Category Archives: Military spouse education

Military Spouses are Changing the Face of the Mental Health Profession!

soldier-hugging-childIt’s common knowledge that there’s a mental health crisis brewing in the United States. May is Mental Health Awareness month, but at the National Military Family Association, the mental health of our military families weighs on our minds all year.

From spouses who spend their days caring for an injured or wounded service member, to children who struggle with a parent’s deployment, it’s more and more apparent that the military lifestyle affects the mental health of not only the service member, but those who support them, too.

But are there enough mental health professionals out there to help military families? While the number of mental health professionals who have experience with military families grow, there’s one group of people who know they’ve got what it takes to change the face of mental health in the military community….

More and more military spouses are continuing their own educations and joining the mental health profession.

“With my degree, I hope to work with service members and their families who struggle with the after effects of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD),” says military spouse Stephanie Dannan.

But did you know our Association offers scholarship funding for spouses seeking clinical supervision hours to become mental health counselors?

Thanks to a $100,000 gift from United Health Foundation, we’re awarding spouses money to cover such hours, and move them closer to becoming licensed! United Health Foundation is the charitable arm of UnitedHealth Group, the most diversified health care company in the United States, and a leader worldwide in helping people live healthier lives and helping to make the health system work better for everyone.

Military spouses entering the mental health profession bring knowledge of the military community, and an ability to relate to other spouses and service members that their civilian counterparts might lack. These spouses have a generous spirit and want to help the communities they call home.

Stephanie was able to make her dream a reality by applying for, and receiving one of our military spouse scholarships, “I have an opportunity to give back to those who have fought for my freedom, and with this scholarship, I am one step closer to helping them.”

alliePosted by Allie Jones, Military Spouse Scholarship Program Manager

Military Spouses: Improving Your Resume by Going Back to School

chalkboardAs a military spouse, there are some questions that I grow tired of answering all the time:

What does your spouse do?

Where are you guys hoping to move to after here?

When are you going to have kids?

For me, it’s “where do you see yourself in the next five years?” While job interview questions are sometimes difficult, as a military spouse, explaining where you’ll be in five years can be an especially challenging to answer.

Oftentimes, the moving and array of jobs on our resumes may appear as if we simply cannot hold down a job – especially when you consider the variety of different positions and descriptions that may be listed. This may indicate to a potential employer that you lack vision, or direction, in your career goals.

Usually, I want to respond, “Five years?! I don’t know where I will be living in two years, so who knows where I will be in five!”

There are certain states with notoriously difficult job markets, so if we were to live in one of those states, I probably wouldn’t be working. However, if we are fortunate enough to live where there are ample employment opportunities, I will probably feel grateful to have found a job before our next scheduled move, and my hope is to find a job that will align with my past experience and education.

Military spouses oftentimes aren’t able to experience stability, simply because of the nature of this lifestyle. It makes it difficult to use any networks or connections we make to our advantage. We are often times underemployed, if we are employed at all.

What can we really do about this?

My own journey, like so many military spouses, led me to go back to school. While I know continuing my education doesn’t guarantee me a job, I do know it will make me more marketable to future employers.

But just because you figure out the next step, doesn’t mean everything else will come as easily. I spent months bouncing ideas around with a friend about which area of study would be right for me. I also spent a lot of time weighing the cost of going back to school versus the benefits I’d have once I was finished.

I finally decided on a blended program that provided half the classes online and half the classes on a campus. I decided to pursue a field of study with a curriculum broad enough to be used in a few different areas in the workforce, but would also reflect my level of dedication and ability to earn an advanced degree.

Who knows if it will pay off for me? That remains to be seen. But I do know that education is the one part of my resume that I can control. Returning to school to earn a Master’s degree while working, and being a mother of two boys, is a challenging task, but I believe it will ultimately prove to be a worthwhile endeavor.

If you decide school might be the right option for you, our Association has all the resources for you to answer all your questions – from “Where do I start?” to “Which degree should I get next?!”

Have you decided to go back to school to help improve your resume? Share your story with us!

Amanda headshotPosted by Amanda Anderson, Content Manager, MyMilitaryLife

Want to Go Back to School? We Have an App for That!

road-to-educationAs if military life isn’t complicated enough, I, like many other military spouses, decided to make my education a priority. After making this decision, I was overwhelmed by the amount of schools I could attend. With frequent moves and deployments, distance learning is a military spouse’s best friend. But, would it be right for me? I found the process of narrowing down schools and deciding on a program completely overwhelming. It weighed on my mind day in and day out. Waiting at a doctor’s office, at the grocery story, or painting my nails, I would be racking my brain about school, and what my next steps should be. In those moments, I wish I had something right at my finger tips to help me do the research.

