As the size of the military continues to shrink following the drawdown from Iraq and Afghanistan, the Defense Department has begun to use the spouse employment program as a tool to help service members and their families transition out of the military rather than emphasizing the program’s goal of retaining mid-career personnel.
“We really believe that if the spouse has an opportunity for career advancement and job opportunities, they will be the glue to support the transition of our service members back into the civilian community,” Barbara Thompson, a DOD military family official, told Military.com.
Currently, 26 percent of military spouses are unemployed, according to DOD.
Defense officials highlighted the importance of support for military spouses last month at the launch of a new support program called My Individual Career Plan, which allows spouses to build a virtual career roadmap based on their specific goals and objectives.
“The most effective way to assist spouses during transition is to get them engaged long before transition starts,” said Amanda Crowe, executive director of In Gear Career, a nonprofit that helps military spouses navigate career issues. “An engaged, satisfactorily employed military spouse is one of the best ways to ensure any military family has a smooth transition from military to civilian life,” she said.