NOVEMBER 7, 2022 – The well-being and readiness of service members is a top priority for the Defense Department, and in September, Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III announced an action plan offering them and their families additional support.
One of these includes providing assistance in finding employment for military spouses.
According to the Secretary of Defense’s memo, the DOD is committed to enhancing military spouse employment and facilitating the portability of occupational licenses for military spouses as they make permanent change of station from state to state.
The department has assisted professions in drafting “interstate compacts” for those licensed occupations in which the majority of military spouses work. Compacts generally allow military spouses to PCS from state to state without having to relicense in their chosen professions or submit paperwork, pay fees for applications or test.
The compacts, which include teaching, social work, dentistry/dental hygiene, massage therapy, and cosmetology or barbering, are nearing completion for states to consider in 2023. Groups representing the professions are also drafting compacts for dietetic nutrition and school psychology to be ready for the 2024 state legislative sessions.
Nine licensure compacts currently exist, and the DOD is working with groups representing the impacted professions to obtain approval by additional states for the following: nurses, physicians, physical therapists, occupational therapists, audiologists/speech-language pathologists, emergency medical technicians, psychologists and licensed professional counselors.
There are also plans to further use direct-hire authorities where applicable and expand telework and remote work opportunities for spouses.
Noncompetitive hiring and direct-hire authorities allow DOD components to target their recruiting efforts toward eligible military spouses for DOD employment opportunities. These hiring routes will also enable DOD employers to quickly hire qualified military spouses.
Telework and remote work programs provide opportunities for military spouses to retain current employment within the DOD and continue to advance their careers in a manner consistent with the future of work and mobile work forces.
The Secretary’s “Taking Care of Our People” initiatives encourage the expansion and use of telework and remote work policies to assist military spouses to retain productive and continuous employment as they relocate throughout their spouse’s military career. This also alleviates financial stress to military families by potentially avoiding a disruption in income.
The DOD, partnering with the Department of State, has already begun promoting a broader use of telework/remote work for military spouses overseas. USAJOBS.com and DODCiviliancareers.com offer spouses a filtered view of job opportunities targeting military spouses.
Another option for military spouses is a paid fellowship. Participation in a fellowship program provides career ready military spouses with job relevant skill building, enhances their professional network, and introduces them to employers with future employment opportunities.
Beginning in December this year, the DOD Military Spouse Corporate Fellows Program will begin taking applications from candidates, for placement in early 2023, in paid fellowships with employers from across industry who are looking for full-time staff. Fellowships will last from 6-12 weeks, depending on the needs of the employer.
While follow-on employment is not a guarantee, the goal of the pilot program is to place military spouses with employers that are seeking to fill full-time employment openings.
The DOD is also looking to increase employer partners in Military Spouse Employment Partnership, or MSEP.
The MSEP consists of more than 540 employer partners that have committed to recruiting, hiring, promoting and retaining military spouses. The goal is to increase the number of MSEP partners by 10% to nearly 600 employers by the end of 2022 providing even more employment opportunities for military spouses in multiple industry sectors. Currently, MSEP employer partners have hired more than 220,000 military spouses across all industry sectors.
Story by Deidre R Moon
Arnold Engineering Development Complex Public Affairs