About the Military Spouse Education Initiative (MSEI)
In July 2011, the MSEI was created after an overwhelming number of spouses began to share their educational challenges with Bianca Strzalkowski, who was serving as the 2011 Military Spouse of the Year. With her own student experience as a reference, she wanted to create a platform that would coincide with her own journey with completing her education and the voice of her peers'. She began meeting with decision makers of the Department of Defense, Congress, and private organizations. However, the greatest insight for the MSEI has come from YOU! Through your feedback and openness about the specifics of your hardships, the below 4 components have become the centerpiece of the Initiative's work today.
- Volunteer Experience to College Credit Program
- Courses that PCS with you
- Establishment of a Military Spouse Service Grant
- Childcare Tax Credit for Centers who Support Military Families
Action 1: Volunteer Experience to College Credit Program (VECC)
Military spouses volunteer within their branch family readiness programs, within nonprofit organizations, and within their communities. Often, that volunteerism equates to valuable skillsets that can be translated to college credit. Next step: Draft a policy letter to the Marine Corps, Coast Guard, Army, Air Force, and Navy encouraging them to adopt this program through the American Council on Education.
Action 2: Encourage the Department of Education to adopt a transferability policy for its institutions to accept credits for military spouses who transfer due to PCS orders.
While all classes may not translate to an exact course, at the very least they can be accepted as a completed elective. It will save military families time and money. Current action: We are working with the MSJDN on a policy letter to the Department of EDU.
Action 3: Create the foundation needed for Military Spouse Service Grants
Since the rank structure was changed for the Department of Defense’s MyCAA program, many senior spouses have felt left out of funding options. My goal is to work with the private sector to create a grant for all military spouses seeking any level of education. We do not wear rank and neither should our programs.
Action 4: Childcare Tax Credit for Military Friendly Centers
Childcare is a top hurdle of spouses who are seeking their education. We are balancing family commitments along with work and school. The goal is to work with NACCRRA on establishing a tax credit for those quality childcare centers that provide a tuition discount to spouses who are enrolled in a full time program.