How to Use Your Resources to Maintain a Career (or Attend School!) as a MilSpouse

One of the most difficult things about being a military spouse is finding employment.

As a matter of fact, one in four military spouses are unemployed and seeking jobs. On average, they are also paid 25% less than their civilian counterparts. According to the research conducted by the Department of Defense (DoD), “A PCS move within the last year more than doubles the odds that an active duty spouse was unemployed.”

For most of us, it’s pretty easy to figure out why that statement rings true. Jobs don’t travel with us during a PCS, so we usually have to leave our jobs as we follow our service member to their next duty station. The DoD even reports that it takes an average of seven months for an active duty spouse to find employment after a PCS.

Education can also be a hard hitter for milspouses. A shocking 43% of active duty spouses say they are not enrolled in school or training programs, but would like to be. And 76% of those spouses say that the costs of education is the number one reason why they aren’t attending school. While getting a degree can certainly be a lot easier to do in today’s developing world of technology and online schools, it can still be difficult for milspouses, who face a myriad of unique issues. Family responsibilities, deployments, and child care are common issues that can be barriers for active duty spouses when seeking an education.

So what’s the good news? There are numerous resources available to military spouses to help ease the burden! Wouldn’t it be nice to find jobs that move with us? Or to receive assistance finding a job at your next duty station before you even get there? What if we had an abundance of scholarships available to us? Well, we do have all of this available to us at our fingertips!

Military OneSource has a ton of information and resources available to us, and there is certainly no shortage of education and employment help. Perhaps the most important resource is the Spouse Education and Career Opportunities (SECO) program. SECO can assist spouses with comprehensive education and career support including career exploration, education, training, and licensure, employment readiness, and career connections.

One of the best tools of the SECO program is the Military Spouse Employment Partnership, or MSEP. This is a partnership between the DoD and over 340 organizations that the DoD vets and approves. These organizations are committed to hiring military spouses and paying them equally to their civilian counterparts.  There are more than 4.6 million jobs listed on the portal and there have been more than 80,000 spouses hired to date.  A great source on MSEP is a way for spouses to search specifically for telework jobs, meaning that you work from home. Another valuable component of the SECO program is the ability to call and schedule an appointment with a Career Coach for assistance with finding a job, preparing a resume, or even doing a live video mock interview. You can call Military OneSource at any time to schedule an appointment at 1.800.342.9647. Visiting your installation’s Employment Assistance Program office is also a great place to start looking for employment and you should be able to sign up for the Military Spouse Preference Program through this office as well.

The SECO program also funnels the My Career Advancement Account Scholarship. This scholarship is a workforce development program that provides up $4,000 of financial assistance to eligible military spouses who are pursuing a license, certification, or Associate’s degree in a portable career field or occupation. Many don’t realize it, but graduate certificates are also eligible for MyCAA. Already having a degree of any kind doesn’t exclude you either. As long as you meet the basic eligibility requirements, you can utilize the MyCAA scholarship. There is also the scholarship finder on the SECO website. This resource lists over a thousand scholarships that are specific to military spouses.

Of course, there are also the National Military Family Association scholarships, career funds, and more available on their website, as well.

Although it’s not always an option for all families, many don’t realize that a service member can transfer their Post 9-11 GI Bill benefits to their spouse. You would need to visit the VA website for more information on GI Bill benefit transfers.

As military spouses, we have a unique set of obstacles that can easily keep us from reaching our career and education goals. Let the assortment of various programs, scholarships, and resources assist you with meeting your aspirations. It’s easy to let this military way of life control our future, but let’s take the reigns as much as we possibly can.

Posted by Brittany Poynor, National Military Family Association Volunteer, Fort Carson, CO


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