Military Spouses And Careers

October 2, 2008

It’s a well know fact that when a man or woman joins the military and they have a family, it’s often very difficult for the spouse and children, due to the frequent moves that military life requires. For the children, they face having to move from school to school, often leaving friends behind and facing the difficulty of making new friends. For military spouses, it’s difficult to begin a career of their own, also due to the frequent moves. Employers often won’t hire a military spouse, because they know that they will be eventually moving on, leaving the employer to replace them.

Acknowledging this fact, President Bush signed an executive order on September 25th making it easier for military spouses to obtain jobs in the federal government. The order Bush allows hiring managers for all federal agencies to hire qualified military spouses without going through the competitive process. According to Patricia Bradshaw, deputy undersecretary of defense for civilian personnel policy, the new hiring authorities won’t be put into place until after the first of the year.

“One of the key things to recruiting and retention of service members is the employment of spouses,” Bradshaw said, noting that only about 10 percent of military spouses stay in the same location for as long as five years. Frequent relocations make it difficult for spouses to build a career.1

The spouses would have to meet the qualifications for the job that they’re applying for. The new order would allow for hiring managers to hire a qualified military spouse, without advertising the jobs, dependent on other hiring requirements.

“Here’s a quick hiring authority for them to get to another bucket of talent that may have perhaps gone unnoticed in the past,” Bradshaw said.2

There are still details to be worked on for the initiative, but the following is the gist of the new initiative.

• Spouses of active-duty members on PCS orders, if the spouse is relocating to the member’s new permanent duty station. This will include members of the National Guard and Reserve on active duty. Details have not yet been worked out on the length of time that the new hiring authority will be in effect before and after a PCS move.
• Spouses of 100-percent disabled retired or separated military members.
• Unremarried widows or widowers of a military member who is killed while on active duty.3

The new initiative does not require that hiring managers hire military spouses, however it does allow them to do so, without having to first advertise the job openings. The order does not affect the Defense Department’s existing spouse preference program, designed to help spouses who are already in civil service in obtaining jobs within that department.

That program does not help new spouses get into the federal civil service system; the new policy is designed to do that, Bradshaw said, adding that the policy will give Defense Department managers more flexibility in hiring. Bradshaw also stressed that the new initiative will not affect the veteran’s preference programs, which allow for a qualified veteran to be given preference for federal jobs.4

I think it’s fantastic that the federal government is finally recognizing the difficulties faced by military spouses when it comes to careers and that they’re taking steps to make it easier for them to do so. I think this will have some impact on retention of Soldiers who might otherwise get out of the military, so that their spouses can have a career. I’m sure this news will be well received by military spouses in all branches of the military and at all military bases.

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2 Responses to “Military Spouses And Careers”

  1. Military Spouses And Careers on October 2nd, 2008 1:48 am

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  2. David M on October 2nd, 2008 11:30 am

    The Thunder Run has linked to this post in the - Web Reconnaissance for 10/02/2008 A short recon of what’s out there that might draw your attention, updated throughout the day…so check back often.

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