By Brittany Colsuanno

Photo: DVIDS, PO3 Joseph E. Montemarano

I was up to my eyeballs in paperwork when our Education Service Officer walked into my office and asked me to accompany her to a meeting regarding Coast Guard Mutual Assistance and Education benefits.

I worked at a satellite campus for a popular aeronautical university. I was a VA Certifying official and academic adviser for active duty members and veterans. It was a part of my job to stay up-to-date on all education benefits. While I understood wanting me there for the education benefit update, I didn’t understand why I needed to stay for the whole meeting when only three minutes of the discussion would benefit me.

Fast forward only three years later and I’m married to a Coastie. Along with my husband, daughter, and yellow lab, we recently went through our first PCS from North Carolina to Kodiak, Alaska. What I learned from Coast Guard benefits meetings has continued to help and guide me in my life as a spouse now.

There are tons of resources for military families and spouses that are not as well-known as they should be. The military continues to show its appreciation to military families through various resources.

1. MyCAA Scholarship

Black Female College Graduate HBCU IMG_5824 from Flickr via Wylio
© 2008 Steven Depolo, Flickr | CC-BY | via Wylio

The Military Spouse Career Advancement Account (MyCAA) program is designed to help eligible military spouses gain the necessary training to start a career that will offer opportunities no matter where they PCS. Eligible spouses receive $4,000 for approved training programs. Only spouses of active duty Army, Navy, Marine, Air Force, or National Guard service members in pay grades E1-E5, O1-O2, or W1-W2 are eligible for MyCAA funding. Unfortunately, Coast Guard spouses are not covered under MyCAA because MyCAA is offered through the Department of Defense and not the Department of Homeland Security. However, if you are a Coast Guard spouse and find a program covered by MyCAA that you are interested in, contact the school. Some schools will offer discounts on tuition to Coast Guard spouses.

2. Post-9/11 GI Bill

Old Main at Penn State from Flickr via Wylio
© 2008 shidairyproduct, Flickr | CC-BY | via Wylio

For approved programs, the Post-9/11 GI Bill can pay for up to 36 months of education benefits, BAH, and a book stipend. Active duty members have the option to transfer all or some of their remaining GI Bill to any combination of dependents. They can transfer it all to one individual or split it between family members. The attending school will bill the VA directly for tuition.

3. Assistance Funds

American Money from Flickr via Wylio
© 2011 401(K) 2012, Flickr | CC-BY-SA | via Wylio

Each military branch has its own assistance fund that offers hardship and educational loans. This is called the Mutual Assistance fund in the Coast Guard, but each branch has a different name for it. These loans are interest-free. If your family has hit a bump in the road or maybe just needs extra tuition assistance, this is something you should check out.

4. VA Home Loans

houses for sale sign from Flickr via Wylio
© 2011 Images Money, Flickr | CC-BY | via Wylio

VA Home Loans are available to veterans, active duty, and surviving spouses. These home loans allow you to purchase a home with a $0 down payment, low-interest rates, no monthly mortgage insurance premiums, and no minimum credit score required.

5. Childcare Assistance

Bryce's Kindergarten Celebration from Flickr via Wylio
© 2013 Clintus, Flickr | CC-BY-SA | via Wylio

Operation Military Child Care provides fee assistance for families of deployed or mobilized active duty, Reserves, and National Guard during the duration of their deployment. Military Child Care In Your Neighborhood offers fee assistance for families who are unable to access on-post or on-base childcare. The Coast Guard offers the USCG Child Care Subsidy program. Families qualify based on their Total Family Income.

These 5 military programs will put money back in your pocket

Brittany comes from a true Coast Guard family. Her father, two brothers, and husband have all served in the USCG. Brittany now lives in Alaska where her husband is stationed. She spends her days chasing around her daughter and two yellow labs while dreaming of warmer weather. She blogs at about military life, parenting, and fitness. You can find her on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram ,and Pinterest.