WASHINGTON -- Another service branch has taken action after a WUSA9 investigation into delays getting reimbursement money to military spouses. Late this week, the Marines announced their re-licensing reimbursement program to change that.
If you're married to someone in the military, chances are you have to start over your career every time your family moves. For most military spouses that’s every two to three years. And, if you're in a field that requires a license or certification, you need to pay the costs to get new ones over and over again.
Amse Heck loved helping people find their new homes as realtor in Pennsylvania. When the Air Force moved her husband to Northern Virginia, starting her career over wasn't easy.
“I had built a business by knowing people in an area that I had lived for a while,” Amse told WUSA9. “Then, we came here and I didn't know anyone.”
The couple added up the costs of taking classes, getting a new license, joining a new brokerage -- they couldn't swing it. The Hecks realized it would be too expensive for Amse to continue her realty career in Virginia.
“That made it very tough for us because we were both used to my having an income,” she recalled. “I was used to contributing to the bills.”
We reported Congress passed a law to help with this very issue. It allowed each service branch to reimburse military families for certain re-licensing costs when they're moved. Spouses can get back up to $500.
The law was negotiated back in 2017. When our original investigation aired three weeks ago, not one dollar had been paid.
The Marines just put out specific instructions for how spouses can apply for the reimbursement. They join the Army and the Air Force. All three took a year and a half to come up with policies.
Here’s the good news: payments in each branch will be retroactive. They'll reimburse spouses who have had to eat these costs in the time since the law passed.
Amse believes this is a way to support to the husbands and wives, who support our armed forces.
“I think that would have made a big difference,” she added. “We would have found a way if that program had existed back then.”
Right now, the Navy is the only Department of Defense branch without a program.
“As announced in NAVADMIN 103/19, the Navy is finalizing its policy and procedures to allow for reimbursement of up to $500 of spouse state licensure or certification costs arising from relocation from one state to another due to a permanent change of station move, and will release the policy and procedures in June,” Lt. Rick Moore, Chief of Naval Personnel spokesperson, said.
The Coast Guard has not responded to multiple emails about this issue.