Tag Archive for Jobs

Can a Military Spouse Pursue a Professional Career? (Ask Molly)

Dear Molly,

My boyfriend is currently in an ROTC battalion. He won’t be commissioned until 2013. He has, in the past couple months, begun to talk about getting married. He’s 24 and I’m 20. We currently have a long distance relationship because we go to school about 3 hours apart. With all of my extracurriculers and his work/ROTC we’ve been seeing each other once, maybe twice, a month since we started dating last year. This has forced us to talk a lot more than most couples our age and he is my best friend without a doubt. I love him and agree with him that we will possibly be married in the future. The problem is, I can’t stand the uncertainty of the Army. We are waiting for him to get a waiver so he can go to basic this summer (too many traffic tickets). It’s been over a month since he went to MEPs and they still haven’t contacted him either way. There’s no telling where he will be in 4 years when I graduate from grad school. How do military wives deal with their own careers? After I’m married, I want to live with him. I want to be able to be with him as much as possible and I’m willing to live on base and raise my kids on base. But, are there generally job opportunities for spouses near bases? I plan on getting a Masters of Public Policy and be research oriented, but some of my friends said that the only jobs you could get would be minimum wage type jobs. Eventually, he is going to retire and I will be able to settle into a professorship at a university somewhere. I guess my main problem is the uncertainty the Army brings to MY dreams, plans, and goals. It seems to amplify the normal problem that almost engaged/engaged/newly married couples go through in synthesizing two lives into one. Do you have any advice, other than talking about it because we do, for us?

Thanks!

Dear Reader,

Uncertainty is a fact of military life.

A military spouse may have a career but it may require a certain degree of flexibility and creativity.

Some of the variables that will affect your job prospects are unknowable: where he is posted, at what point he is deployed, and how long it will be before you move again.

There are other considerations that are more under his and your control but may shift over time: what his career goals are in the military, what your short-term and long-term career goals are, and at what point you would like to start a family.

Every post is different. There are some where the job market is abysmal and there are others where there may be opportunities to someone in your field. When I was in Texas, there were many spouses who found various medical and administrative jobs at several nearby hospitals. You might even find a job with the military and will receive some preference in applying for federal jobs as a spouse.

I am not familiar with the types of institutions that hire people to do public policy research. I would imagine most “think tanks” are based out of Washington, DC, but there are probably national charities, public service institutions, school districts, and government offices near most posts. You might not find your ideal job at each location but you can probably find something that makes use of your skill set and education in many places.

Another option is a consulting or freelance position that enables you to telecommute. Although I was able to re-certify as a classroom teacher each time I moved, I decided it made more sense to consult and write curriculum. This way, I had continuity no matter when and where I moved and I had the perfect job for when we started our family. Plus, I maintained my qualifications in my career field and gained experience.

There are career fairs, virtual and face-to-face, online web portals, and state programs in many locations (Texas had a great one) dedicated to helping military spouses further their careers. So, there is help available. I am actually doing some research right now and plan to write a post about some of these resources.  In the meantime, here are some links that may be helpful for military spouses on the job hunt or assessing their career path:

You might also decide if you receive an assignment in an area that makes it difficult to pursue your career that it is a good time to try to publish your own papers, volunteer to keep up your credentials, and/or start your family. In other words, you can pursue a path parallel to your career goals, while fulfilling personal and family goals. Then, once you are in a better position personally and geographically, you are still more or less on-track.

Yes, you can continue to pursue a professional career. However, the path may have a few more twists.

Hope this helped!


“Ask Molly” represents only my opinion and the comments of readers represent their opinions. I draw upon my training as a Family Readiness Group leader, my own experience and that of those I know, and any research I found on the Internet. I am not a trained counselor. Have a question? Send questions to askmolly [at] armywiveslives [dot] com.

Unemployment Benefits for Military Spouses

I saw this in Army Times and then another Mom on Maya’s Mom posted it: 4 more states offer benefits to spouses forced to quit jobs (see excerpt and map below).

What are your thoughts on the topic? Should spouses who quit to move with a servicemember be entitled to unemployment? What, if any, restrictions should be placed on it?

Is it the least the states can do for the families who are serving? Is it critical to national security because of the need to retain servicemembers and keep family morale going? Is it promoting a culture of dependency and discouraging able bodied workers from finding work once they move?

What are your thoughts as a military spouse? as a citizen? as a taxpayer?

Should the federal government change the law to require states to define a military move as being unemployed “through no fault of your own?” Or should the military keep lobbying each of the remaining states individually?

My personal experience was I left my job and was not granted a leave of absence because I am a military spouse and they did not think I would be back (I actually have this in writing, smart PR move on their part, huh?).

Texas actually has a great program, Texas Workforce, available free to military spouses that provides resources for job hunting and actually pays for certifications, classes, gas, babysitting, and more while you look for a job if you left a job to move to Texas with your spouse on military orders.

I ended up freelancing, but they would have paid for all exams and certifications for me to transfer my teaching certification to Texas–down to the postage required for mailing in the forms.

Personally, I would like to see more funding for programs like this, helping military families to locate jobs when they PCS. However, I do think it is important to have a safety net for military families–especially because a servicemember will be more effective and more likely to stay in the military if his spouse and family are satisfied with their situation.

I do worry about abuses, as I do with any other benefits program for any group of people, but I do think in this case these new laws are on the right track.

I would love to hear your thoughts!

4 more states offer benefits to spouses forced to quit jobs (EXCERPT, click for full article)

According to the Defense Department, 21 states now allow trailing military spouses to receive unemployment benefits. Eight states deny such benefits outright; the rest consider such requests on a case-by-case basis.

The Pentagon is working this issue hard. Since defense officials launched a “USA 4 Military Families” state partnership program three years ago, 13 states have changed their policies to let spouses get unemployment compensation.

“I see it as a part of what DoD is doing today to connect these folks to military families and their communities,” said Joyce Raezer, chief operating officer for the National Military Family Association.

“For years, DoD’s attitude was that they couldn’t do anything about it, it wasn’t their issue,” Raezer said. “But now they are saying that if military spouse careers are important to retention, maybe they need to step up and do what they can to help spouses.”

Map of the states that offer unemployment to military spouses who move on orders: