JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska —
U.S. Air Force spouses are now able to apply for 2018 Air Force Aid Society’s spouse employment scholarships offered through the Military & Family Readiness Center at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson.
This year the AFAS scholarships are for Medical Office Assistant training certification. Last fall, three JBER spouses were able to earn their certificates after being awarded scholarships by the AFAS Spouse Employment Program.
The MFRC community readiness specialists offer this annual scholarship to provide spouses with employment skills.
“To help spouses secure almost immediate, viable employment, the AFAS Spouse Employment Program provides entry-level job training to our active-duty Air Force spouses,” said Michael Baty, 673d Force Support Squadron Family Support Group community readiness specialist. “We also work with the local community colleges to tailor training that matches requirements of local employers interested in hiring military spouses.”
One of the many benefits of this program is that it only takes five to six weeks to gain a certification. One of the 2017 scholarship recipients, Tanya Dettlinger, spouse of Chief Master Sgt. Charles Dettlinger, 3rd Maintenance Squadron fabrication flight chief said this was especially important to her.
“I was so excited about this program - the fact that it only took six weeks in training to end up with my certification made it seem more attainable,” Dettlinger said. “This scholarship truly opened up so many possibilities for me and my family within such a short amount of time.”
When spouses are considering new employment in their new duty locations, some may simply take jobs that are easily accessible or fit the family’s needs the quickest. Dettlinger found out she gained more than just a job.
“I have always worked jobs that were beneficial to me staying at home to meet the needs of my family and ultimately my active-duty spouse,” Dettlinger said. “For me, the decision to pursue this was very personal. Being a military spouse, you are always there supporting your husband, and starting over every single time you move isn’t easy. This was a great opportunity for me to gain a career, not just another job.”
While there are many benefits to completing a program like this, others may believe obstacles prevent them from applying. Jessica Walosin, one of the other 2017 scholarship recipients and spouse of Air Force Master Sgt. Eric Walosin, 673d LRS heavy equipment shop section chief, found herself facing such hurdles.
“I would tell spouses who might be pondering careers of their own to take a chance, because you never know what can happen,” Walosin said. “Often, the stressors we feel or the challenges we face feel limiting — but they do not have to be. Winning this scholarship gave me a purpose; I was able to combine all of the education and life experiences I’ve had and apply them towards something tangible.”
Even when child care, fears of completing programs and other outside factors cause apprehension, it is important to look into these programs, Walosin said.
Christy Rodriguez, a community readiness specialist at the MFRC, aims to help alleviate some of these obstacles with a program that is more flexible.
“Childcare is often a challenge for our military spouses,” Rodriguez said. “This can especially be problematic when money is tight and schedules are demanding. Selecting programs that easily fit into our military lifestyle is key.”
This year’s training is accomplished through a nationally accredited distance-learning online certificate program through Blackstone Career Institute. The program is designed to provide flexible education and career training that is easily accessible, while reducing issues such as childcare expenses, Rodriguez said.
“The 2018 scholarship funding affords our JBER Air Force spouses the opportunity to compete for scholarships, and to receive medical office assistant training from the BCI online program,” Rodriguez said.
If spouses are interested in obtaining one of these unique scholarships, they need to visit the MFRC and complete an application and essay. The packet goes before a panel, and the beneficiaries are selected and then notified.