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Employment Options, Tools Abound for Military Spouses

By C. Todd Lopez

WASHINGTON (Oct. 15, 2019) -- Military spouses looking for employment have a lot of options and a lot of tools available to them.

During a briefing today at the Association of the U.S. Army 2019 Annual Meeting and Exposition in Washington, Lee Kelley, the Defense Department's director of military community support programs in the Military Community and Family Policy Office, said military spouses can access career coaches through the Military OneSource website from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. on weekdays and all day on Saturdays.

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Military OneSource career coaches work with military spouses all day, she noted. "It is hard to stump them with a career obstacle," she added.

Kelley also pointed out that Military OneSource provides the MyCAA Scholarship, a $4,000, noncompetitive scholarship for spouses married to service members in pay grades E-1 through E-5, O-1 and O-2, and W-1 and W-2. "It can close the gap in expertise needed to enter portable job opportunities," she said. "It can be used for associate degrees, licenses and certifications."

Kelley said a RAND Corp. survey about MyCAA found the scholarship results in increases in spouse wages, likelihood of employment and service member retention.

The Military Spouse Employment Partnership, or MSEP program, involves more than 400 companies who have committed to providing job opportunities to military spouses, Kelley said. An account within the program allows prospective employers to search the resumes of military spouses. Some 139,000 spouses have found employment that way, she said.

Suzanne King, with the Army Installation Management Command's family child care program, said becoming a child care provider can be a double opportunity for some spouses who are looking for a job.

Certification as a family child care provider, King said, allows military spouses to augment their family's income, while providing care for their own children without having to pay for it.

"You can earn an income, run your own business, stay at home with your child, have the same hours as your [spouse] for the most part, receive great training which could lead to even greater opportunities and have a career that can [move] with you," King said.

King said the Army provides support to military spouses who want to become a family child care provider.

"As soon as a provider comes on board, they are placed on an 18-month training program that includes CPR, first aid, identifying, preventing and reporting child abuse, various areas of child development, special needs, creating appropriate environments and more," she said.

The Army even provides training to help military spouses learn to manage a child care business.

Once certified, Children and Youth Services officials will also work to ensure that family child care professionals are able to move between installations when a military service member is transferred, and continue to work at the new duty location, King said.

Twenty-six Army facilities have the family child care program, King said. For locations that don't have it, the required training program allows those military spouses to find work in installation child development programs and youth centers, she said.

"FCC providers will need to apply for positions at the [child development centers], but may come in at a much higher caregiving level and rate of pay," she said. "Family child care and [Children and Youth Services] are the perfect career choice, one in which passion may become a profession."

Sgt. Maj. Kristopher Rick, senior Army fellow with Veterans' Employment and Training Services in the Labor Department, said the department also has a great program to help military spouses make the move from one state to another and keep their employability through the transfer of credentials.

The department's website helps military spouses with license portability so they can move from camp, post and station to camp, post and station, he said. The website puts all of the state legislation about portability of licensing and credentials in one place, he noted. An interactive U.S. map allows users to hover over a state and see a brief description of how the state handles license portability.

Rick said he believes the availability of the site prompted many states to change their laws to be more accommodating to military spouses. He said it created competition among governors to see "who could move that ball the furthest."

The site also provides robust information on how states deal with the transfer of licenses for attorneys, emergency medical services personnel, nurses, physical therapists and physicians, he added, and there's also a search engine that allows users to find the licensing board in each state for a variety of other professions.

"Now a military spouse is armed with the current state legislation and how that applies to the occupational licensure board within that state," Rick said. "Then, they can build their roadmap ... on how to engage that state when they are preparing to move to that location."

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