A number of programs exist for military spouses seeking work 

 
Kasey Tanner, a Fort Jackson Family Child Care provider and military spouse, shows 15-month-old Elija Kirkland how to play with an educational toy. (Photo Credit: Kris Gonzalez)

Patty Barron

Director

AUSA Family Programs

Ask almost any military spouse what their biggest military lifestyle challenge is and many will respond: "Having a career."

The many moves that are part and parcel of marrying a soldier can wreak havoc on a spouses’ career aspirations.

According to the Report of the 2nd Quadrennial Quality of Life Review, 77 percent of military spouses report that they want or need to work.

In addition, according to White House numbers, there are over 100,000 military spouses with professional licenses who have trouble transferring their licenses as they move from state to state.

Military spouse unemployment is verging on 26 percent, more than double the national average.

The reality of today’s economic environment is such that the cost of even the most basic needs, food, fuel, and clothing has gone up.

Making ends meet and living paycheck to paycheck have never been more relevant in today’s military environment.

Add to it 10 years of war and multiple deployments and it’s no wonder that financial stress and hardships are on the rise.

There have been many promising programs and initiatives that have been created over the past several years aimed at making the process of finding and keeping employment easier for the military spouse.

As we celebrate Military Spouse Appreciation Day this May, it seemed appropriate that we take a look and update you on the progress of these outreach efforts.

DoD Spouse Education and Career Opportunities (SECO)

The Department of Defense Spouse Education and Career Opportunities (SECO) program is a holistic, spouse-centered program that provides comprehensive counseling services and employment connections to all military spouses.

Through its four pillars of service delivery; Career Exploration, Education and Training, Career Readiness, and Career Connections, SECO supports the career aspirations of military spouses throughout their mobile military lifestyle, regardless of pay grade or career status.

Among the most popular of the SECO programs are:

The MyCareer Advancement Accounts (MyCAA) program that provides up to $4,000 of financial assistance to spouses married to service members on Title 10 military orders in pay grades E1-E5, W1-W2 and O1-O2 if the spouse is pursuing an Associate’s degree, license or credential needed for portable career employment.

The Military Spouse Employment Partnership (MSEP) program includes 100 military friendly employers who have signed a statement of support with DoD to recruit, hire, retain and promote military spouses into portable careers and employment opportunities.

State liaison and educational opportunity

The DoD State Liaison Office has been working closely with the White House through the Joining Forces Initiative to ease professional licensing restrictions for out of state military spouses.

The state liaison office formed partnerships with state agencies and professional associations to educate state lawmakers about the unique challenges to military families.

The office promoted three strategies for breaking down employment barriers:

Facilitate endorsement of a current license from another state as long as requirements are substantially equivalent;

Provide a temporary or provisional license spouses can use to work while fulfilling state requirements; and

Expedite application procedures.

To date 11 states have adopted laws to aid spouse license portability and 15 have legislation pending or waiting to be introduced.

Women, veteran and military spouse employment program

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is working with Business and Professional Women’s (BPW) Foundation and Military Spouse Employment Partnership in an effort to help women veterans and military spouses find meaningful employment in the private sector.

In addition to collaborating with the White House on its Joining Forces initiative and connecting the business community with the Department of Defense on nationwide efforts to employ active duty spouses in the private sector, they are enlisting the support of American Chambers of Commerce abroad and global companies to help place military spouses in jobs overseas.

While all these programs and initiatives have made the road a bit easier to navigate, it still boils down to finding and maintaining a career path that works.

Military spouses will continue to explore and take advantage of the tools that have been provided and hopefully will find success at the end of the job exploration road.

Resources for military spouse employment

The Military Spouse Employment Partnership (MSEP). Over 100,000 jobs are posted at www.MSEPJobs.militaryonesource.mil. These partners have hired over 16.000 military spouses since program launch in June, 2011.

The www.USAJobs.gov web portal that holds federal employment information including job postings and information about military spouse hiring authorities and preferences.

100+ Job Fairs sponsored by the U.S. and local Chambers of Commerce nationwide http://www.uschamber.com/hiringourheroes/events.

The MyCareer Advancement Accounts (MyCAA). To open a MyCAA Account, visit: https://aiportal.acc.af.mil/mycaa.