What is the Department of Defense Doing to Help Military Spouses Find Jobs?

"A Senior Engineer" with General Dynamics at Pearl Harbor, HI and "Part Time Bartender" for Hilton Worldwide Chicago Downtown – what do they have to do with spouse employment?

Military spouse at job fair - See below for photo credit
The Military Spouse Employment Program (MSEP) kicked off almost a year ago and has more than 440,000 jobs available for a military spouse to search through for their specific needs. The DoD Blogger Roundtable spoke with Robert L. Gordon III, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense (Military Community and Family Policy) as he highlighted the many successes of MSEP and how it has improved the lives of the military community.

With a 26% unemployment rate last year and an approximate 25% wage gap for the military spouses, the military and national leadership had to respond to this critical need.  While the 440,000 jobs listed are not military spouse exclusive, MSEP aims to insure that:  they are portable for frequently relocated military personnel and require a “level playing field” for the military community applicants. Each business agrees through a Memorandum of Agreement to share spouse hiring information, to provide support from their Human Resources department and build a mentorship program for military spouses.

The program has been driven by military spouse concerns, Gordon – “we listened to spouses” said the jobs range from part time to full time and include various skill sets. When queried about skill levels required for the jobs he did not know the percentage of jobs listed that required a degree but he did respond that MSEP is focusing on education, health care and government jobs, (skilled job skills that many spouses have earned), as strategic issues for the business partners.

Secretary Gordon at Ft Carson - See Below for Photo Credit
In less than one year, MSEP has resulted in the hiring of more than 20,000 military spouses! Gordon said that was more than $400,000,000 in income for military families that the program connected business partners provided. Wow! More details on the jobs through the memorandum of agreements will provided at the one year point in June. This will include the major issues of pay gap, portability, career tracks, mentorship, etc.  The program success can also be measured with the induction of 35 new partner members on Thursday, May 17th according to Gordon,.  With their induction 131 businesses will have become military friendly employers! 

What is the business motivation to participate in the program?

“Our military spouses are a great hire” with superior skill sets, on time workers, know how to operate in uncertain conditions, … but Gordon added that they want to improve the program and need our help. Feedback is critical to the program to ensure it is meeting the spouses’ needs.

Here is where to get started with your job search at MSEP JOBS: https://msepjobs.militaryonesource.mil/  

A quick review of the site found the Newest Jobs section including the Senior Engineer with General Dynamics at Pearl Harbor, HI and Part Time Bartender for Hilton Worldwide Chicago Downtown on Tuesday.  Wednesday morning it included Installation Manager for Dish Network in Colorado and a COBOL/PL-SQL Applications Engineer Humana Military Healthcare Services, Louisville, Kentucky  The site has a listing of job fair events in the near future available as well. Today, the job fair locations included Honolulu, Las Vegas and Virginia Beach. If you call the 800 342 9647 toll free line on the site, you will be connected to a Military One Source counselor who can help you get started and also connect you with other resources such as resume writing, interview skills and other job connected skills.

Military spouses are true warriors in the civilian job market and this program is just the right thing to do! One of the most difficult things for a military member to see is a qualified spouse denied a job because they are a military spouse! MSEP will open many doors that were closed and provide some visibility to the challenges that spouses face and have faced in the employment world.

MilitaryAvenue has some great resource information in our Reading Room with Employment Articles such as:

If you would like a transcript or listen to an audio of this conversation with Secretary Gordon please go to DoDLive! A big thank you sir, for taking the time to talk and explain this program to our readers.

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Photo Credit: Emily Brainard
Military spouse Katelyn Jaber fills out a job application at Fort Rucker's Job Fair last year at The Landing.

Photo Credit: Andrea Sutherland (Fort Carson)
FORT CARSON, Colo. -- Robert L. Gordon III, deputy assistant secretary of Defense, signs the Statement of Support during the March 21 Military Spouse Employment Program signing ceremony at the Elkhorn Conference Center. Gordon was joined by area military and community leaders including Maj. Gen. Joseph Anderson, commanding general, 4th Infantry Division and Fort Carson, second from right.


