Finding meaningful work as a military spouse can be complicated, but there are resources that can help.
Active military are not the only people making sacrifices to serve our country. When it comes to steady employment, military spouses are left grappling for jobs and battling to sustain a career. Spouses frequently give up solid employment to relocate to another state with their partners. This was the case for a military spouse, MaiLani Cruz, who was working in Southern California when her husband was transferred to Fort Bliss in El Paso, Texas. With yet another move came uncertainty around finding a job.
Over 35 percent of military spouses work in a field that requires a state-regulated occupational license, which means occupational licensing regimes impose barriers for military spouses to join the labor market. Some states, like Illinois, are enacting laws that stipulate applications for licenses must be reviewed and granted within 60 days. Other states should follow suit.
When Cruz moved across state lines, she found support through workforce nonprofit Workforce Opportunity Services, a job training program that trains and places veterans and military spouses in jobs at top corporations. After 16-weeks of accelerated training with the organization, she took and passed two certifications vital to any role in project management. She now works full-time at Prudential Financial, and should her husband be relocated in the future, she has the skills and necessary certifications to land and sustain a career in project management.
According to Cruz, “My husband serves to take care of us and I will move and change careers as often as I have to in order to keep us together.”
Another important element to supporting working military spouses takes into account their mental health. The stresses of managing a family solo, uncertainty of their spouses’ safety during deployment, and frequent need to relocate on short notice can take a toll on one’s well-being. With so much to juggle it’s not surprising that one study found 78 percent of spouses studied reported depression and 44 percent reporting unaddressed mental health needs.
Employers can help by sponsoring confidential support groups, which can be led by qualified mental health professionals or self-run by employees. Support groups provide an opportunity for people to share personal experiences and coping strategies, as well as serve as a reminder that they are not alone.