Like their spouse Service Members, military spouses have an equally challenging task of finding employment – both during time in service and after an exit from the military.
The Military Officers Association of America and the Institute for Veterans and Military Families at Syracuse University announced the results of a national study focused on military spouse employment, which found that 90 percent of female spouses reported being underemployed or overqualified for the positions they hold. Military spouses also earn 38 percent less than their civilian counterparts, while also being 30 percent more likely to be unemployed.
To help correct this, Congressional legislation was introduced this year, the Military Spouse Employment Act of 2018, which aims to provide programs, services, and benefits for mil spouses, and to improve upon those that are already in place. While this alone is great news, the real star in the MSEA is that the Pentagon’s transition program for exiting service members now includes spouses.
Though it’s not officially tracked by the Department of Labor, mil spouse unemployment ranges from 12 to 24% depending on location.
A key provision to the MSEA is that the legislation will allow for mil spouses to access career training and scholarships, and will be eligible to apply for transition counseling, since that’s something that’s seriously lacking as Service Members transition out.
MSEA is also in support of mil spouses who have to be recertified in their new duty installations (or their final move), so it will now include financial assistance for professional recertification and credentialing exams.
The bill might also lead to a huge expansion of the MyCAA program (My Career Advancement Accounts) which, when launched, offered scholarships to mil spouses in families of all ranks. The program was shuttered a year after it started, partly due to the large influx of interested mil spouses. The program has since reopened, but is now only eligible to spouses of junior enlisted for associate degree programs. A study in 2015 concluded that the MyCAA program isn’t be utilized to its full potential, largely due to the junior enlisted cap. The new MSEA hopes to revise that, and could include future expansion to allow for more users.
MSEA might also help expand Military OneSource, an invaluable resource to Service Members as the transition process gets underway.
For exiting Service Members and their spouses, this could prove to be a valuable asset in the transition from mil spouse to civilian spouse, especially if the spouse is eligible for the MyCAA program as it is right now.
Though the MSEA hasn’t passed yet, it’s expected to be a part of the 2019 FY National Defense Authorization Act