Enter, the National Military Family Association’s app, MyMilitaryLife.

MyMilitaryLife is a resource any military spouse can turn to! I followed the “Spouse Education” Life Path and found information I needed to pick a good school. The app walks you through the process, from start to finish, with a checklist of items to complete along the way. Whether you want to pursue a certification, or even your Ph.D., the MyMilitaryLife has information for you.

The “Spouse Education” Life Path has the answers to your questions…even the ones you didn’t think to ask, like:

  • Where do I start?
  • What program is right for me?
  • Is distance learning for me?
  • Where can I find money to pay for school?
  • Will my credits transfer?

With MyMilitaryLife, these answers are at your fingertips, and can help smooth the road on your education journey. This Life Path even includes reviews from trusted sources: military spouses! Who better to give you advice than spouses who have been there, too? These reviews help make the app a valuable, trusted resource you’ll return to again and again!

Another bonus: the app features a great list of scholarships available to military spouses!

So, next time you are waiting around for an appointment, jump on your smart phone and download MyMilitaryLife. Maybe this time next year you will have a new certification in hand or be a headed for a new degree!

Amanda headshotPosted by Amanda Anderson, Content Manager, MyMilitaryLife

Apply for our Scholarships and Build a Better Future!

Female-Student-with-Back-PackOur Association was established by strong-willed military spouses who fought to ensure that survivors had benefits. We’ve made big strides since these bold women paved the way 45 years ago, and our Joanne Holbrook Patton Military Spouse Scholarship Program is no exception. This year marks the 10th year of our program, and we plan to expand it — by helping bridge the gaps between your education, training, or certification and your employment goals.

We’re excited that we’ve teamed up with Coca-Cola Foundation to award scholarships to spouses seeking careers in fitness and nutrition. These fields will help improve the well-being of families around the country, and serve as portable careers for military spouses. Apply for funding towards your own certification or degree in this new category!

We’re increasing our support of spouses going into mental health professions, because there’s a growing shortage of these professionals in our community, and there are a lot of hurdles for highly-mobile military spouses. They often have to pay out-of-pocket for some steps toward licensure, while their less-mobile peers have other options to cover these costs. We’re working with sponsors from the healthcare community to provide funding for some of these expenses — and after a move, will match spouses with providers who can help with some of the training they require. If you, or someone you know, needs help pursuing your licensure, apply for our Clinical Supervision scholarships!

If you’re pursing a degree in the high-demand science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields, we have scholarships for you, too! Thanks to the generosity of Lockheed Martin, we’re giving away more scholarships to spouses in these fields, which are not only highly-employable because of a national shortage of STEM professionals, but most of the positions are incredibly portable. That’s a perk all military spouses can appreciate!

We’re also ramping up efforts to support foreign-born spouses who need to learn English before becoming eligible for many jobs. Our scholarship program helps cover the cost of English-as-a-second-language (ESL) classes and exams.

This year marks the first year we’re partnering, on a large scale, with eligible schools and training programs to provide school, or program, specific discounts and scholarships for spouses attending, or planning, to attend our partners’ programs.

CSU-Global is proud to support us through five $1,000 scholarships for undergraduates, and two $1,500 scholarships for graduate applicants seeking degrees or certifications. If you’re interested, simply apply to our Joanne Holbrook Patton Scholarship Program, and you’ll then be eligible to apply to CSU-Global.

Our application period closes February 3rd at 12:00 noon EST. Apply now!

If you have a recommendation as to how we can better help spouses pursuing training, certification, traditional degrees, or licensing, let us know in the comments section below!

Semper Gumby: Make your dreams fit your life!

archaelogist-milspouse

As a Marine Corps spouse, I always try to embody the motto “Semper Gumby,” by always being flexible, but sometimes that’s really difficult. In fact, I just got word that instead of heading to a Marine Corps base in California, we’re heading to Virginia Beach, Virginia, instead. All these moves (six in the last three years!) and last-minute changes to our plans have made me question if I’ll ever fulfill my dream of working as an archaeologist. It’s been nearly impossible to hold down a job at all, much less attain my biggest career goals. But just as military spouses are flexible, we’re also resilient.

Archaeology has fascinated me since I was a teenager. I’ve always loved history, and solving the mysteries and questions that history presents. As an undergraduate student, my interests got a little more specific, and I decided to pursue underwater archaeology and archaeology of early America.

