More than 130 new employers joined hundreds of other entities, including MOAA, as partners in the Military Spouse Employment Partnership (MSEP) during the group’s annual ENGAGE event outside Washington, D.C., expanding a network committed to enhancing career opportunities for military spouses.
This aptly named event stands for Empowering New Growth and Gaining Employees. It has helped expand awareness of military spouse un/underemployment issues and sparked new avenues for support.
MOAA, which has a national staff made up of nearly 12% military spouses, has been part of MSEP since its 2011 founding. Partners have hired more than 275,000 military spouses across diverse sectors. This year’s ENGAGE event served as a platform for ideas to meet action and was kicked off by the presence of first lady Jill Biden, whose commitment to this cause resonates deeply with the spirit of MSEP. Her presence underscored the importance of the initiatives discussed and the urgency to continue working to bridge gaps in spouse employment.
Participants can play a role in “supporting our servicemembers and their families through every move, every new base, every new job market,” Biden said, as well as “making sure military spouses don’t have to put their careers on hold, or settle for jobs that don’t put their education and experience to good use.”
One of the highlights of the Oct. 18 annual partner meeting was an update from Eddy Mentzer, manager of the Spouse Education and Career Opportunities (SECO) program, on the military spouse career accelerator pilot (MSCAP). This innovative program matches “career ready” military spouses with career growth and skill development opportunities with companies and organizations. By equipping them with the necessary tools and resources, MSCAP aims to facilitate their reentry into the workforce and ensure they thrive professionally.
MSCAP was officially launched in January 2023 with a goal of placing 400 spouses within the first year of the pilot. More than 4,300 spouses have submitted applications for the pilot, but only about 1,000 have completed the requirements to become eligible for the fellowship. To date, 344 fellows have been placed, and excitingly, that total includes 78 applicants who were directly hired in lieu of the fellowship! Another 246 spouses have successfully completed the pilot, of which 203 transitioned to full-time employment either with the host company or another MSEP partner, with an average salary of $70,000.
Through MSEP’s continued work and focus on collaboration across multiple spaces (government, industry, nonprofit, etc.) these annual events provide a conducive environment for employers, policymakers, and military spouses to engage in meaningful conversations. After more than a decade of dwelling on the high rates of military spouse unemployment, ENGAGE served as a hub for sharing best practices and resources across all employment sectors.
MSEP’s success lies not only in its numbers, but in the stories behind each success. These individuals, armed with the support of MSEP and its partners, are not merely employees – they are ambassadors of change. Military spouses have proven time and again that given the right opportunities, they can excel and contribute significantly to the workforce. MOAA applauds the new and enduring MSEP partners for their commitment not only to being “military friendly” but to being “military ready.” As so many of us understand, the only thing predictable about military life is its unpredictable nature.
As MSEP continues empowering military spouses, it’s imperative even more employers, including federal agencies, recognize and welcome the knowledge, skills, and experience spouses bring to the workforce.
Making a Difference in Military Life
Military spouse blogger Mrs. Navy Mama shares her support of MOAA’s efforts to help military families and how you can get involved.