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To Help Military Spouses Get Jobs, Do More Than Extend Service Tours
May has been a month to highlight the sacrifice, struggles and service of military spouses. On May 9, President Trump signed an executive order to make it easier for military spouses to secure employment. Friday, May 11 was officially observed as Military Spouse Appreciation Day. And according to recent reports, U.S. Army officials told lawmakers this week that more action will be taken that could help spouses gain employment. Those plans could include extending military assignments that would allow families to stay in the same locations longer.
Rosalinda Maury is Director of Applied Research and Analytics at Syracuse University’s Institute for Veterans and Military Families. She says in addition to addressing tour duration length, other issues need to be faced head-on to improve the employment opportunities available to military spouses.
“The discussion about longer tours is not a new one. Although this may help with some aspects of the employment challenges that military spouses face, there are other issues that must be overcome as well such as employers’ perception of military spouses—a predisposition that military spouses will leave in a short time thus becoming unwilling to hire or place in jobs that is easily replaceable.”
Research at the Institute for Veterans and Military Families shows the following:
- Active duty military personnel move on average once every two to three year, 2.4 times as often as civil families.
- Military spouses move across state lines 10 times more frequently than their civilian counterparts and sometimes overseas.
- Frequent relocations can create gaps in employment, inability to start of complete their education, unemployment, or underemployment (working in a position inconsistent with work experience or education).
- Military spouses have higher unemployment rates, estimated as much as 3 times higher than their civilian peers; military spouses — 33% report they are underemployed based on their educational background.
- Military spouses are often de facto single parents due to spouse deployments, geographic separations, or unpredictable service member work schedules sometimes limiting employment choices.
Additional research resources related to military service, and spouse employment:
- IVMF’s Employing Military Spouses Series
- Research Article: The Force Behind the Force – Training, Leveraging and Communicating About Military Spouses as Employees
- Report: The Force Behind the Force – Case Profiles of Successful Military Spouses Balancing Employment, Service and Family
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