Roadblocks
When my path to becoming a working archaeologist faced some road blocks, it was time to regroup. I started volunteering in local museums, and working as a gift shop cashier. The next step was to figure out a way to make my work more meaningful and in line with my interests. I also needed to make my career portable. I enrolled in an online program to earn a certificate in Geographic Information Science (GIS), a computer program used to develop maps—basically the Microsoft Office of the archaeology world. Having a GIS certificate means I can still be involved in archaeology and history, but can work remotely or on a consultation basis. I didn’t stop there, though, because I knew I wanted a master’s degree.

A Fork in the Road
One of the biggest challenges military spouses face when pursuing higher education is how to go about getting it. The online GIS classes meant I could stay with my spouse, and wouldn’t have to quit school if we were forced to move unexpectedly. But while online classes forced me to stay very self-motivated, I didn’t get the same support from other students as I would have in a classroom setting.

Reaching Your Destination
When I looked for graduate programs, I decided to make the difficult decision to go away to school at the University of Rhode Island. The upside is that I can focus solely on work and research and I get to interact with other professionals in my field. The downside is that I am away from my husband.

How do we cope? By looking at this as an educational “deployment,” and like all deployments, it will end.

What have I learned? Think about what’s going to make you happy. Scholarships, like the one I received from the National Military Family Association are a huge help!

Keep an open mind. It is possible to make your dreams fit your life!

Have you ever had a “Semper Gumby” moment? How did you handle it?

Guest Post by Jessica Glickman, 2012 Joanne Holbrook Patton Scholarship Recipient

Military Spouse Scholarship Opportunities!

man-studyingNational Military Family Association is pleased to announce a new affiliation with the University of Southern California and Georgetown University. With master’s degree programs delivered online, these universities can help you continue your education no matter where military life takes you. Plus, through our Association, program candidates are eligible for scholarship opportunities.

What do YOU want to do?
Each of these programs blends live, online classes taught by university faculty with hands-on field experiences in students’ own communities.

To learn more, choose your field of interest:

Education: Make a Positive Impact in the Classroom — and Beyond
You can create positive learning experiences in a variety of educational settings when you earn your master’s degree in education. Ideal for aspiring or practicing teachers alike, the USC Rossier School of Education offers three online master’s degree programs:

Featuring the same highly selective admissions criteria as the on-campus programs, the USC Rossier’s online master’s degree programs can prepare you to inspire students everywhere.
Pre-Requisites: Bachelor’s degree
Scholarship Opportunity: $5,000
Learn more >>

Social Work: Further Social Justice
The University of Southern California School of Social Work is the first among elite research universities to offer its highly regarded Master of Social Work online. Expand your knowledge and gain in-depth training by choosing a concentration that complements your personal and professional interests — including a specialization in Military Social Work. Taught by renowned faculty and leaders in the field of social work, the online curriculum matches the academic rigor of the on-campus program.
Pre-Requisite: Bachelor’s degree
Scholarship Opportunity: $7,500
Learn more >>

Nursing: Improve the Health and Well-Being of All People
Advance your practice and improve patient outcomes as a nurse practitioner. Georgetown University’s nationally ranked Master of Science degree in Nursing features Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP) and Nurse-Midwifery/Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner specialties. Taught by Georgetown’s highly respected faculty, these programs are designed to provide the next generation of nursing leaders with the insight and knowledge they need to grow professionally and improve the health and well-being of all people.

Pre-Requisite: Registered Nurse (RN) license and a Bachelor of Science degree in Nursing (BSN)
Scholarship Opportunity: $7,500
Learn more >>

No matter where life takes you, never stop learning!

Are you a military spouse going back to school? Tell us what you’re studying!

Joanne Holbrook Patton Military Spouse Scholarship: Apply Dec 1!

Female-Psychology-StudentIt’s all in a name.

In this case, that name is Joanne Holbrook Patton. Joanne is a fifth generation Army daughter, and was married to the late Major General George S. Patton IV for 52 years. She has served graciously as a volunteer for the Red Cross, Army Community Service, and the National Military Family Association. She believes strongly in the importance of education for military spouses.

In 2005, the National Military Family Association renamed its scholarship program in her honor. In the ten years since the program’s inception, we have awarded more than 2,700 military spouses with over $2.4 million towards their education and careers.

Over the years, the scholarship program has adapted to the ever-changing military lifestyle. The ‘mobile’ lifestyle requires that spouses have portable careers – those that can be restarted in any state or overseas – in order to remain in the job market after each move. Often times, spouses already own a degree, or may be pursuing a degree, and return back to school to find a career that is more portable. The return to education comes at their own expense. The Joanne Holbrook Patton Military Spouse Scholarship Program is here to help alleviate the cost of schooling, licensure and certification.

