Military Spouse Turns Career Challenges into Opportunities

Published: May 25, 2021

Military Spouse Turns Career Challenges into Opportunities

Did you know that 20% of military spouses are unemployed and, according to the 2020 Military Family Lifestyle Survey, 67% of employed military spouses are underemployed? That’s a major problem because spouse under/unemployment is not only creating financial stress for families, but also mental and emotional stress. 

Adam, an Air Force spouse and former military child, is very aware of the importance of employment as a military spouse. “I’ve personally moved about 30 times in my life,” Adam shared. “Much in part to [my] dad’s career with the Air Force. My mother was a stay at home mom and does not regret it, but there are times when I think she may have felt even more accomplished if she had her own ‘project’ or career to continue through the moves at her pace. I admire her so much, but for me, a career is essential to my personal survival mentally and financially.” 

That’s why, when Adam became a military spouse himself, he was committed to maintaining his career and sense of independence. But it hasn’t always been easy. “The transient nature of my time in any place is the number one challenge for employers to digest,” Adam explained. “I think we often forget that, while military members complete the Transition Assistance Program or equivalent upon completion of their service to learn more about the civilian employment world,  few employers take a course like that. I’ve seen how employers struggle with understanding not only the value military spouses bring to the table, but also how the transition to facilitate those valuable employees is not as difficult as it might seem!” 

Why should all of this matter to you? Because we know that finding and maintaining meaningful work directly impacts financial and emotional well-being. Without employment, many military families experience increased stress at home. And when there’s stress at home, mission readiness suffers. In fact, one in five active-duty service member respondents reported “concerns about spouse employment” as a reason they would leave military service. If ambitious service members are leaving military service due to lack of opportunities for spouse employment, our ability to remain mission ready will be severely compromised. 

But employment isn’t the only time Adam has experienced challenges as a military spouse. As a male military spouse, in particular, he has also struggled to feel included and accepted. “There are more of us [male spouses] than one might think when you consider that 8%-9% of spouses are male,” Adam said. “Despite that, I think a constant challenge is the primarily female dominated expectations of military spouse activities and themes. Social media posts that consistently begin with ‘hey ladies’ or spouse gifts that have one female gift option like perfumes or charm bracelets. It feels like a slight to my efforts to include myself and support other spouses.”

Nevertheless, going through those challenges, both with employment and being a male military spouse, has made Adam more resilient and determined than ever. And he recognizes that strength in his fellow military spouses. “No other group of people has the innate resiliency to multitask through a variety of challenging uncertainties,” Adam shared. “Furthermore, spouses take on a variety of training just to hone those skills. We are a talented and highly qualified group that I’m proud to be a part of.” 

His determination and knowledge of the military community led him to a connection with InstantHandz, a company created with military spouses in mind. Adam quickly became the company’s Chief Strategy Officer, and he now has a hand in bettering the employment circumstances for other military families. “We have made military spouse employment one of our three key reasons for existing at InstantHandz,” Adam explained. “We actively seek to hire and have hired nearly all our employees from military networks. In addition, the application is specifically designed to be transferable and flexible, so that if a family moves the job goes with them. The flexibility in our app is key and [we] expect that it will have a global impact on milspouse employment!” 

Now, Adam is working with Blue Star Families’ Careers program to ensure talented military spouses are aware of the opportunities available with InstantHandz. Blue Star Families, through the Spouseforce program, has injected $55 million into local economies since its inception and provided $15 million in training programs. Plus, in the first six months of 2020 alone, Spouseforce hires added $2 million into local economies. 

Why are those numbers so important? Because now, more than ever, military spouses are struggling to find and maintain employment. In fact, the 2020 Military Family Lifestyle Survey found that 42% of military spouses who had been working prior to the pandemic reported they had stopped working at some point during it, and 68% of those who had stopped working remain unemployed. 

Blue Star Families is committed to ensuring military families have the support they need to get back on their feet and get back to work in a way that works for them. Working with InstantHandz is an important partnership to support those efforts. 

Learn more about Blue Star Career opportunities and resources available to help get you hired!

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