LORTON, Va., Jan. 19, 2022 /PRNewswire/ — The National Military Spouse Network (NMSN), the premiere organization supporting the professional and personal growth of the nation’s military spouses, today released its fourth annual National Military Spouse Network White Paper presented by USAA. The latest report, "The Military Spouse Employment Dilemma: The Multi-Million Dollar Question That No One Is Asking…Until Now," includes priority recommendations for addressing the barriers military spouses face in gaining employment and satisfying careers. This year’s report redefines the problem of military spouse unemployment from merely finding spouses a job to helping them move into a career they can grow into and keep.
This latest report, which identifies five key recommendations for reform, follows closely on NMSN’s close collaboration with the Department of Defense (DOD) and its successful input into the Fiscal Year 2022 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), recently signed by President Biden. For the first time, the annual NDAA included a recommendation for a study on military spouse employment resulting from the input and expertise of NMSN. Section 567 in the NDAA authorizes the study and is the culmination of NMSN’s years-long efforts to effect positive change for career-mined and entrepreneurial military spouses whose unemployment remains far above the U.S. rate, at a stubborn 24%.
"The solutions for military spouse employment will be found in refining the programs that already exist, adjusting or modifying existing efforts to better meet current needs, identifying gaps where programming is still needed, and getting rid of programs that do not work," said Sue Hoppin, founder and president of NMSN. "We cannot be afraid to do this; we must increase employment and provide business opportunities for the nation’s military spouses."
This year’s White Paper digs deep into the issues inhibiting military spouse employment, noting that the organization’s shared success will depend on the ability to bring other federal, state and military service organization partners to work on these challenges. The recommendations include:
- Ensuring that resources and programming serve the military spouse community and that the DOD establishes a standard set of metrics to evaluate programs and their impact across organizations – federal, state and local.
- Congress must study the inability of military spouses to benefit from financial vesting programs. This assessment should include matching programs of private employers vs. occupational professions as well as vesting timeline requirements and lost opportunities to accumulate retirement savings at the same rate of civilian peers unaffiliated with the military.
- Expanding utilization of the Department of State’s Domestic Employees Teleworking Overseas (DETO) Program, which would help ensure that military spouses who secure employment with a federal department or agency are able to maintain their employment during assignments overseas.
- Creating a Military Spouse Small Business Administration (SBA) Small-Business Concern classification to cover self-employed spouses. Though not codified into law, the SBA has taken steps to expand counseling, training and access to capital opportunities for military spouse entrepreneurs through their Office of Veterans Business. Designating military spouse-owned businesses as small business concerns could help provide spouses with the targeted support they need to move their operations with them as they move domestically or abroad.
- Congress should consider authorizing the development of a military spouse experience map that ensures employment benefits/resources are accessible to military spouses through each military lifecycle.
"Military spouse employment and underemployment have been long-standing roadblocks to the financial security of many military families," said Mike Kelly, assistant vice president of Military Affairs, USAA. "We are excited to see the great work of our friends at NMSN translate into tangible improvement and collective impact in the military spouse employment environment."
The recommendations in the National Military Spouse Network White Paper represent a snapshot of today’s military spouse environment and will be the basis for 2022 programming, including invitation-only roundtables and other events and initiatives designed to enhance military spouse employment and career opportunities for the nation’s one million+ military spouses.
Founded in 2010, the National Military Spouse Network delivers ongoing personal and professional development for military spouses by providing quality content, mentoring, networking opportunities and resources. For more information, visit www.nationalmilitaryspousenetwork.org.
SOURCE The National Military Spouse Network