Based on the current shortfall of professionals in the mental health field, we believe the military community will continue to suffer unless we devote efforts to developing a future workforce of individuals trained in these specialties. This year, UnitedHealth Foundation has made it possible for the program to cover clinically supervised hours for spouses with a Master’s degree in Psychology, Psychiatry, Social Work, or Counseling, who are pursuing clinical licensure in the mental health arena. In partnership with the UnitedHealth Foundation, we are striving to build an education to employment pipeline for mental health providers.

Wartime realities increase the importance and difficulties of military spouse education. Extraordinary battlefield medicine saves lives that would have been lost in prior wars – but many of the wounded are no longer able to work.

Military spouses require increased educational opportunities to help prepare for “the unthinkable.” In the event that the service member has been wounded, a better education can allow a spouse to rebuild their family, and pursue careers best suited to supporting them long term. To aid such situations, our program offers scholarships to spouses of the wounded and fallen.

Ten years later, we are still inspired by Joanne Holbrook Patton. She exemplifies what it means to serve, and even today, is avid supporter of military spouses.

If you are a military spouse heading back to school, signing up for a licensure exam or pursing a certification, remember to apply to the Joanne Holbrook Patton Military Spouse Scholarships opening December 1st. Applications are accepted through our website.

See a full list of eligibility requirements here.

alliePosted by Allie Jones, Military Spouse Scholarship Program

2013 FINRA Investor Education Foundation’s Military Spouse Fellows

accountant-womanThe job market for military spouses can be intimidating, and employment can be daunting. Especially when you know you won’t be in one spot for long. Portable careers are the most coveted among military spouses. One career that fits the portable bill is financial counseling.

In 2012, Forbes reported positions for financial advisors were one of the fastest careers in desperate need of talent. The Forbes report states, “The demand for financial advice is increasing as Baby Boomers approach retirement and seek help getting there.” The world of financial advisors is expected to grow at a rate of 32% according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics; the average growth rate of all occupations is 14%.

This financial industry is an excellent option for military spouses. Thanks to Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) and Association for Financial Counseling and Planning Education, military spouses have the chance to break into the industry by obtaining their accredited financial counseling certificate at no cost. In March of this year, the FINRA Investor Education Foundation’s Military Spouse Fellowship Program opened the application process, for the eighth straight year, for its class of 2013 military spouses. The FINRA Fellowship Program provides military spouse recipients with the education and training needed to earn the Accredited Financial Counselor® (AFC®) designation. Hundreds of military spouses applied for the program in 2013. Fifty military spouses throughout the U.S. and overseas have been awarded the FINRA Investor Education Foundation’s 2013 Military Spouse Fellowship.

Here are the 2013 FINRA Investor Education Foundation’s 2013 Military Spouse Fellows:

Karen Bond
TruVonda Boone
Ana Brown
Michelle Budzien
Lauren Chaplin
Tisha Curry
Katelynd Day
Kira Dentes
Kornkamol Diskul
Jessie Ellertson
Maria Firestone
Hyunhi Flot
Dawn Foster
Prece Fountain-Reid
Mari Fries
Patricia Geiger
Cynthia Giesecke
Adrianna Gonzalez
Sara Griffin
Olga Guy
Brynn Hanson
Julia Harris
Meredith Hathaway
Diana Hook
Katrina Horsley-Watts
Sabrina Johnson
Karin Knapp-Parham
Rebecca Lenard
Sarah Malufau
Michael Matheny
Emily McConnell
Sara Miller
Diana Mitsch
Meghan Northcutt
Uchenna Oranebo
Lucie Pak
Andrea Peck
Kia Plumber
April Postell
Angela Reyes-Hill
Angela Setering
Elaine Smith
Rebekah Strausheim
Sarah Tellefsen
Gideon Thomas
Whitney Thomas
Jennifer Trimble
Kelley VanDyke
Tuawana Williams-Jenkins
Valarie Young

An Army Wife’s Pursuit of Education OCONUS

Amanda-oakley2In November 2009, my husband and I set off for the adventure of a lifetime after he received orders to PCS to Baumholder, Germany! I was 23-years-old, a recent college graduate, and a newlywed. I was both excited and terrified. I had never lived outside of my home state of North Carolina, and other than moving to Raleigh, NC to complete my undergraduate studies at N.C. State University, I had never lived away from home. Baumholder was also my husband’s first permanent duty station.

