As the old year draws to a close, you may be firming up your resolve to get a job or a better job in your current location, or when you move with your service member to another assignment.
If so, there's no time like now to explore new resources for military spouse employment and education: Another 38 companies have committed to recruit, hire, promote and retain military spouses in portable careers.
That brings the membership of the Military Spouse Employment Partnership to 266 corporations, small businesses and other organizations that have joined since June 2011, when DoD expanded a concept launched by the Army. Since then, MSEP employer partners have hired more than 65,000 military spouses.
The 38 newbies include Office Depot, McDonald's Corp., Kraft Foods, U.S. Securities Associates and Wellness Corporate Solutions. A wide variety of industries are also represented — Pricewaterhouse Coopers LLP, The Schwan Food Co., Starbucks, Northrup Grumman Corp., Quicken Loans, CACI International, Jackson Hewitt Tax Service, and dozens of others with a national or international presence. For job postings, visit www.msepjobs.militaryonesource.mil.
The companies are vetted before becoming MSEP members. They must show a desire to hire military spouses and offer jobs that fit with the military life — i.e., portable and virtual. "It's a commitment to not just offer a job, but support a career," said Eddy Mentzer, head of DoD's Spouse Education and Career Opportunities program.
Employers pledge to support pay equity for military spouses, reflecting their level of training, work experience, accomplishments and credentials. So far, DoD hasn't tracked the salaries of spouses hired under MSEP. Mentzer said DoD is starting to explore ways to assess the salary and portability aspects, to ascertain whether headway is being made in decreasing the wage gap between military spouses and their civilian counterparts.
In some cases, an employer will try to help a spouse find a job at a new location when it is unable to offer him or her another job. In one instance, when Verizon couldn't place a spouse in a job at her new location, it found her a job with AT&T. "That talks to the understanding of spouses and their challenges," said Mentzer, who is also a military spouse.
DoD also has begun a pilot program connecting spouses with an organization that assesses their work and life experience to build a portfolio that can be evaluated for college credit. The Council for Adult Experiential Learning, which also became a partner in MSEP, translates spouses' work and life experience. Over 4,000 colleges and universities use CAEL portfolios to assess college credit.
Spouses can be connected to this resource through MilitaryOneSource SECO counselors at the website militaryonesource.mil (click on Spouse Education and Career Opportunities under Military Life Topics), or by phone at 800-342-9647.
DoD officials keep chipping away at the employment problems facing military spouses. You can help by using the available resources — go to the companies that say they want to hire spouses, and take advantage of other programs that can save you time and money in your quest for education and employment.
■ Update: A Nov. 17 column omitted contact information for Vets4Warriors, an organization that connects troops, veterans and families with resources and trained peers who can confidentially help navigate a variety of issues, such as legal, housing, medical, psychological. Go to www.vets4warriors.com or call 855-838-8255, 24 hours a day.