The Army and Air Force have announced their plans to begin reimbursing spouses up to $500 for professional credentials or licensing fees required when they relocate to a new state for a military move.
Under the new policies, spouses can receive a maximum of $500 to offset the costs associated with relicensing or applying for professional credentials following a permanent change of station or assignment move.
The benefit was included in the Fiscal 2018 National Defense Authorization Act. Reimbursements will be backdated to Dec. 12, 2017, the date the bill was signed.
"Part of taking care of airmen and families means making it easier for spouses to continue their careers after a military move," Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson said in a news release. "This policy reduces financial burdens and makes the professional careers of our Air Force spouses more portable."
"Our spouses are lawyers, nurses, teachers, cosmetologists and real estate agents," said Dee Geise, with the office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Manpower and Reserve Affairs. "[The new policy] eases part of the stress of the cost associated with relicensing after a PCS move."
According to an All Army Activities message released last week, spouses who are eligible for the reimbursement will need their soldier -- Army, Army National Guard or Army 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.
To be eligible for the payment, spouses must have received a new license due to a PCS move, and the new license must be in their existing career field.
According to the Air Force policy announced May 15, qualifying costs must be incurred and paid within 24 months of the military member's orders being authenticated.
Fees for certification in some professions, including exams and licensing, can run upward of $1,000, depending on the line of work. Military spouses and family advocates say that encouraging states to enter reciprocity agreements for credentials, as well as reimbursing for licensing, may help reduce the military spouse unemployment rate, estimated to be between 16% and 24%.
By law, the Navy and Marine Corps must follow suit, but neither has issued policies. The Navy sent out a message on Military Spouse Appreciation Day, May 10, saying it will release its policy in June.
Marine Corps officials said development of the policy is in its final stages and it is "due out any day."
Information on how Marine spouses can apply will be released in an MARADMIN, according to Marine Corps Manpower and Reserve Affairs.
According to ALARACT 036/2019, reimbursements to soldiers' spouses will be made by electronic deposit. Spouses are eligible for the reimbursement once per duty station.
Military personnel who apply for the benefit may expect a separate W-2 form for the payment at the beginning of each year because it will count as extra taxable income, according to the service.
Details will soon be posted on Military OneSource, according to the Army.
Editor's Note: This story was updated May 22 to include information on the Marine Corps' policy.