  1. I'm surprised there was no mention of the need for child care for those military families with children under 5 (and according to stats, that's a lot of them!). Child care is a necessity for employment for most. I hope the job fairs also include sources of info for military parents on things like identifying quality care, getting assistance with tuition, finding out about on-base and off-base options, etc. Choosing child care is an enormous decision and a big part of finding and keeping a job for military spouses with little ones.

  2. Thank you for your comment Kathy! Actually Secretary Gordon did mention child care and I failed to mention it in the blog due to all the other great data I had to share. He identified child care as a critical need. If you would like to hear his comments please go DoDLive which I linked to in the blog.

    One resource I am familiar with, Sittercity, has a great Department of Defense program to help identify child care resources. You can find them at https://www.sittercity.com/register_corp_1.html?corp=dod&client=67&utm_source=google&utm_medium=cpc&utm_campaign=dod

  3. Great to hear that, Col K! yes, I'm familiar with SitterCity as well as NACCRRA's partnership with DoD to provide tuition payment help. The program I work with (Military Families Learning Network) is part of DoD's partnership with USDA's Cooperative Extension Service to provide education, info and support for child care professionals serving military families. So I know there are many DoD efforts to address child care needs of military families. My only concern is making sure that all of these great child care supports are represented at job fairs and that the info is getting out to the military spouses looking for work. There's much to do to support military families and the more we are aware and supportive of each other, the more that help can get to families. Thanks for your reply! (and I'll listen to the whole recording - thanks for nudge!)

    1. I also should mention - I recently wrote a blog post about military families' need for flexible child care options and some of the programs (like SitterCity) that are available to families. Please feel free to share it with others. Thanks! http://blogs.extension.org/militaryfamilies/2012/03/08/meeting-military-families%E2%80%99-need-for-flexible-child-care/

  4. I'll interject too, Kathy. As the spouse of a National Guard soldier I often remember thinking how VERY FORTUNATE I was that I had a passion (aka job) that I did from home. When hubs was deployed and the boys were sick it would have been me that would have to call in to take a 'sick day' from work. It would have been me that would have to take a half day off of work to spend a few hours in the class room. It would have been me that would have to take vacation days for deployment programs when hubs left, while he was gone and when he came home. National Guard families, such as myself, have a different battle since there isn't a military installation with In Home Child Care or a Child Development Center to help support them. You are right there are LOTS of programs that need to be shared with our Active Duty /and/ National Guard / Reserve families.

    I know there are other battles though, teachers needing re-certification after any PCS, nurses without the right state required credentials, even lawyers who haven't practiced law long enough to have state to state reciprocation. I am so glad to see those areas addressed for our Active Duty families! My mom was one of those teachers who found it very difficult to get a full time position all because she was in love with an airman. Glad to see these issues being tackled, and we need to keep it up with advocates such as yourself (BTW if you would be interested in guest-blogging send me an email. I'd love to help get the word out about what child-care resources there are. (leanne@militaryavenue.com). My sincerest thanks for getting the world out to our families!

    1. Hi Leanne - thanks for your reply (fyi - I'm a faithful follower of your blog!)! I'm glad you brought up the unique challenges for Guard and Reserve families, and others who don't live on base (the majority of milfams, from the stats I've seen). It so happens that my greatest hope is to connect with community-based child care centers and family child care homes. I want to encourage them to be aware of the military families in their communities and provide info for them on the unique nature of military family life and how it impacts young kids.

      "A different battle" - what a great way to put it! One of the reasons I enjoy reading your blog is that it helps me understand that battle a little better. And I want to pass that on, to make sure that every child care teacher/caregiver with a military child in their care knows how to support him/her and help the family face that battle. (see what happens when you get me started on this? :-)

      Thanks for your thoughts, Leanne, and for all YOU do to encourage and support military families! (and yes, I'd love to guest blog - I'll be in touch! thank you!)


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