Family Forum 2 highlights military spouse employment 

10/11/2011 5:00 PM 

Two programs promoting employment opportunities for Army spouses were highlighted by Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Army for Manpower and Reserve Affairs Anthony J. Stamilio at the Association of the United States Army’s Annual Meeting and Exposition Tuesday Oct. 11 in Washington.

Stamilio noted that corporations do not need to be sold on hiring military spouses, one in four of whom is actively seeking work but unemployed.  He said  24 firms just joined the Military Spouse Employment Partnership (MCEP), bringing the total to 96. Partners pledge to identify and promote career opportunities for military spouses and to offer portable jobs to spouses who are relocating.

The program began in 2003 for Army spouses before encompassing, at corporations’ request, all four services.  In all,  90,000 spouses have been hired.  Currently, 54, 532 job openings are posted on the MCEP website. 

Stamilio also pointed to financial assistance available to junior-grade military spouses for education or training required for credentials that open up portable occupations or careers.  Spouses can obtain up to $2,000 a year and $4,000 in all. In the last fiscal year, 34, 090 Army spouses took advantage of these career advancement accounts.

Stamilio observed that the career fields the accounts program focuses on are in synch with the opportunities provided by the military’s corporate partners—banking, insurance, medicine, and retail. 

In answer to a question from an Army wife, Stamilio said there are no plans to extend the program to spouses of more senior personnel due to lack of funding.

Stamilio also praised Strong Bonds, a popular relationship-building program for both married couples and single soldiers.  It was recognized in the 2011 Family Action Plan for the Army Chief of Staff as “one of the premier programs that needs to be kept,” he said.

The 11-year old program, Stamilio noted, has grown like topsy, from 90 couples and four events to 275,000 participants and 5,300 events.  Training covers relationship, skills, and resilience.

“Yes, it works,” Stamilio said, citing an ongoing five-year study to measure its short and long-term impact.  Preliminary findings show that Strong Bonds couples had half the divorce rate of a group that did not take the training.