During the month of May, CDP is focusing on reintegration. For Service members and military families reintegration can occur across a variety of events or experiences. It can be following a Service member’s deployment or a temporary duty assignment. It can also refer to transitioning from military life to civilian life. I initially planned to share about my transition from active duty service to Veteran status and the resources available to Service members. However, as I was doing some initial research I came across a program that supports military spouses throughout their military journey. Given that there are not a lot of resources focused on spouse transition, and being a military spouse myself, I was eager to find out more. The program is called the Military Spouse Transition Program or MySTeP for short (https://myseco.militaryonesource.mil/portal/mystep).
MySTeP is offered through Military OneSource and the Spouse Education and Career Opportunities (SECO) program. By the way, if you are a military spouse and you have not heard of the SECO program, I encourage you to check it out. It has great resources specific to military spouse education/training, employment and career connections. Additionally, they host MySTeP, which is an online tool that introduces military spouses to programs, resources, benefits, and tools that can help them navigate military life with the ultimate goal of preparing for the time when their Service member spouse transitions out of the military. When I reached out to the SECO program I was informed that MySTeP is a fairly new program that had a soft launch on 30 July 2019. One of the things I appreciate about the MySTeP program is that there are different areas of focus depending on where spouses are in their military journey: Stepping In, Stepping Through, and Stepping Beyond.
Stepping In: This is a great resource for new military spouses and helps guide them on where to begin. There is information on how to achieve education and career goals in the military environment to include building social and professional support networks. This section also covers information on volunteering, how to build a resume, and financial readiness. I appreciate that there are practical resources such as how to find child care in the community, as well as financial support and assistance available to military families.
Stepping Through: This section can assist spouses with thriving throughout their military experience and builds off topics introduced in Stepping In. Stepping Through covers topics such health and well-being, PCS moves, educational opportunities, career advancement, and additional information on financial readiness. It includes a deeper dive into available resources and programs that allow spouses to be prepared to make decisions for a successful transition from military to civilian life. Stepping Through focuses a lot on employment and career goals to include access to the MySECO Resume Builder. There is helpful information on the Military Spouse Residency Relief Act, which provides clarification about residency, voting, and taxation. There is also a section on relocation that has information on how to plan your move and local resources for military families.
Stepping Beyond: This section focuses on what spouses need to know and do to prepare to leave the military. It covers a variety of topics focused on post-military benefits, health care, and financial preparedness. There is information on how benefits will change and what military families need to do to ensure they are on track to meet their financial goals. There are videos on building a transition fund, Thrift Savings Plan considerations, as well as how to manage stress during and after transitioning from the military. Some of the handout topics include: financial planning, health care coverage considerations, finding local mental health services during and after transitioning from the military, as well as information on transitions from the military with school-aged children or with a child with special needs.
Please note that anyone can access the MySTeP website. However, military spouses meeting the following criteria are eligible to participate in the SECO program and establish a MySECO profile:
One benefit of establishing a MySECO profile is that after you register you can bookmark your favorite MySTeP videos and handouts. There are also additional benefits specific to the SECO website and resources such as speaking to a SECO career coach and utilizing the MySECO Resume Builder. You will either need to create or access your Department of Defense DS Logon, which is a secure, self-service logon ID that allows you to access multiple websites (e.g., TRICARE) using a single username and password.
If you are a military spouse or work with military connected families, this is a great resource to know about. I encourage all military spouses to check-out MySTeP no matter where they are in their military journey to help prepare for transitions and challenges along the way. I will definitely be utilizing this helpful tool as my military family begins our final few years in our military adventure.
The opinions in CDP Staff Perspective blogs are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of the Uniformed Services University of the Health Science or the Department of Defense.
Lisa French, Psy.D., is the Chief of Staff at the Center for Deployment Psychology (CDP) at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences in Bethesda, Maryland.