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Employment opportunities increase for military spouses

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. – Amanda Bainton, Military Officers Association of America Military Family Initiative Development executive director, addresses military spouses at The Club on Peterson Air Force Base, Colo., May 8, 2018. Military spouses at Peterson AFB attended a one-day symposium for to learn about tools, education and resources they need to maintain a career. Spouses face many obstacles when it comes to employment because duty stations change every few years. (U.S. Air Force photo by Robb Lingley)

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- Military Spouses at Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado, attended a one-day symposium at The Club, May 8, 2018, to learn more about tools, education and resources they may need to help maintain a career.

Spouses face many obstacles when it comes to employment because duty stations change every few years.

“Military spouses are facing roughly a 20 percent unemployment rate, which is ridiculous,” said Amanda Bainton, Military Officers Association of America Military Family Initiative Development executive director. “They’re also at a 90 percent underemployment rate, which means they’re overqualified for the job they currently have while making about 40 percent less than their civilian counterparts.”

One of the issues discussed was employment at a national level to ease the burden and eliminate the obstacles spouses face in seeking meaningful employment while married to a military member.

“MOAA has helped make a difference for military spouses on a national level,” said Bainton. “Today we made a call to the White House and learned President Trump had signed an Executive Order to help military spouses with employment on the federal side.”

The Executive Order will broaden the noncompetitive hiring authority for military spouses, allowing each government agency the authority to hire anyone on the spot. All federal departments will be encouraged to use this to the greatest extent possible for military spouses and will be required to report back to the president annually.

“We’re in a day and age where families need more than one income to survive,” said Bainton. “This isn’t the military days of old where people could get by on just one income and have a family. Even if some spouses wanted to stay home, which most don’t, there are some financial challenges that military families face.”

Military spouses in attendance were provided with assistance in networking, covering up gaps in their résumés and translating volunteer experience into applicable skills by MOAA.

“We’re in Washington D.C. and our goal is for spouses to know that if they need any assistance they should go to the Airman and Family Readiness Center on Peterson AFB,” said Bainton. “The AFRC can also introduce them to other resources that they may not have known about that can help compliment their efforts.”

Hiring Our Heroes was also at The Club to provide military spouses with career development and networking opportunities in military communities around the world.

“We’ve nicked down veteran unemployment below the national average,” said Megan Paone, HOH director of community engagement. “The military spouse underemployment rate hovers between 16 and 20 percent, so we really want to capitalize on our small businesses and our bigger employers so we can keep our military spouses employed.”

Paone said the tools that spouses gain and the knowledge that they receive can be used throughout their career.

“The announcement today from the White House is huge,” said Paone. “They’re leveling the playing field for military spouses in terms of opening up priority placements and hiring. Once we have that type of leadership in place, others will start to follow, especially in the military spouse working world.”

For more information on MOAA contact Rhonda Sargeant, AFRC career focus manager at 719-556-6141 or email her at rhondasargeant.1@us.af.mil.