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My Coast Guard
Commentary | Aug. 7, 2020

Dear Coast Guard Family: Spouse License and Certification Reimbursement Program and other employment initiatives

By Rachel Conley, Ombudsman, U.S. Coast Guard

Military spouses embody characteristics that are highly desirable to employers.  They are dedicated, adaptable, driven, resourceful … I could go on and on (military spouses are amazing!) … yet, they experience significantly higher rates of unemployment and underemployment due to their military lifestyle.

To help mitigate these challenges, the Coast Guard will help you regain your professional credentials when you family PCSs to another state!

Through the Coast Guard’s License and Certification Reimbursement Program, members serving on active duty may be reimbursed up to $500 for their spouse’s qualified relicensing costs when they transfer from one state to another (including U.S. territories and the District of Columbia) due to permanent change of station (PCS) orders.  This reimbursement is retroactive to all assignments with an effective PCS departure date on or after Dec. 12, 2017.

To qualify for the reimbursement of costs associated with being relicensed or recertified in the new state (including exam and registration fees), the spouse must accompany the member to the new duty station on PCS orders that authorize movement of the member’s dependents at the government’s expense and the spouse must have engaged in the same profession at the prior duty station location.

“This program is a game-changer,” said Amy Vanderhaden, one of the Coast Guard’s Ombudsmen-at-Large and the spouse of Master Chief Petty Officer of the Coast Guard, Jason Vanderhaden.

“The fact that the Coast Guard is recognizing this and making spouse employment a priority shows their commitment to ensuring happy and healthy Coast Guard families.  We have incredible military spouses, who live Coast Guard life with tenacity. For them to be able to maintain their own careers and utilize their own talents, wherever the Coast Guard takes them, provides a source of fulfillment for spouses and helps retain Coast Guard members.” 

The Coast Guard has approximately 2,500 working military spouses, with about 10 to 20 percent of them in occupations that require some form of state licensing for their professional credentials.  To help reduce employment barriers and to enhance career opportunities for military spouses, many states allow expedited applications, temporary licenses, or license reciprocity. The U.S. Department of Labor’s website offers tools to research each state’s license options for military spouses and to find out where to apply for an occupational license in a new state.

Complete details on the Coast Guard’s License and Certification Reimbursement Program, including step-by-step reimbursement procedures, answers to frequently asked questions, and contact information, can be found on the Office of Military Personnel website. 

Additional Military Spouse Employment Initiatives and Resources:

The License and Certification Reimbursement Program isn’t the only way that the Coast Guard supports spouse employment – learn more here!  

  • Coast Guard spouses now have free access to LinkedIn Premium!
  • If you love working with kids and live in Coast Guard owned housing, check out the Coast Guard’s Family Child Care Program – this thriving business opportunity may be the right fit for you!  Plus, eligible new family child care providers may be able to request larger housing and/or apply for a grant from the Coast Guard Foundation to assist with start-up costs – learn more here
  • Hiring our Heroes offers a variety of robust programs to support military spouse employment and recently announced several new initiatives and partnerships at the 2019 Military Spouse Employment Summit.
  • Microsoft Military Spouse Technology Academy provides an intense 22-week onsite training program to empower military spouses with in-demand digital skills, leading to well-paying and meaningful careers.


“Dear Coast Guard Family” is a monthly column for Coast Guard families written by Coast Guard spouse, Rachel Conley. Rachel is married to her high school sweetheart, Chief Warrant Officer James Conley, and is the mother of three children. Rachel passionately serves as a Coast Guard Ombudsman and advocate of Coast Guard families. She is the recipient of numerous awards, including the United States Coast Guard Ombudsman of the Year Award.