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Army Tackles Spouse Unemployment

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U.S. Army
Thursday, October 24, 2019

The Army and Defense Department are putting more emphasis on tackling military spouse unemployment as the military increasingly sees the issue as critical to retaining the talent it needs in the ranks.

“We recruit the service member, we retain the family,” Marcus Beauregard, director of DoD’s state liaison office, said while speaking on a panel at the Brookings Institution on Oct. 21.

Most military families make the decision to stay or leave the service around the kitchen table, he said, and DoD is cognizant of that.

Senior Pentagon leaders understand that taking care of families is “an important part of the strategy to maintain lethality,” Beauregard said, and they’re looking to add language about taking care of military families into the National Defense Strategy “because it is essential.”

Frequent moves, whether across state lines or abroad, can create challenges in finding jobs, securing advancement opportunities and maintaining a steady career for spouses who are not in the military, especially if they need to fulfill licensure requirements.

“The Department of Labor put together a program to educate state boards on how better to serve military spouses based on best practices from several states,” Beauregard said.

Several states have implemented laws requiring or encouraging boards to grant expedited applications, temporary licenses or license recognition, such as through an interstate licensing agreement that allows people in certain occupations to practice in other states.

DoD has worked with the Department of Labor to create resources for military spouses looking for jobs, such as the License Recognition for Military Spouses guide.

“We see the Department of Labor as a good, solid partner,” he said. “Even when they’re not partnering with us, they’re considering the military spouse experience.”

Additional resources are also available through DoD’s Spouse Education and Career Opportunities website and the Military Spouse Employment Partnership, which connects spouses with hundreds of employers who are committed to hiring and retaining them.

Beauregard said the partnership has helped connect military spouses with almost 140,000 jobs through its process.