AER Spouse Education Assistance Program Scholarships – Deadline May 1st

aerThe application period is now open for the Army Emergency Relief’s Spouse Education Assistance Program Scholarships for the 2013-2014 academic year. The deadline is May 1st.

The Spouse Education Assistance Program is a need-based scholarship program established to assist spouses of Army Soldiers in obtaining a 4-year undergraduate degree. Applicants must apply each year and may receive assistance for up to four academic years.

To learn more, visit the Army Emergency Relief website.

NMFA Military Spouse Scholarships – Deadline January 31st

nmfa-logo-croppedThe National Military Family Association (NMFA) offers academic scholarships to spouses of all Uniformed Service members through their Joanne Holbrook Patton Military Spouse Scholarship Program. In The deadline for 2013 scholarships is January 31st. Applications must be submitted online.

Scholarships may be used towards tuition, fees, and school room and board for GED, ESL, vocational training, professional certification, post-secondary school or graduate school.

To learn more, visit the NMFA website.

Your Career: Military Spouse Preference Part 2

This is the second in a 2-part series on Military Spouse Preference (MSP), an aspect of the DoD’s Priority Placement Program falling under Executive Order 13473 or Executive Order 12721 (for spouses of Active Duty servicemembers returning from an overseas PCS). Read Part 1 here.

You have a 2-year window from the date of your spouse’s PCS order to take advantage of Military Spouse Preference (MSP).  It is not enough to be a military spouse and have PCS orders — you need to register with the new duty station’s civilian personnel office in order to claim preference.

You can register for MSP up to 30 days prior to your sponsor’s reporting date at U.S. duty stations. However, if you are PCSing from an overseas duty station, you can register for MSP upon arrival at the new duty station in the U.S. MSP is not used at overseas duty stations.

Download a fact sheet on Military Spouse Preference here.

1. Register for MSP

Give the civilian personnel office at the military installation where your spouse is assigned a call for any specific registration procedures they may have. You will most likely need to schedule an appointment or come in during walk-in hours in order to register.

Documents you’ll need if you do not have prior Federal Service:

  • Your Sponsor’s Permanent Change of Station (PCS) orders
  • Resume
  • Marriage Certificate
  • Transcripts, if you have a degree
  • Licences/Certifications (if applicable)
  • DD 214 (if you served in the military)

For those with prior Federal Service, you’ll also need to provide:

  • Standard Form 50
  • Most recent Performance Appraisal
  • Standard Form 75 (if available)

The civilian personnel office will review your documents, determine what types of jobs you qualify for, then register you for MSP.

Put your best foot forward here, i.e. make sure your resume is polished and thoroughly details your work experience, education, military experience if any, certifications, licenses, etc. If you do not have prior federal service, your resume will be picked through with a fine-tooth comb to determine where you would best fit in the federal civilian service, which can make or break your chances of landing a job at that duty station.

2. Apply for Federal Jobs

If a job vacancy comes up for which you are a match, the civilian personnel office will let you know. However, registering for MSP does not automatically get you the job; you still need to apply for the position.

In most cases, you will apply for the vacancy through USAJOBS.GOV, which lists federal job vacancies.

Download USAJOBS Tips for Military Spouses.

When applying, be sure to check the box to claim Military Spouse Preference employment category, which may be listed as “EO’s 13473 or 12721 eligible”. 

If you see a vacancy on USAJOBS that is open to the public, U.S. citizens, “status candidates” or “Military Spouses eligible under EO’s 13473 or 12721” that you are interested in, you can still apply and claim preference, even if your civilian personnel office did not inform you of it, as long as no more than 2 years have passed from the date your Sponsor’s orders were issued (3 years from the date you entered the U.S. if you PCSed from overseas).

Best of luck!

Further reading on federal employment for Military Spouses:

ALL BRANCHES: http://www.militaryonesource.mil/seco?content_id=267564

ARMY: http://cpol.army.mil/library/permiss/6314.html

AIR FORCE: http://www.afciviliancareers.com/sites/default/files/AF_Civilian_Employment_Guide.pdf

NAVY: http://www.public.navy.mil/donhr/Employment/MilSpouses/Pages/Default.aspx

Your Career: Military Spouse Preference Part 1

As a military spouse, it can be a challenge (might be an understatement) to string together a career of your own due to frequent moves, transferring licensing between states, and often playing “single-mom” while your military spouse is deployed, in the field, TDY, etc.

7 years into my marriage to a Soldier, and I’ve held 3 different jobs, run my own business, freelanced as a writer, and put in hours as a volunteer in 2 different positions. In fact, right now I’m holding down a full-time job, still running my business part-time, and still putting in hours as a volunteer photojournalist for Fort Carson’s newspaper, The Mountaineer. Maybe a little nuts, but I figure while the going’s good, I have to take advantage, because the next PCS is coming soon.

Maintaining a career as a milspouse is NOT for the faint of heart. But where there’s a will, there’s a way. At least that’s what I tell myself, every time the Army throws a monkey wrench into the inner workings of my career.

Something which took me 3 PCSes to learn about is Military Spouse Preference (MSP), which is a part of the DoD’s Priority Placement Program (PPP).

In a nutshell, it can help you land a Federal Civil Service job. Which, in turn, can help you maintain a career in federal service. Put in 25 years, and you can get a federal pension of your own.

You have a 2-year window from the date of your spouse’s PCS order to take advantage of MSP.  It is not enough to be a military spouse and have PCS orders — you need to register with the new duty station’s civilian personnel office in order to claim preference.

Read Part 2 of this series on MSP to learn how to take advantage of this program.

Welcome to MilSpouseLife

cards-croppedWelcome to MilSpouseLife, a resource and online refuge for spouses married to servicemembers. Why just for military spouses? Because life married to a Soldier, Sailor, Airmen or Marine is filled with experiences and challenges unlike any in civilian life.

When you say “I do” to that servicemember, you are also saying “I do” to Uncle Sam. And Uncle Sam gets a mighty big say in your life, whether you want him to or not.

Not to worry. Thanks to support networks, resources, legislation and your own resilience, you can shape your own life despite Uncle Sam’s meddling.

I’ll warn you right now: it won’t be easy. Pulling together a happy family life, a comfortable home, education, career, and mental and physical well-being is challenging enough. While many  have learned to get through Uncle Sam’s major life changes such as unplanned moves to unexpected places and deployments in-stride, it’s often at a cost. Degrees go unfinished. Careers gets derailed. Your children’s growing-up years become a patchwork of friendships and schools. Sometimes family traditions get upheld, sometimes they fall to the way-side.

MilSpouseLife is here to help. Come back to learn about resources available to you. Learn to draw on the skills and resolve that you already have, so you can accomplish what you want in life, even as the military leads you down unexpected paths.