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Milspouse Employment: What to Do (pt 5)

April 10, 2009

In the last few days, we’ve talked about the trials associated with finding and maintaining satisfactory employment when you’re a milspouse. Today, let’s get positive and proactive.

First, what can we do to change the status quo? I’ll list some ideas, but I’d like to keep the awesome conversation going. Please, if you have ideas, comment with your own suggestions.

  • What can be done about discrimination against milspouses? According to LAW, the EEOC won’t touch this because we’re not considered a protected group. Department of Labor had never heard of our situation before. They suggest we contact our state Veterans Employment and Training Services if we run into discrimination. In the meantime, what’s to be done? Perhaps the issue of not being a “protected” group is something that the First Lady would take on. Perhaps this should become a bullet point in the Blue Star Families’ – and other military groups’ – activism goals.
  • Would education help milspouses? Not milspouse education – employer education. Would it help if they knew what milspouses brought to the table? Sure, they can look at individual resumes, but will it register what a gold mine they could have at their disposal if they could get over the milspouses-move-every-two-years objection? Could it be that more flex-office and telecommute opportunities will open those doors?
  • How can we let employers know that we are interested in career growth, and how can we make such a desire a real option rather than a pipe dream or post-retirement goal? Is this a matter of education, too? Or are we doomed to backseat priority after our spouse’s military career until the services choose to make us a real priority?
  • More training opportunities for spouses whose careers have been eaten by the military? Would this help? What about training within our fields that will make us tastier candidates for jobs? Those of us with tons of experience and/or degrees/certificates/training to back up our abilities need more than a pat on the head and an offer of employment in a completely new and incompatible industry.
  • When trying to effect change, one of the easiest ways to see that change is to offer incentives. What kinds of incentives can we, or our government, offer to potential employers?

Now let’s talk about what’s already out there to help us. Again, if you know of other resources, add them in the comments.

The first place to go if you’re Navy is the Fleet and Family Service Center’s employment assistance program. I know the local Army base has an equivalent program, and I’m sure the other services offer the same.

The following links are ones I’ve visited in the last several months, regardless of whether I found anything useful there. Your mileage may vary, and as always, proceed with caution unless you know a site is a legit forum. And never, never, never type your social security number into a job site.

Military OneSource

Military Spouse Career Advancement Accounts (CAA)

Military.com’s Military Spouse Career Center

Military Spouse Corporate Career Network

Military Spouses’ Career Network

USA Jobs

National Military Family Association Spouse Employment (check out their Joanne Holbrook scholarship if you’re looking at school!)

Military Spouse Job Search

Thanks to everyone for taking part in this conversation!

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5

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9 Comments leave one →
  1. April 10, 2009 3:34 pm

    I’m bummed that I was off the grid during this whole series, I just went back through and read all the posts, and I’ll have to go through and read all the comments as well.

    I have to admit reading about so much bias against military spouses in the workplace scares me because I’m sitting here at my new duty station and haven’t even begun to look for any jobs yet… I’m lucky that I was working for the same employer for six years after finishing college, and only left them to move with my husband – so maybe I can get away with keeping the milspouse thing under wraps… Plus I don’t have any childcare issues, since I don’t have children yet; just a fur-kid.

    Maybe the next series could be posted over a little bit longer of a time-frame, maybe one part per week, or two parts per week, to let word spread and have more people involved in the conversation? Just a thought; I might just be saying that because I feel like I missed out a little bit. :-p

    • snarkynavywife permalink*
      April 10, 2009 5:53 pm

      Loquita – welcome! We’re still talking about this, and we’ll continue to come back to this topic since I think it’s a pretty important issue milspouses face. I’d like to revisit it again when we have some guy spouses who can chime in with their own experiences.

      Thanks for the suggestion about spacing out the series – I’ll consider doing that next time.

  2. April 10, 2009 4:06 pm

    Your second point about employer education is a great one, and gives me the most hope.

    About a year ago I’d pondered in this post how to make the military life work for *everyone’s* career, and my half-baked conclusion was that civilian employers were probably going to adapt before the military was able to. I still believe that.

    My employer, for example, has been traditionally resistant to telecommuting. But because I’d been there so long and had done solid work, they were willing to try it. I’m hoping that they’ll be more receptive to these arrangements in the future, now that they’ve seen how well it can work.

    So…one employer down, a zillion more to go! Sometimes I think this issue will take care of itself as younger people (who are presumably more comfortable with technology) move into managerial roles. It’d be nice to think of other ways to move this enlightenment along, though.

    • April 10, 2009 4:21 pm

      Great points, Bette. It seems intuitive to me that programs like CAA would incorporate funding for Internet portable milspouse careers, but then again, not much seems to change quickly in the military.

  3. April 10, 2009 10:11 pm

    The EEOC won’t consider us a protected group because this isn’t just a milspouse problem! I was having trouble finding a job way before I ever met my husband, and before he decided to re-enlist. He’s in the Reserves, so we’ve never had to deal w/a PCS, and I don’t see one coming up anytime soon. And what about the Reserves and National Guard? My husband has had trouble getting a job as well! Who wants to hire someone that can’t work certain weekends and Fridays, or someone that could be leaving for a year+ and then the employer has to hold their job for them so when they return they can go back to work? He’s not supposed to be discriminated f/jobs, but he is, they just find different excuses for him not getting the job. His veteran sister has had her troubles as well! It’s just a bad time to find jobs, and it has been for quite a while!

    • snarkynavywife permalink*
      April 10, 2009 10:27 pm

      silver star – thanks for stopping by!

      I’m sure it’s a bad time for veterans, reserves, etc., and I know it’s a bad time in general. But my own experiences with milspouse discrimination have been happening for about fourteen years now. It’s not just the economic situation now – it’s a long-standing tradition.

    • April 11, 2009 1:31 am

      Oh, I remember this very well. My husband was Guard, we went Active because he could NOT find a job. As an HR person told me once, if they had a choice between two equally qualified people, and one was Guard/Reserve, they would go with the other. When I said that was illegal – “prove it” was the response. They are also scared of deployments – the last MN Guard deployment lasted 22 months – a long time for someone to hold a job open!

      But I remember over 25 years ago, when we were PCSing from Germany to the States- one question was, is your husband still in the military? so it’s been going on for decades!

      LAW

  4. usmcwife8999 permalink
    April 10, 2009 11:44 pm

    I agree with snarkynavy wife, 15+ years of moving to various countries and bases, and my last job actually losing a position I had as a temporary employee to a permanant (new) employee because my boss wanted someone who was going to be around awhile to stabalize the position. Now imagine I had been in that office for 2 years, with at least 2 more I would be here. I had a perfect attendance record, exceptional job performance and the girl who replaced me had 0 computer experience. So you’d imagine that this happens in town but no, I worked at the commissary as an accounting tech!

    • snarkynavywife permalink*
      April 11, 2009 2:34 am

      Wow, that’s truly tragic. The commissary. I would have never imagined.

      Thanks for stopping by and sharing your story!

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