By C. Todd Lopez
WASHINGTON (Oct. 11, 2011) -- Two dozen new companies have put their hat in the ring to make it easier for spouses of service members to find and keep meaningful, career-oriented, portable employment.
During the opening hours of the 2011 Association of the United States Army Annual Meeting and Exposition in Washington, D.C., Oct. 10, the 24 companies signed on to be part of the Military Spouse Employment Partnership. MSEP is a group of companies, with the addition of the new partners, which is now 96 strong.
"They support military spouses in their employment and career efforts by offering jobs that are portable," said Robert L. Gordon III, deputy assistant secretary of Defense for military community and family policy. "That means the companies provide support and commitment that when a military spouse has to move, their employment opportunities will continue with that company."
While most of the partners are U.S.-based, Gordon said some have "global reach."
"We do look for companies also that have a global footprint, since our military community members live overseas," Gordon said.
On the MSEP website, there are now 54,000 jobs available, but Gordon said there are even more available through the human resources departments of the partner companies.
"We are leveling the playing field for our spouses, since our spouses have a 26-percent unemployment rate and a 25-percent wage gap," Gordon said. "As we all know, with deployment and moves overseas, often times our spouses have difficulty finding and keeping jobs and careers. This levels the playing field by matching companies to the skill sets of our spouses."
The MSEP program only began serving spouses of all military service members in June. Since then, it has provided employment to some 5,600 military spouses. Before it was MSEP, however, the program belonged to the Army, and was called the Army Spouse Employment Partnership.
That program had been in place since 2003. Combined, the two programs have placed more than 90,000 spouses, said Tony Stamilio, deputy assistant secretary of the Army for civilian personnel and quality of life.
Stamilio believes the DOD flavor of the program can continue what the Army started.
"What this program offers is the ability to better match and inform," Stamilio said. "We have spouses looking for work and companies looking for great talent. What MSEP does is provides that conduit of information and that matching capability for the potential that already exists."
Gordon said the MSEP program does more than provide spouses with gainful employment. It also helps businesses find skilled employees, it helps families, and it even helps the military. "We feel it does positively affect readiness and retention," he said.
The MSEP program website can be found at: www.msepjobs.com
Among the companies that signed on to be partners with the program are:
-- Care One
-- Dial America
-- Dominion Power
-- General Dynamics OTS
-- Hitachi Consulting
-- Integrated Communications Systems
-- Johnson Controls
-- Navy Exchange
-- N.E.W. Customer Services
-- Red Cross
-- Sterling Medical
-- United Health Group
-- Wittenberg Weiner