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Hanscom spouse takes advantage of new relicense reimbursement program

HANSCOM AIR FORCE BASE, Mass. – An Air Force spouse here recently received reimbursement for the cost of an employment recertification following a permanent change of station move across state lines.

“I was the first spouse to go through this process at Hanscom and there was a bit of a learning curve for our Finance team and for DFAS [Defense Finance and Accounting Service] to overcome,” said Kristin Chioma. “But now that we've all gone through the process, future requests for reimbursement should go through smoothly.”

The new policy allows reimbursement of relicensing fees including exams, certifications and registration, and covers occupations such as teaching, cosmetology, real estate and nursing.

According to Air Force officials, the relicensing costs must take place with a 24-month window after the member’s change of station or change in assignment.

“The strength of the nation’s Air Force is not the platforms we operate or the technologies we employ; it is our Airmen and their families. Family readiness is Airman readiness,” said Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David L. Goldfein in an article from May announcing the new policy.

Prior to the change in policy, Chioma, a registered nurse, would have had to pay these expenses out-of-pocket.

“We would just pay the required fees and figure out how to add them to our expenses,” said Chioma, who is married to Col. Vincent Chioma, deputy director of Engineering at Hanscom.

The program, part of the 2018 National Defense Authorization Act, authorizes the reimbursement of up to $500 for occupational state relicensing and recertification costs spouses incur due to a PCS move. While some states authorize reciprocity types of occupational licenses, not all states do, resulting in the spouse needing to update a license or certification according to the new state’s requirements.

“Part of taking care of Airmen and families means making it easier for spouses to continue their careers after a military move,” said then-Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson. “This policy reduces financial burdens and makes the professional careers of our Air Force spouses more portable.”

Chioma highlighted the challenges spouses often face when moving to a new assignment.

“Regular PCS moves definitely take their toll on a spouse's career,” said Chioma. “The new policy takes away the stress from a move.”

Airmen and spouses can find more information about this program at www.afpc.af.mil/Benefits-and-Entitlements/Employment-Resources/.

General information about career and education programs for spouses is also available at the Department of Labor website at https://www.veterans.gov/milspouses and the Department of Defense Spouse Education and Career Opportunities Program at https://myseco.militaryonesource.mil