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While veteran unemployment is lower than the national average, the rate of unemployment for military spouses is four times higher than their civilian counterparts, according to one study.
During the Hiring Our Heroes military spouse employment summit June 28 in Washington, D.C., Bonnie Amos, a military community leader, said: “Why should employers hire military spouses? We're just damn good.” This bold quote resonated with the audience of private-sector employers, military spouses, and key influencers in military spouse employment policy.
As a Hiring Our Heroes ambassador and spouse of the 35th commandant of the Marine Corps, Amos advised military spouses on “best bet” careers for the military lifestyle. Other summit panels focused on topics such as empowering spouses in their communities, workforce strategies, state licensing challenges, entrepreneurship, and employer best practices.
The summit opened with a fireside chat between Eric Eversole, president of Hiring Our Heroes, and Kellyanne Conway, counselor to President Donald Trump.
Conway pointed out that “we have more jobs than jobseekers” and “we have got to get this right” when it comes to military spouse employment.
Conway highlighted how a recent executive order on military spouse employment shines a light on licensure barriers and creates accountability for hiring military spouses through performance metrics. She ended her discussion with a call to action for private-sector employers to “take a risk” in hiring military spouses because the results will be worth it.
Florida Gov. Rick Scott also attended the summit and spoke to changes implemented by the state to address military spouse employment, like providing a waiver for licensing fees and joining the state licensure compact.
Dr. Jill Biden, former second lady under the Obama administration and a military parent, spoke to the untapped potential within the military spouse community: “When we give spouses the resources they need, we tap into a powerful talent pool. … I mean come on! They do it all! Who better to fill these gaps?” Her advice to private-sector employers in the audience focused on mentoring spouses, training their HR teams on hiring military spouses, raising awareness of the issue, and calling on their peers in the private sector to step up.
Exciting Announcements From the Summit
Hiring Our Heroes, Starbucks, and 15 supporting companies announced their goal of hiring 100,000 military spouses in three years.
Matt Miller, deputy assistant secretary for policy of the Department of Labor's Veterans' Employment and Training Service, unveiled a new interactive map with all state licensure requirements broken down by occupational area.
Danny Chung, Microsoft's chief of staff of military affairs, announced that the company will be launching a Military Spouse Technology Academy this fall, an expansion of its Microsoft Software & Systems Academy program.
MOAA has remained vigilant in attacking barriers to military spouse employment by being the military spouse voice on Capitol Hill and working alongside the government and private-sector companies. MOAA's award-winning spouse programs focus on professional development to equip military spouses with the right tools for success. Make sure to check out the dates for our signature "Keeping a Career on the Move®" Military Spouse Symposium. We might be coming to a city near you.