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MyCAA – Part Two

February 19, 2010
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Yesterday, while trying to get more information, a friend of mine, a retired military officer got rather “irked” at this latest slap in the face for military spouses. He sent an email to a few VSO’s and wow… some results… but then, if you read this, you’ll understand why.

I know we are having some economic and budget issues and there will be a lot of belt tightening ahead for all Americans, but it is this kind of unannounced top down driven unilateral actions by faceless alphabet soup federal agencies that leave many military members and their families jaded and untrusting of Government promises to help. The sad thing is most of these families would be pretty forgiving and understanding if only given fair and timely notice of the need to temporarily or even permanently shut down the program. They are patriotic and clearly put the needs of their nation before their families (or they would not be putting up with so many deployments) they just get tired of feeling like Charlie Brown trying to kick the football while Lucy holds it and pulls it away at the last minute. For some military members and their families, the problem with Government programs is that they are “government programs”.

(yeah, he absolutely ROCKS!)

One of the VSO folks got a response from a Congressional office, and has been kind enough to allow me to post it. So – from the Horse’s Mouth. – It’s an answer – it’s not the BEST answer, but at least it’s an answer.

Quote:

“Military spouses represent a significant, young, diverse and motivated component of America’s labor force. We recognize that the military lifestyle calls for portable careers and that military spouses need access to education and training for careers that are portable and high-growth nationally. This short-term break will allow us to better assess the program to ensure we are achieving that goal.”

Tommy T. Thomas
Deputy Under Secretary of Defense
Military Community and Family Policy

During the DoD review of the MyCAA program, previously approved financial assistance for military spouses will be unaffected. Counseling support will remain available at the local installation and through Military OneSource. Military spouses are encouraged to continue to pursue career counseling and the development of their career training plans.

_______________________________

Questions and Answers

Q1. How many military spouses have contacted you for the MyCAA program?

A1. Nearly 133,000 military spouses have applied and approximately 98,000 spouses have been approved for financial assistance.

Q2. What is this “pause”?

A2. This pause is to review the software applications, financial assistance documents, and the overall program. This pause will not affect approved financial assistance documents. However, during the pause, no new MyCAA accounts may be created, and no new financial assistance applications will be accepted. Spouses who already have a MyCAA account may continue to use the MyCAA website for career counseling and planning.

Q3. Why is this pause necessary?

A3. The program, without any formal advertisement, has been extremely successful with high demand. The Defense Department is conducting this review to ensure the program is meeting the intent of its establishing legislation, which was to provide spouses with increased opportunity for portable careers.

Q4. How long will the pause continue?

A4. An end date for the pause has not yet been determined. Defense Department officials hope to resume accepting financial assistance applications in a few months.

Q5. Are there other similar programs available to military spouses?

A5. There are a wide variety of government programs open to military spouses. The most prominent among these are the Post 9/11 GI Bill and selected voluntary education programs available on installations and program Web sites.

Q6. Where can military spouses go for additional advice and counseling?

A6. Military OneSource, toll-free at (800) 342-9647 and online at http://www.militaryonesource.com is the best place for military spouses to start in getting information. Military OneSource Spouse Education and Career Consultants can provide education and training, career exploration, assessment, employment readiness and career search assistance.

Q7. What about spouses who have an approved career training plan, but do not have financial assistance approved for some courses?

A7. No new or pending financial assistance accounts will be approved during this review period. Spouses with a MyCAA account may continue to use the MyCAA Web site for career counseling and planning.

On a personal note, I talked to my counselor at the online school I was going to use, and told him, it’s all on hold. He was telling me that the servers at the MyCAA offices are constantly going down, they simply didn’t plan this out well enough. As a bunch of us have been saying – the Cart really went before the Horse here – there was no beta testing to get initial feedback. BAD planning, folks, BAD planning.

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. Joseph Furmansky permalink
    February 25, 2010 7:49 am

    Thank you very much for staying on top of this matter.

  2. Tammy permalink
    February 25, 2010 11:01 pm

    Loved the Charlie Brown reference. I find it funny that they had no idea how this program would take off. I know they did very little to advertise it but didn’t they talk to a single milspouse? I could have told them word would spread like wildfire! At every point in my husband’s career, at every base we’ve been stationed, a significant portion of my milspouse friends were either in school or trying to figure out how to make school work for them. MyCAA was a wonderful affirmation of just how hard milspouses work just to break even with their civilian counterparts. And now, well, that warm fuzzy kind of went away…

  3. mfisher32 permalink
    March 3, 2010 8:16 am

    I’m writing to ask your members of congress to join the Congressional Military Family Caucus in
    signing a letter to the Pentagon urging Defense officials to reinstate
    Military Spouse Career Advancement Accounts (CAA).

    The Pentagon suspended CAA enrollments last week, citing concerns about
    the potential cost because much larger-than-expected numbers of spouses
    were enrolling.

    Congress authorized the CAA program last year to authorize financial
    support to help military spouses with education, training, and
    certification/licensing expenses needed to offset career disruptions
    caused by military-directed relocations.

    The suspension has left 38,000 applicants hanging, with no viable
    alternative. The abrupt suspension jeopardizes the tremendous goodwill
    and appreciation engendered among spouses for this extremely important
    program.

    Additionally, my spouse is one of the 38,000. She was entering her class
    codes into the system to complete her application at 5 pm one evening and
    saw that they had shut down the program only 1 hour earlier. We couldn’t
    believe it – she had already been told by program officials by email that
    she had been approved for the program. She is concerned, as she has
    already enrolled in the courses and will have to pay, regardless of how
    the program turns out. In fact, she is concerned that the University will
    collect and then by her paying, will make her ineligible for MyCAA funding
    which is to be handled directly between the Federal government and the
    University.

    Please ask your members of congress to contact the offices of the Caucus co-chairs, Reps. Sanford Bishop
    or Cathy McMorris-Rogers by noon Monday, March 1 to join in signing the
    Caucus letter.

  4. mfisher32 permalink
    March 11, 2010 10:59 pm

    In messages to schools today from the program director…

    “MyCAA will not fund any courses that do not have an
    approved financial assistance document prior to the start date of the
    course.”

    This means that if your approval or request for approval was prevented due to the ‘halt’ you are not eligible for any government payment for those courses. So, they still have some work to do to get this right.

    No doubt, some have started classes during the ‘halt’ and were thus prevented from getting their requests and approvals processed due to the ‘halt’, however, all others will have requests and approvals honored. So, hopefully by all of us writing, you can get this gap closed and remove any impact it might have for still thousands that were impacted for classes that have started during the ‘halt.’

    Great work by all for taking citizen action and getting results. Thanks too should go to the military lobbying organizations that got an immediate and impactful result on the behalf of its membership, their spouses and the military community.

  5. January 13, 2011 1:57 pm

    I have been with my husband in the military for the that 11 years supporting my husband and the military I was signed up to us the Mycaa account, and know I can not us the MYCAA account because my husband is an E6,The new people that come in t0 the military there spouses get the money for school or training.nothing against the new military spouses I support them too but if the military is going to cut back on money for the military spouses,it should not be on the spouses that have been there supporting the military for years, We have been there through the deployment of 6 months or longer and what ever other hard ship some of us have gone threw, even when are military spouses are gone. and we are still here,I think it is a slap in the face to us long time spouses that’s been hear. I think that the spouses that has been here for a long while supporting the military should get the money for train or school be for the New ones.

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