By Thomas Brading
Army News Service
Army spouses can now apply for reimbursement of up to $2,500 in professional relicensing expenses through Army Emergency Relief when they move to another state.
Last month, top Army officials announced a $500 limit on relicensing costs for military spouses for permanent change-of-station moves. However, if additional funds are needed for relicensing, AER will help offset those costs for eligible spouses.
The new category of AER assistance went into effect June 5.
“We at AER are constantly looking to expand our categories of assistance to even better support the Army team,” said retired Lt. Gen. Raymond Mason, AER director. “One key is the challenge of PCS moves and the demands that it places on Army Families; this is especially true for working spouses whose jobs require certification/licensing for every new state they live in.
“This is the right thing to do for our Families who give so much to their Soldier and our nation,” he added June 12 during the Association of the U.S. Army “Hot Topic” symposium on installation management.
The first step for spouses is knowing the certification requirements in their new state. If assistance is necessary, spouses who are eligible for the reimbursement will need their Soldier — whether active duty, National Guard or Reserve — to apply for the reimbursement at their command.
They will need a completed SF 1034 form, known as a Public Voucher for Purchases and Services Other Than Personal form, a copy of their PCS orders, and copies of the old state license or certification, the new license or certification, marriage certificate, and proof of fees paid.
Soldiers and their spouses will be able to apply for this assistance within 180 days of arrival to their new location by presenting the license or certification from the previous state along with their application, which they can find on aerhq.org.
“AER will provide a loan for the initial $500 up front, so spouses are able to enact their recertification or licensing right away, knowing the Army will reimburse them,” said Krista Anderson, military spouse ambassador for AER. “If the costs exceeds $500, they’ll be able to apply through AER for additional funds. The application process better determines if it should be a loan, grant, or combination of both.”
The change came as a response to multiple surveys that show the rate of underemployment among military spouses increases exponentially with each move and that it’s a top stressor according to Soldiers and their Families.
AER hopes that with this new category of assistance in place, more spouses will be able to gain or maintain employment with each move.
The program is intended to assist Army Families by lessening the financial burden faced when moving to a new duty location.
The requirements for local and state-level occupational licenses and certifications can vary depending on the career. Many spouses are unable to practice their professions until they meet the requirements of the new state.
The financial strain of regularly relicensing can take a toll on talented, professional individuals.
“How this helps spouses is assistance in certification licenses portability,” said Col. Steve Lewis, chief of Family programs for the Office of the Assistant Chief of Staff for Installation Management. “Community partners are investing in human capital and the talents military spouses have. Employers benefit from their skills.”
AER is the Army’s emergency financial assistance organization and is dedicated to “helping the Army take care of its own.”
AER financial assistance is conducted within the Army structure by mission commanders and garrison commanders through AER sections located at Army installations worldwide.
“We are very excited AER is taking the $500 service cap limit all the way to $2,500 for spouses’ licensures,” said Lt. Gen. Gwendolyn Bingham, assistant chief of staff for installation management. “We want our spouses and service members to know how important they are. We are doing everything we can to help spouses find meaningful work and sustain their careers.”