By Dr. Jarrod Sadulski
Faculty Member, Criminal Justice
Our military families make many selfless sacrifices associated with service to our nation. For example, military families experience many challenges, including unexpected deployments, assignments in remote locations and the need to uproot family members every few years due to permanent change of station (PCS) orders.
Military spouses and military children experience many of the same hardships as active-duty servicemembers. For instance, military families must cope with finances, inconsistent and long work schedules, separation from each other, and the stress of the servicemember being in a dangerous location.
Why Finding Employment Is a Challenge and a Necessity for Military Spouses
A recent study shed light on a top lifestyle concern for military families, which was spousal unemployment. Frequent changes in duty assignments make it challenging for military spouses to maintain continuous employment. Often, military spouses must seek employment in new locations when their servicemember is transferred to the new duty location.
For many military spouses, finding a job to support the family is a financial necessity. Attempting to live on the servicemember’s salary alone is often not a realistic choice.
For instance, an enlisted E-4 servicemember with three years’ experience and a family of four receives an average military compensation of $43,746 per year. According to the Department of Health and Human Services, that is $15,996 more than the federal poverty line for a family of four ($27,750 in the mainland U.S.). Around 70% of military families from the millennial generation report that two incomes are essential to the well-being of their family.
Resources for Military Spouses Preparing to Seek Employment
Ideally, military spouses should take the time to become competitive in the workforce. They can advance their knowledge of a particular industry or gain work experience in a specific trade or industry field.
In addition, there is a workforce development program specifically available to military spouses. The My Career Advancement Account (MyCAA) scholarship provides up to $4,000 in financial support for qualifying military spouses. Military spouses can use MyCAA funds to pursue licenses, certifications, tests or associate degrees.
A new duty station may have its own resources. For instance, some bases have childcare services or military spouse support groups. In addition, some military spouses on a base may be able to assist with childcare.
The Department of Defense also offers job assistance for military spouses. For example, the DoD’s Military Spouse Employment Partnership connects military spouses with hundreds of potential employers who have made an agreement to recruit and hire military spouses.
This program also connects military spouses with corporate and non-profit agencies and helps them to become competitive in the job market. The Military Spouse Employment Partnership works with hundreds of employer partners and offers a useful job search portal with thousands of jobs in different industries.
Remote Work Is Also an Option for Military Spouses
One strategy that military spouses may want to consider is to seek out remote work. Working remotely for an accommodating employer reduces the challenges of childcare and enables a military spouse to continue working even after a PCS.
Remote work has become more popular during the COVID-19 pandemic, since a lot of employers and employees discovered the benefits of remote work. Remote work often provides employees the flexibility to work in a location different from the company’s offices, which also benefits employers by expanding their hiring pool. It also eliminates time-consuming work commutes, contributing to a stronger work-life balance for employees.
For military spouses and their families, life in the military has constant challenges. But using online and on-base resources can prove useful in mitigating those challenges.