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Gates Reviews Military Spouse Career Program

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, June 17, 2010 – Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates is grappling with the best way to reopen the Military Spouse Career Advancement Accounts program to new applicants, concerned that the program has morphed beyond its original intent and cost estimates, Pentagon Press Secretary Geoff Morrell said here today.

Gates believes the program, commonly known as MyCAA, was designed to provide military spouses portable career skills that would help them find jobs after making permanent change-of-station moves, Morrell said. He offered examples: real estate licenses or home health-care provider accreditations.

But in many cases, Morrell said, the MyCAA program has become an avenue for military spouses to pursue four-year degrees and other, longer-term educational opportunities now provided through the new Post-9/11 GI Bill.

“That is not what MyCAA was designed for,” the press secretary said.

Enrollment in MyCAA skyrocketed in January, overwhelming the system and causing the program to nearly reach its budget threshold. As a result, the Defense Department temporarily halted new enrollments in February pending a top-to-bottom review.

More than 136,000 spouses who had already established MyCAA accounts continue to receive program benefits.

As the secretary considers the best way to resume the program fully, he is wrestling to determine, “given the sudden groundswell of interest in this program, how do we manage that interest, how do we focus it on what it was meant for [and] how to we handle it from a budgetary perspective?” Morrell said.

Gates must decide: “Do we refine this back to what it was originally intended to be – an opportunity for people to relatively quickly gain a very portable skill that would make them employable wherever they lived, or what it has morphed into -- an opportunity for people to pursue a range of educational opportunities?” Morrell said.

Morrell said he expects a decision relatively soon.


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The opinions expressed in the following comments do not necessarily reflect those of the U.S. Department of Defense.

6/28/2010 6:51:20 PM
I run the National Personal Training Institute (NPTI) in San Diego. We are so sad to see the MYCAA program halted with no clear answer on when it will be back. We have had at least 30 Military Spouses attended our 6 month course for Personal Fitness Training Certification. We too are devastated financially by the closure of MYCAA with no notice given at all! It is just terrible for everyone. I do think the program should be geared more for Career Training rather than 4 year or graduate degrees. There are many other financial options for college. wwwBecomeATrainercom for more info. God Bless
- Julie mccallson, San Diego Ca

6/19/2010 5:29:16 PM
Military members do a job just like everyone else who chooses a job or career path. - and their families support that choice. There are many dangerous jobs that people voluntarily do every day - oil riggers, miners, fire fighters, police officers and countless others. Businessmen relocate, contractors relocate...every day as part of their job. Many of those occupations support the military but their spouses do not get any special consideration or support because their spouses choose the job they do. So I pose the questions...why are the tax payers required to pay for military spouses to go to school? What makes military families more important to educate that the rest of population seeking education? I don't understand dilemma.
- Kimmie, Virginia

6/19/2010 12:57:00 AM
I am a military spouse and recipient of the MyCAA grant. What good is a real estate license today? Limiting the program to low wage certificates is not going to better the military spouse and her job prospects. Spouses are becoming the primary breadwinners after their spouses have been hurt or even KIA. I have spoken to the press on more than one occasion about the MyCAA closure. Here is my blog with more thoughts on MyCaa http://julia-lauren.blogspot.com/ I want to encourage the Secretary Gates and the DOD to rethink limiting the program to low paying quickie degree programs. The DOD listened to military spouses when they said education was a priority for them. Please see this a HUGE need. Our spouses put their lives on the line for this country and we keep the family going and strong for their return. Without the family you will not have a good military force. We also take care of these broken service members when they come home to us mentally and physically hurting.
- Julia Aten, Puyallup, Washington

6/19/2010 12:24:17 AM
I believe the program should return to its original intent. I personally would love to be able to use this money for a medical transcription course. There really isn't much out there in scholarships for this career. On the other hand, I see plenty of scholarships and funding for continuing your college degree. I find it unfair also that some spouses applied for the money, were approved, and may not have used it yet. I'm ready to start this course work but have to fork over money I don't have right now. Please hurry and make a decision so we can decide what we have to do. Thank you.
- Silvia, Fort Campbell, KY

6/18/2010 9:05:49 PM
I think that with all the sacrifices we make supporting our soldier, the least we can get is money towards our education . We can earn additional income to be more secure. That security gives the solider piece of mind that his family is provided for. In addition, I can guarantee the more wives that are working and earning good money the less they will hear complaints about a soldier's salary barely making it by. Let us do what we wish with it
- Samantha Durden, Fort Stewart, GA

6/18/2010 9:01:45 PM
That's a tough call, though honestly my impression from the get-go was that it was for anyone pursuing any sort of 'portable' career in any field that they had listed. I am [slowly] working my way to a Bachelor's in Political Science. That degree was listed as one that qualifies under the MyCAA program, yet I have never seen it listed at any school as a 'certification' or Associate's. Always a Bachelor's. I completely understand why they would want to keep it to the shorter-term certifications and Associates degrees, however. The cost of paying for full degrees would be extremely high.
- Amy, Fort Hood, TX

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