Your Coast Guard family’s permanent change of duty station (PCS) move is now supported by two new programs offered by Coast Guard Mutual Assistance (CGMA). As of Jan. 1, 2022, both programs operate year-round and provide compensation toward specific family relocation fees. The first is a grant, called the Education Advocate Grant, and the second is a no-interest loan, called the Spouse Professional Requirements Loan Program.
CGMA’s Chief Operation Officer Sean Fennell explains that the programs were motivated by CGMA’s “never ending quest to be family friendly” and make life easier for Coast Guard members when they transfer duty stations. CGMA’s Education Committee proposed the new programs at a board meeting in November 2021; both were approved unanimously by the board to roll out at the start of 2022.
“The Education Advocate Grant provides a grant for families who have to navigate a new school system for their special needs dependents pursuant to PCS orders,” said Fennell who is also a retired Coast Guard chief warrant officer.
The Education Advocate Grant (EAG) provides reimbursement to families that need to hire an education advocate to help them navigate the school system with their special needs dependents. The grant reimburses up to $500 for the cost of an advocate’s assistance in initiating or completing a new Individualized Education Plan (IEP) or an Individual Family Support Plan (IFSP).
“Parents of children with special needs have the burden of becoming the expert on their kid’s requirements so we want to come alongside them in that process to make sure the parents have extra support, especially as they are moving,” said Erica Chapman, CGMA’s education services specialist and fundraiser manager.
As for Coast Guard spouses, the Spouse Professional Requirements loan program is designed to help with the cost of a spouse being licensed or certified in a new state or municipality when they are relocated. Loans can be authorized up to $5,000 for this purpose, interest-free.
“We found that spouses who follow their active duty member to their duty stations, experience career delays because they have to file for new certifications,” Chapman said. “So we decided to support them—anything that requires you to recertify in a new state, from nursing to accounting to massage therapy you are welcome to apply.”
“The Spouse Professional Requirements Loan helps families with the cost of licensing or certification in a new state or municipality,” Fennell said “Both programs help bolster the financial resiliency of the Coast Guard family.”
Applications for both programs are available on CGMA’s website.