Is It Possible for Milspouses to Ever Feel Like They Belong?

Picture: Zoe Grant

 

It’s no secret the challenges military spouses face on a regular basis. We pass up a promotion or new job opportunity due to an upcoming, possibly super-short-notice PCS. And upon arriving at the next duty station?

Well, you can bet many of us aren’t welcomed with open arms when it comes to finding a job in our local market. Instead, we’re tasked with breaking through countless barriers just to prove our expertise can be put to use in a position we’ll hold for a brief moment in time. Yeah, we have our resume to thank for that as it continues to stretch every two to three years.

All that to say, this military life is far from certain and stable. Not only do we often struggle with our sense of belonging when we’re unable to find meaningful work while putting our service member family’s needs before our own during each move, deployment, training; you name it. But, it’s also easy to feel like we’re unable to carry our weight financially because of the sacrifices we bear.

And that begs the question:

Is it possible for milspouses to ever feel like they belong?

I’m not so sure I can confidently say yes quite yet. In fact, I know I can’t. Because, for me to be able to do that, change needs to continue in one area – military spouse employment. Though, I’m not talking about any kind of employment. I’m talking about employment opportunities that fit the often nomadic, unpredictable lifestyle we live. Employment opportunities that allow us to use our unique set of skills to enhance an organization. And employment opportunities that don’t merely pay us minimum wage, but pay us what we’re worth.

Rason being, in this year’s Military Family Lifestyle Survey (MFLS), it’s evident that now, more than ever, military families value economic stability. In fact, 70% of Millennial military family respondents report that having two incomes is vital to their families’ well-being.

“70% of Millennial military family respondents report that having two incomes is vital to their families’ well-being.” aMFLS 2018

You know – as the saying goes, “Two are better than one.” So, what’s being done to help military families achieve (and maintain) dual-income status, and therefore improve their quality of life?

For starters, because of aMFLS respondents’ consistent reports that spouse under- and unemployment is a problem, both legislators and the following programs implemented by Blue Star Families are working to address military spouse employment:

 

  • SpouseForce

    Designed by military spouses, for military spouses, this platform gives this community the opportunity to input their experience and the conditions under which they need to work. Blue Star Families can then find spouses by ZIP code, skill sets, and work conditions, which we then share with employers who agree to consider work conditions before reaching out. Also, we take the information gathered from the platform to policymakers and employers who can collaborate with BSF to change the landscape of military spouse employment.

 

  • Networks Live!

    An essential component of job-hunting is networking. But, for military spouses always on the move and juggling many different roles, it’s not always possible to attend an in-person event. For that reason, BSF created Networks Live! This program offers both events and webinars for personal and professional development, and to increase military spouses’ exposure in the job marketplace.

 

  • Careers Manager

    Blue Star Families has a team of dedicated Careers Managers to assist spouses with mentorship and placement, career training, and additional employment needs.

Another surge in progress on this front? Senator Kaine’s Military Spouse Employment Act of 2018, which BSF helped inform, includes preferential hiring for military spouses at federal agencies, financial support for job traning and re-credentialing in a new state, reducing barriers to starting businesses on installations, and expanded child care access.

But our efforts can’t (and shouldn’t) stop there. And your voice needs to continue to be heard – loud and clear.

Amplify Your Voice to Impact Change

Respondents of the aMFLS help provide valuable insight regarding the true cost of sustaining our nation’s All-Volunteer Force. And, as a result, Blue Star Families is able to connect the research and data obtained to programs and solutions that improve military families’ quality of life.

To download the full 2018 results and gear up to amplify your voice when 2019 survey fielding begins, become a member of Blue Star Families today!

 

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Michele Bradfield