MyCAA, or My Career Advancement Account Program, is a Department of Defense scholarship program for military spouses. Although the program was started in October of 2010, there are many people who have never heard of it and less than one-fifth of eligible spouses are actually using the education benefit.
MyCAA provides up to $4,000 (at an annual cap of $2,000) to civilian spouses of active-duty members in the pay grades of E-1 to E-5, W-1, W-2, O-1 and O-2. The scholarships are designed to be used for programs that can help spouses with portable careers. The money can be used to pay for education, training, testing and even occupational licenses or credential examinations for hundreds of pre-approved occupations. What MyCAA does not cover are general studies, bachelor’s, or graduate degree programs.
Programs that lead to portable careers range from web designers to aircraft mechanics. These are career paths that are in high-demand across the country, which gives the military spouse a better chance of finding employment upon relocation.
For military spouses interested in taking advantage of the scholarship programs and education benefits, community colleges in your area may be the best place to start. Most community colleges offer trade-specific or certificate and licensure programs for many portable careers. In Hampton Roads, Tidewater Community College offers programs specifically designed to meet the needs of military spouses, such as the Virtual Employment Academy. Graduates from this program are qualified to sit for an industry credential, the International Virtual Assistants Association (IVAA) Certified Virtual Assistant.
Military spouses in Hampton Roads who wish to learn more about professional development should attend the free Military Spouse Symposium in Virginia Beach on Tuesday, February 24th at the Westin in Town Center. This symposium, hosted by Military Officers Association of America, will cover everything from available military spouse education benefits to resume workshops and navigating federal employment. Find out more on the MOAA website.
Terri Dees, Master Sergeant (Retired), U.S. Army, is the coordinator of academic advising and base operations for the Center for Military and Veterans Education at the Tidewater Community College Virginia Beach Campus. She retired in 2002 after 20 years of service as a transportation senior noncommissioned officer. Dees has ten years of experience in higher education. She has served as a vocational rehabilitation specialist, an academic planning and transfer specialist, a career coach, an academic advisor and as coordinator of a student success center. She holds a doctorate in higher education administration from George Washington University, a master’s degree in education, guidance and counseling from Norfolk State University, a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from Saint Leo University, and an associate degree in corrections management from Austin Peay State University.