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NEWS | Jan. 17, 2020

Deadline near for program that gives Air Force spouses jump-start on career

By Robert Goetz 502nd Air Base Wing Public Affairs

The spouses of active-duty Air Force members now have an opportunity to enter a program that can start them on the path to a successful career.

The military and family readiness centers at two Joint Base San Antonio locations are accepting applications for the Air Force Aid Society Spouse Employment Program, a military spouse assistance program that pays for tuition, instructor fees and course materials so spouses are able to obtain the skills necessary to secure jobs in their community or on base.

This year’s program will fund five scholarships each at JBSA-Lackland and JBSA-Randolph, open only to spouses assigned or attached to those locations. The scholarships at JBSA-Lackland will fund training for medical billing and coding certification, while those at JBSA-Randolph will pay for a dental assistant training course at two University of the Incarnate Word locations.

Application deadline is Jan. 29 at both M&FRCs.

“Currently our military spouses are underemployed and typically overlooked for opportunities,” said Janet Harris, JBSA-Lackland M&FRC community readiness consultant and AFAS officer. “This program provides free entry-level job training to active-duty Air Force spouses to help secure employment opportunities. It’s a national certification and is transferable anywhere the recipients go.”

In the past, the program at JBSA has funded courses or training for careers ranging from cardiac rhythm analysis and pharmacy technicians to office administration positions and fitness trainers.

The scholarships are consequential because of the costs associated with them, said Brian Kenefick, JBSA-Randolph M&FRC community readiness consultant and AFAS officer.

“Each of the scholarships at Randolph is $4,500 per person,” he said. “The fact that we’re able to get five funded slots at nearly $23,000 is significant.”

The courses available to spouses are carefully chosen, Kenefick said.

“We do labor market research to see what jobs are available locally,” he said, “but we also get requests from spouses.”

Most of the courses offered in previous years have prepared spouses for careers in the health care industry, which provides numerous opportunities for job seekers. The courses offered this year continue that trend.

“The medical industry will account for 11.5 million more jobs by 2026; therefore, medical facilities will continue to hire qualified medical billers and coders,” Harris said, referring to the course offered through the JBSA-Lackland M&FRC. “It’s one of the fastest-growing careers in the health care industry today, with demand expected to increase through 2027, and it’s a truly portable career that can be done from home and anywhere in the world.”

Selections for the program are made by M&FRC staff members, Kenefick said.

“We try to accommodate the most deserving of spouses and those who have aspirations for a career in that area,” he said. “They don’t have to worry about money because it’s already funded.”

The program contributes to the Air Force mission by enhancing the educational and employment readiness of the spouse as well as the family’s financial preparedness, Kenefick said.

Scholarship recipients at JBSA-Randolph will have four opportunities to take the dental assistant course – 6-9 p.m. Monday and Wednesday, Feb. 10-April 29, and 6-9 p.m. Monday and Wednesday, Sept. 14-Dec. 9, at the UIW Dental Assistant Program on Common Street in New Braunfels and 6-9 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday, April 21-July 9, and 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, May 16-Aug. 8, at the UIW Northwest Campus, 9729 Datapoint Drive.

The medical billing and coding course for JBSA-Lackland spouses will be offered from 9 a.m. to noon Monday, Wednesday and Friday, Feb. 10-June 3 at the M&FRC, 2160 Kenly Ave.

In addition to the spouses of active-duty Air Force personnel, the AFAS program is open to the spouses of Air Force Reserve and Air National Guard members activated on Title 10 orders for the duration of approved training.

Spouses chosen for the program will be notified in early February.

For more information, call the JBSA-Lackland M&FRC, 671-3722, or the JBSA-Randolph M&FRC, 652-5321.