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Free LinkedIn Premium Spouse Program: Coasties and Loopholes

An announcement that LinkedIn is giving free Premium accounts to recently PCSed or transitioning military spouses was met with excitement this week by those who are eager to leverage the professional network to land a new gig.

But some were disappointed when they discovered they aren't included. And others were confused because this is a feature they already accessed.

First, in case you missed the news: LinkedIn will be providing a free year of Premium access to military spouses in conjunction with a PCS or within six months of a transition out of the military. They're going to officially open the program in a few months. This offer expands on a current program that gives a free, one year subscription to veterans.

We wanted to clear things up a little on these two different questions, so we hit up the people who know. Here's the deal.

No, Coast Guard spouses aren't included

Coast Guard spouses who read the news were disappointed to learn that, once again, they have been shut out from a benefit given to spouses of other military services. A confusing response sent from LinkedIn added to the chaos. So what's the deal?

The reason is simple, but the implications are not. Like most things, it comes down to funding.

The Coast Guard is not a service of the Defense Department, which manages Military OneSource and receives its funding streams. Instead, it is under the Department of Homeland Security. That means that Coast Guard members and their families do not qualify for Military OneSource benefits. Because this LinkedIn deal is done using the OneSource system for verification among other things, the Coast Guard is not included.

That's a painful pill to swallow, especially since Coasties PCS just like everyone else, often to very remote stateside locations (Kodiak, Alaska, anyone?). Defense Department officials tell us they're working on a way to expand this, but for now it's just the way it is.

Previous free premium was a 'happy accident'

After news of the upgrade was released, some spouses reported that they have had free Premium for a long time. How? By simply emailing LinkedIn customer support and asking for the upgrade.

But that upgrade freebie was never company policy the way the new one is, LinkedIn officials tell me.

"If an upgrade was previously provided to a military spouse, it would have been a happy accident on the part of one of our customer service reps," a LinkedIn spokesperson said.

In short, don't expect that upgrade loophole to continue.

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