THE BLOG
05/05/2014 05:52 pm ET Updated Jul 05, 2014

Supporting Our Military Spouses in the Workforce

During the month of May, we are commemorating National Military Appreciation Month in this country by honoring past and present members of the U.S. Armed Forces. The month highlights six unique yet unified national observances, and on May 9th, we will specifically recognize the husbands and wives of our militia for Military Spouse Appreciation Day. While many acknowledge the role these women and men play in keeping our Armed Forces strong, we are largely unaware of the fact that military spouses experience a great deal of bias and other challenges when it comes to work and finding jobs.

According to the Institute for Veterans and Military Families, here are some eye-opening numbers when it comes to military spouse employment and here this is a link the accompanying infographic.
  • Thirty percent of female Armed Forces spouses at and below the age of 24 are unemployed (civilian counterparts are at 11 percent), while 25-44 year-old female spouses face an unemployment rate of 15 percent (civilian counterparts are at six percent).
  • Female spouses of the Armed Forces earn about 38 percent less than their civilian counterparts.
  • Ninety percent of military spouses are underemployed, meaning many have earned above average levels of experience or education than needed for their current position.

But these women are chock-full of life experience, work experience, dedication and maturity. If nothing else, shouldn't they have a leg up on the job search competition? However, as explained in this Houston Chronicle piece, employers perceive these candidates as risky hires since they can be more apt to move or be transferred. Denise Craigen, Air Force wife, sees her cross-country moves as an advantage, saying travel "makes her easy to work with and a quick study." Her experiences are quite common.

Courtney is a military wife currently searching for employment to become the breadwinner once her husband retires. With a BA in Criminal Justice, a MBA in Management and unique life lessons that have taught her how to be self-sufficient in a multitude of sceneries, she is trying to relaunch her career and learn how to break back into the workforce so that she can pour back into the military community and start a career providing financial education to military members and their families.

Melissa has faced the harsh reality that many military spouses battle with while searching for a job. "It's the inevitable question from potential employers: 'How did you end up in Hawaii?' I'm never quite comfortable answering this question, for one I feel it's a screening question to find out if I am a military spouse," she says. "While my instinct is to be direct with a potential employer, there's a fear that being found out as a military spouse could hurt my chances of getting a job."

Both women joined Mom Corps YOU to find support on their journey to re-enter the workforce and assistance in finding a job that will allow them to successfully work and care for their family. As we approach National Military Spouse Appreciation Day, our mission is to bring to light an ongoing effort to provide the essential support military spouses need in order to remain in or re-enter the workforce.

In order to address the unique challenges for military spouses, Verizon, La Quinta Inns & Suites, American Armed Forces Mutual Aid Association (AAFMAA) and a number of military organizations have partnered with us to sponsor military spouses wishing to return to work by providing them with a one-year scholarship to Mom Corps YOU. Hire Heroes USA, MilitaryConnection.com, Military Spouse Advocacy Network, Military Spouse Connections, Project Transition USA, Salute to Spouses, SpouseLink.org and Veteran Recruiting are among these partners sharing in the mission to provide job strategies and opportunities that are hand selected and customized for military spouse members.

As a wife of a USMA West Point Graduate and Veteran U.S. Army Infantry Officer, I can empathize with the challenges military spouses struggle with when it comes to something as seemingly straightforward as finding a job. Because of that, this issue is very near and dear to my heart, so I'm excited that we've been able to partner with like-minded organizations to offer support to the wives of our servicemen who are battling finding employment with unique flexible work options.