are also going back to school to pursue training to enhance or begin a career. Students who take advantage of the military spouse benefits of educational grants juggle many responsibilities — but they don’t need to feel like they’re doing it alone.
To feel supported as you work to improve your life, you’ll benefit from a strong military spouse network. You’ll find that you’ll have enhanced mental health, a better focus on your studies, and perhaps even a stronger marriage if you create a support system as early as possible.
The more you hear from people in situations that are similar to yours, the less alone you’ll feel.
There is no guidebook for building a military spouse community that consists of fellow students with similar struggles and challenges. Still, you can create a network by being active in strategic ways.
While Facebook or Twitter can help you find supportive online groups of milspouses who are also going back to school, you may also be able to find one near where you’re stationed. Military websites like the National Resource Directory and Military OneSource can provide information about Family Readiness Groups in your area.
If an art class or a local history lecture looks interesting to you, put it on your calendar and attend. Many milspouses may feel uncomfortable about attending evening events when they aren’t familiar with the area, but often places near bases are safe. Talk to your partner about your desire to strengthen your network and learn about something new. You may find a new friend, too.
Perhaps the best perks of being a military spouse are programs like MyCAA, which can provide grants that make going back to school extremely affordable. Some milspouses qualify for up to $4,000 a year for career training, and online schools like MedCerts accept these grants for classes that prepare you for high-demand fields like healthcare and information technology.
To meet other milspouse students, you can also organize networking sessions on base. Talk with a café or restaurant about hosting your event, then print up simple flyers with the meet-up information. You may be able to negotiate drink discounts or other incentives to increase attendance.
Don’t forget about official support programs. The Military Spouse Advocacy Network connects milspouses regardless of location. You can find peers who have walked in your shoes, and you can support others with your experience, too.
When you’re on an airplane, the flight attendants instruct you to put on your oxygen mask first before helping others. It’s the same with your life as a military spouse. You can’t support your partner, your family, or other members of your military spouse community if you don’t care for yourself first.