It was easy for me to get lost in the excitement of moving to Germany and having the opportunity to travel Europe, however, when all of the excitement wore off, I realized that moving to Germany would mean limited career and educational opportunities for me. Unfortunately, it is common for military spouses to put their educational and career goals on the back burner while they support their spouse’s military career. I refused to let this be the case for me.

Upon arrival to Germany, I learned quickly that if I wanted to accomplish anything I had to be proactive and try to figure out my questions on my own. OCONUS (Outside the Continental United States) duty stations are a different world from stateside duty stations, especially if you have little knowledge about how the Army operates. Prior to moving to Germany, I knew I wanted to attend graduate school. When I found out that I would be moving overseas, I figured I would have to put going to graduate school on hold or live apart from my husband while completing a graduate program stateside.

Thanks to a fellow Army spouse, I learned about the education center on base. The representatives at the education center were so helpful and friendly, and just what I needed after ending up at so many dead ends with my school search. After receiving a wealth of information about educational opportunities for spouses in Germany and giving it a lot of thought, I applied to a program that would allow me to complete my Master’s while living in Europe. I was filled with excitement when I received an acceptance letter to the program, and beginning in January 2010, I was on my way to a Master’s degree!

While I was completing my graduate degree, I also held three part-time jobs. I worked as a childcare provider for two different military families in the area and as an Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) tutor for one military family that had a child with Autism. I felt it was important to provide some financial support to our family and do something that helped further my career. So much of my life revolved around my husband’s career, I needed something to call my own and to help me find my own identity without getting lost in his.

amanda-oakley

I reached my last year of graduate school in 2011, which brought new and exciting challenges for me. I was extremely sad and worried, but I did what any military spouse would do: I wiped off the tears and toughened up! In February, my husband left for his first deployment to Afghanistan. I decided to move back to NC during the deployment, to surround myself with family and work while continuing my education. I think staying busy with work and school was the best distraction I could have had. Before I knew it, the deployment was over and I was on my way back to Germany to welcome my husband home.

The next month, I began my internship at Baumholder Middle-High School. I was in the home stretch! I worked hard as a school counseling intern and in my final graduate school class. I enjoyed assisting the military students and it felt good to be back “home” with the military community. I learned a lot during my internship and received many opportunities to practice my counseling skills.

In May 2012, I received my graduate degree and walked across the stage during graduation in Heidelberg, Germany along with fellow military spouses, military personnel, and civilians. I had completed a Master’s degree, all while getting accustomed to the military lifestyle, living in Germany, and surviving my husband’s first deployment. What an awesome feeling!

Currently, I am working on a post-graduate certificate in behavior analysis. I have decided to become a certified behavior therapist and pursue a career as a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA). Someone once told me that military spouses will never be able to have a career due to the frequent moves and limited opportunities at many military bases. By being proactive and making strides to continue my education and begin my career, I have been able overcome the obstacles and be a strong military spouse at the same time!

amanda-oakley-headshotBy Amanda Oakley, Joanne Holbrook Patton Scholarship Recipient

Military Student Loan Forgiveness: What to do with your student loans?

Soldier-StudentMilitary families may rely on a variety of financial aid packages to help afford a higher education; including scholarships, grants, and loans. If your service member has federal loans, he or she will want explore the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program.

The PSLF is a program for federal student loan borrowers who work in a range of public service jobs, including military service. The program forgives remaining debt after 10 years of eligible employment and qualifying loan payments.  In most cases eligibility is based on whether you work for an eligible employer. Your job is eligible if you:

• are employed by any nonprofit, tax-exempt 501(c)(3)organization
• are employed by the federal government, a state government, local government, or tribal government (this includes the military and public schools and colleges); or
• serve in a full-time AmeriCorps or Peace Corps position.

PSLF applies to federal Stafford, Grad Plus, or consolidation loans as long as they are in the Direct Loan Program.  Borrowers with Federal Family Education Loan Program (FFELP) loans must switch to the Direct Loan program to participate in this benefit.

In order to qualify for loan forgiveness the borrower must make 10 years (or 120 monthly payments) after October 1, 2007. Qualifying payments are made through the Direct Loan program. To count, the payments must be made while working full-time in an eligible job. “Full-time” means 30 hours per week or the standard for full-time used by the employer, whichever is greater. If your service member meets all of the eligibility criteria the earliest the remaining debt could be forgiven under the program is October 2017.

With advanced planning, the PSLF is another tool your family can use to help make higher education affordable. Since federal student loan interest rates reset each July , now is a good time to explore the PSLF program to see if it is right for you and your family.

KatieBy Katie Savant, Government Relations Information Manager