Helping Military Spouses Find Jobs


The latest unemployment figures for military spouses stands at a monstrous 26 percent. TWENTY SIX percent.  And compared to our civilian counterparts, job for job, qualification for qualification, the wage gap has been noted to be up to 42 percent in some jobs.  So, as you can imagine, in the latest survey by Blue Star Families, employment issues ranked in the top 5 as a concern for military spouses.

“Forty-nine percent of spouses felt that being a military spouse had a negative impact on their ability to pursue a career, while only eight percent felt that it had had a positive impact.”  Out of those unemployed, over 60 percent wanted to be working.

When the Chamber of Commerce decided to establish Hiring Our Heroes, they knew they had to include spouses.  They hired long time military family advocate Laura Dempsey (no relation to the current Chairman of the Joint Chiefs) and she has been working very hard ever since.  She has seen a huge emotional response from spouses who have become accustomed to being ignored when job hunting; and who have been historically unable to find positions when they move, yet again, to a new post.

As she said, most of the spouses are used to being included in programs as “and spouse.”  And that spouse can be a deciding factor in their service-member’s decision to either stay in or get out.  Even now, while we are shrinking our military, the need for the management level, the need for that experienced NCO or Captain isn’t going away.  If Sgt Jones’ spouse has a degree (and loans) and a career that has been interrupted time after time, that spouse is probably going to have something to say about getting out now or staying in. If PFC Smith’s spouse needs to make some extra cash after another move – will she be able to?

Vivian Greentree, PhD., Blue Star Families Director of Research and Policy, will be presenting the project “Making Volunteerism Work for You” at the Hiring Our Heroes Spouse Fair at Fort Hood, Texas. Many military spouses, who cannot find a paying job, will volunteer their knowledge and hours upon hours of time.  They run groups, they raise thousands of dollars for programs, they give millions of hours a year to military and nonmilitary programs.

When asked what she was most excited about, Dr. Greentree told me “What is so great about recent strides in military spouse employment — both by the DoD , through MSEP (Military Spouse Employment Partnership), and through the Chamber’s Hiring Our Heroes hiring fairs is that it is changing the way we talk about military spouses and employment.  Military spouses are seen as assets with real skills and experience to bring to the table.”

As veterans are given resume writing lessons, to translate that military jargon into corporate terminology, spouses need to translate their volunteerism into job skills.  The problems we have when we attempt to keep our career moving forward, as we move from post to post, state to state, or country to country, are also being addressed; corporations who have stepped forward and promised to make a difference are assisting spouses who are employed at one location to find a position in their company at the subsequent location.  The problems of transferring licenses, tenure and transferability of schooling are also currently being addressed.

When I asked Dr. Greentree what she sees as a difference with Hiring Our Heroes and other new spouse employment initiatives, she observed “Other resources, to date, have either been in a certain sector, or a certain education level, a certain branch, or hourly or executive level only.  But none were comprehensive and addressed the needs of all the different spouses, given their differing backgrounds.”

That’s the difference.  At the upcoming Fort Hood Hiring Our Heroes fair, more than 1,000 spouses have registered.  There will be resume workshops, presentations, workshops, makeovers and networking opportunities.  As Hiring Our Heroes begins their second year, and the military shrinks as demanded under the Budget agreement, these spouses will need to be ready to support their families.


Related Stories:

Hiring Our Heroes — Veterans

Family Medical Leave Act Amendments for Military Families and Caregivers

Thank You For Your Service: A Military Spouse Reflects on Veterans Day


Photo from Chamber of Commerce Hiring Our Heroes


Alesia Farias
Alesia Farias5 years ago

There is no escaping the fact that we are living in a 2 - income economy. Our military serves our country often with their lives. Without them where would we be? They show our force, presence and help keep war at bay. The families are often moved on a regular basis with military spouse/parent. We need to honor them and aid them in any way we can.

Mercedes Lackey
Mercedes Lackey5 years ago

Evidently they plan on sending the military spouse and kids to China, since that is where all the jobs are. And hey, no child labor laws! Everyone can work!

Allen Pierce
Allen Pierce5 years ago

In recent years the DOD has begun to recognize that the military member and spouse are a team, and that the service member's ability to serve is greatly dependent upon the spouse's willingness to support that service. And not just at re-enlistment time. Sending someone on a deployment when they are worried about what is happening at home with the kids and their welfare does not work well. Getting things at home properly taken care of is as much a part of mission planning as knowing who the enemy is. We are long overdue in looking after the needs of these mostly silent partners to our military success. This job support is greatly needed, and will improve overall military readiness, as well as the happiness and family life of our military's Domestic Teams.

And Darla S.; Thank You and your husband for your many years of Service to the Nation. I, for one, greatly appreciate it.

Rob Keenan
Rob Keenan5 years ago

Rachel Maddow did an excellent story last night about this.She also revealed that there are now 1million unemployed veterans of the Iraq and Afghan wars,something I can identify with from when I got out of the military in 1970. This is just one example of government having a legitimate part in creating jobs-as through highway bills-when the private economy isn't creating them quite fast enough.

Joy Dantine
Joy Dantine5 years ago

I believe anyone relative to the military needs a job within the remaining military sector - say V.A. of this place, position them with a platform - even consider for political positions. Women tough enough to tangle with anything related to war - is stronger in numbers. Ladies, I applaud you like no other group of women - just like I applaud the men like no other group of men, especially if you are still standing by your convictions. For we all are still in the fight of our life and that, I know, includes all others around you - and me.

Bruce K.
Bruce K5 years ago

How are they going to help find jobs any differently ? When there are no jobs to be found?

Marianne C.
Marianne C5 years ago

Th song and dance many military spouses get is that they have no way of knowing how long they can plan to be in a job, or how short a notice they can give when leaving. Military spouses having been traditionally women has also added to the casual disregard of their need for wages and benefits. There have always been employers who believed that underpaying a military wife was acceptable because she was getting a big government stipend, anyway. She isn't -- she never was -- but the belief was enough to make it okay to exploit their financial desperation.

Donna Hamilton
Donna Hamilton5 years ago

Noted. Thanks for posting.

John Mansky
John Mansky5 years ago

Thank you for the article...

Glenn M.
Glenn Meyer5 years ago

I can help. The jobs are in China.

Corporations have over-powered our government which now believes that out-sourcing and off-shoring of U.S. jobs is inevitable and necessary with expectations that the middle class should fall on their swords. It is the underlying cause of the financial collapse and borders on national security with the loss of our middle class tax base. Yet, this nation does nothing, not even demand it be restricted by whatever method. International businesses are doing the UN-AMERICAN activity of destroying U.S. salaries, U.S. businesses that hire in the U.S., and as an end result, destroying the U.S. marketplace while still demanding BUSINESS ENTITLEMENTS and protections for themselves.

Infrastructure spending and tax breaks will not replace enough jobs to keep up with the hemorrhaging loss of U.S. jobs from out-sourcing over seas. Neither party will do anything about it unless we begin grass roots efforts to protest out-sourcing and off-shoring of U.S. jobs. If nothing is done we will deserve what we get and it will get a lot worse before it gets better.