Military Spouse Employment

Getting a Job: Initiatives for Military Spouse Employment

Michele Allen
MilitaryByOwner Advertising, Inc. 

As two income families become more of a necessity, military spouses are faced with more difficult challenges in obtaining and retaining quality employment.  Not only does the military spouse deal with frequent relocation and childcare challenges, there are significant hurdles for spouses that retain licenses to practice their vocation that vary from state to state.

Military spouses are more highly qualified than their civilian counterparts, 49% have a bachelor’s degree and over 86% have some college education.  Yet, they lag behind these same civilian counterparts with 25% greater rate of unemployment.  Additionally, they fall behind in the wage gap with 25% less earnings.

As awareness increases about challenges in employment that military spouses face, more steps are being taken to shine the light on the rich benefits of hiring a military spouse and creating partnerships to entice business America to partner with this deserving group.

The Military Spouse Employment Partnership is one of the new initiatives to further these objectives.  MSEP is part of DoD’s broader Spouse Education and Career Opportunities (SECO) initiative, which seeks to strengthen the education and career opportunities of military spouses by providing career exploration opportunities to help them understand their skills, interests, and goals; education and training to help them identify academic, licensing, or credentialing requirements that can help them reach their career goals; employment readiness assistance to optimize their self-marketing skills; and employment connections that help them find and maintain a rewarding career. MSEP, a targeted recruitment and employment solution, creates employment connections that provide companies with direct access to military spouses seeking career opportunities and spouses with direct access to employers who are actively recruiting.

The MSEP is part of First Lady Michele Obama’s Joining Forces Initiative.    Military spouse employment is not the only objective of Joining Forces, but recently major announcements have given some teeth to JF’s objectives to "mobilize all sectors of society to give our service members and their families the support and opportunities they have earned".  In February 2012, JF announced two strategies supported by the DOD to ease military spouse issues with professional licensing.  The goal of these strategies is for all 50 states to support license portability, honoring military spouse professional licenses or certification received from other states

Currently eleven states have approved legislation that supports license portability.  These states include Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Kentucky, Missouri, Montana, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, and Washington.  Thirteen states have proposed legislation that would positively impact military spouses if signed into law: Colorado, Delaware, Hawaii, Indiana, Kansas, Nebraska, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Virginia, and West Virginia.

Military Officers Association of America (MOAA) one of the key partners in the Joining Forces Initiative and an advocate for many military family issues, hosts events nationwide to help connect career oriented spouses with companies that realize the benefits that these employees bring to the table.  These career are a big start to a 2012 focus on military spouse employment by the Chamber of Commerce. Joining the effort is the Department of Defense's Military Spouse Employment Partnership (MSEP).  To date, the 96 organizations and companies in the partnership have hired more than 13,000 military spouses around the world.

So what is cementing this partnership between corporate America and military spouses?  A 2007 RAND Study, in conjunction with the National Defense Research Institute, published a report entitled "Working Around the Military" Revisited, looking at military spouse employment issues. The study revealed that when compared to a civilian spouse of similar status and goals, the military spouse was a more qualified and loyal employee.  They bring vision, diversity, experience and talents that often outshine their local civilian counterparts.  Military spouses are team oriented and loyal, a product of their sense of community and service. 

As legislative support increases for license and certificate portability, most hope to remove one of major hurdles that military spouses face.  Another trend helping to boost military spouse employment are telecommuting jobs.  Many careers, customer service, bookkeeping, transcription and more are rapidly moving to "work from home" professions that can move with the military spouse on their next PCS.  As companies look to cut costs, analysts expect more types of jobs to move to a virtual desk. 

The outlook is getting brighter for this talented employee pool.  Awareness, new imitative and technology make the employment pool more and more friendly.

For more information about connecting with businesses that partner with MOAA and MSEP read

"Get Employed: Military Spouse Resources".