Executive Order Boosts Spouse Employment Opportunities

Executive Order Boosts Spouse Employment Opportunities

Spouse at a job interview
Photo by: U.S. Army/Misty Cunningham

A new executive order signed by President Joe Biden seeks to improve job opportunities and resources for military spouses, caregivers and survivors.

“The most sacred obligation America has is to prepare those we send into harm’s way and care for them and their families when they come home or deploy,” Biden said June 9 during a visit to Fort Liberty, North Carolina, where he signed the executive order. “This new executive order establishes the most comprehensive set of administrative actions in our nation’s history to support the economic security of military families, veterans’ spouses, caregivers and survivors.”

The order includes almost 20 actions and focuses on increasing flexibility, support and employment resources, Biden said. These moves could make a big difference for military spouses. About one-fifth of military spouses are unemployed, and spouses of junior enlisted soldiers reported feeling underemployed, according to data from DoD’s 2021 Active Duty Spouse Survey.

Among the changes, the order “encourages all federal agencies to retain military spouses through flexible policies,” Biden said. These policies accommodate military life by granting military spouses leave during permanent change-of-station moves and offering more remote work opportunities, including for military spouses who are stationed outside of the U.S.

In addition to increasing access to affordable child care, the order also is working to bridge the gap between hiring managers and military families. “This executive order establishes new training for federal human resources and hiring personnel to ensure that all our military and veteran spouses, caregivers, and survivors feel seen and supported,” Biden said.

Spouse employment is a critical priority for the Army as it works to retain soldiers and take care of families.

“Having had the honor of being an Army spouse for 30 years, I have seen firsthand how important spouse employment and access to child care are to our Army, soldiers and families,” said Holly Dailey, director of Family Readiness at the Association of the U.S. Army. “AUSA welcomes these important actions by our nation’s leaders to provide more support and resources to military families.”

Supporting military families will remain a key part of sustaining the all-volunteer force, Biden said.

“You have your loved ones’ backs just like they have the country’s back,” he said. “The only way to keep this force strong for the next 50 years, and 50 after that and the 50 after that, is if we keep our promises—if we uphold the sacred obligation we bear to our military members, our veterans, our spouses, caregivers, and survivors.”

To read more about the executive order, click here and here.