Military Spouse Fellowships—Career Options for Family Members

“A study published by Blue Star Families, which advocates for military families, found that military spouses have an unemployment rate of 32 percent.”

The Military Spouse Fellowship Program for 2017 just awarded fellowships to 50 military spouses seeking to earn their AFC (Accredited Financial Counselor) designation to provide military service members and their families one-on-one and group financial counseling and education, all at no cost to them.

The AFC certification provides the education and experience to earn the highest standard in financial counseling and education. This program affords military spouses not only the education necessary to enter the financial counseling career field, but also the opportunity to earn a career-enhancing credential that is nationally recognized. That is a huge benefit.

A study published by Blue Star Families, which advocates for military families, found that military spouses have an unemployment rate of 32 percent. No surprise there. During our years as an active duty military family, we were stationed literally all over the United States and Europe, moving every 2-3 years. The process was at times stressful, and as a military spouse, I often changed jobs and careers, which meant a disruption in income while at the same time adjusting to living in a new location.

Perfectly suited to military families on the move, the AFC program opens doors for a portable and rewarding career with marketable job skills.

While meeting a demonstrated need for enhanced financial education and resources in the military community, one 2017 fellowship recipient said, “I was stoked because of the opportunity to extend my career options, but most importantly, being able to help families and communities gain control of their financial needs.”

“I think that anytime military spouses can get things like this and be successful with them, it’s great for the community. I hope to focus more on financial counseling and helping military families with this licensure,” said a Navy spouse.

Through the program, fellows take online classes and gain experience in the field. Fellows undergo rigorous training, coursework and experiential hours to gain hands-on experience. After completion of the program, Fellows are certified to support the military community as financial counselors at family readiness and support centers, credit counseling and tax centers, financial aid offices and credit unions throughout the US and abroad.

The fellowship covers the costs associated with completing the Associated Financial Counselor training and testing. Upon successful completion of the program and required practicum, the participant will be awarded the Accredited Financial Counselor designation from the Association for Financial Counseling and Planning Education (AFCPE).

Since its inception in 2006, the National Military Family Association (NMFA) has awarded 1,500 fellowships to military spouses earning the AFC designation.

“I applied to the fellowship because I want to counsel new active and guard military couples and singles on the financial challenges of this chapter of their lives,” said one Air Force Sioux Falls, SD spouse, who will begin her AFC training as a 2017 Fellow. “I love helping people find resources to help them ‘bloom where they are planted’ and also to be prepared for military life’s frequent surprises.”

The program is open to spouses of active-duty or retired Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, Coast Guard, and Army or Air National Guard or reserve component service members, as well as spouses of US Public Health Service Commissioned Corps and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration professionals.

The date the fellowship application becomes available changes slightly from year to year, but it is typically opened in late February or early March and remains open for six weeks. The application can be found here.

Many employers such as credit unions, financial aid offices, and community housing agencies need well-trained, ethical and caring financial counselors to meet the increasing demand for financial counseling services.

Military spouses can fill this need while building a rewarding career that is flexible to the demands of the military family lifestyle. Getting more military spouses certified in financial readiness not only benefits the family, but also brings expertise to their military community that can help others make smart decisions for their families, too.

The opinions expressed here by contributors are their own and are not the view of OpsLens which seeks to provide a platform for experience-driven commentary on today's trending headlines in the U.S. and around the world. Have a different opinion or something more to add on this topic? Contact us for guidelines on submitting your own experience-driven commentary.
Dr. Katherine Harris

Dr. Katherine (Kat) Harris is a veteran spouse, expat, and former military contractor with over 20 years of expertise in military/family transition, career counseling, higher education, organizational strategic planning, and international relations. She has conducted seminars and workshops for many Department of Army commands, plus many non-profit and community associations. She served as a translator and liaison for American, British, French, and German civilian/military communities in Berlin and Helmstedt, Germany. Academically, Dr. Harris holds a Bachelor of Science in Management Studies from The University of Maryland European Division, a Master of Arts in International Relations from Boston University, and a Doctorate in Education from Rowan University with an emphasis in leadership and higher education in a global context.

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