The DOD Virtual Career Event Series seeks to connect military spouses to employment

Seeking to eliminate an unemployment rate of about 21% for active-duty spouses, the Department of Defense is holding a series of free virtual events through the end of May aimed at helping military spouses find work.

This month’s series of activities consists of a three-day symposium devoted to career development and employment preparation that took place May 14-16; a series of webinars, mock interviews and one-on-one resume reviews running today through Wednesday; and virtual job fairs May 29-30, according to Patricia Barron, deputy assistant secretary of defense for military community and family policy.

“[As service members] go about the business of serving our nation, the military spouse goes about the business of supporting them and supporting the family,” Barron told reporters during a virtual roundtable Monday.

“However, I can tell you that many, many military spouses… [also] they want to have some kind of career or be employed in some way.”

Looking to build on previous years, the theme for this month’s Spouse Employment Event Series is “Even More in ’24.”

“The sessions include a more robust series of employment events than we’ve had in previous years,” Barron said. “And they’re really designed to further that unique career goal that a military spouse might have through connections and also networking opportunities.”

Hosted by DOD’s Spouse Education and Career Opportunities SECO program, this year’s symposium focused on strengthening family military readiness by focusing on spousal support.

“What we are trying to do through this symposium is… [not only] equip spouses with the tools and resources they need; but most importantly, [provide] the connections they’ll need to get a job so they can provide that really important second income.”

Designed and dedicated specifically to career development and employment preparation, several topics at this year’s symposium included tips for building a strong resume, networking, mastering remote work, negotiation tactics and more.

Barron said SECO develops tools for each year’s symposium based on feedback from the previous year’s attendees.

“We do a lot of analysis of the kind of feedback we get after we do a symposium and think … “What else can we offer? “What is it that our spouses really want to hear?” And that’s what we’ve done: we’ve added some of those elements to this special symposium,” Barron said.

After a series of mock job interviews and one-on-one resume reviews this week, participating spouses will participate in virtual job fairs next week that connect spouses with hiring managers and representatives from more than 700 employers.

In addition to this month’s series of events supporting spousal employment, Barron also noted other DOD programs that are helping spouses find new jobs or maintain their current employment.

Barron’s highlighted the Military Career Accelerator Pilot program — which provides spouses with 12-week paid fellowships at employers across various industries and locations — as a huge success, noting that spouses who participated in the first year of program had a success rate of approximately 83%. in gaining permanent employment.

“It’s just been a great program,” Barron said. “And to carry it through the years would be phenomenal.”

As for military spouses being able to keep their current employment, Barron talked about an amendment Congress made to the Servicemembers Civil Assistance Act in January of last year that allows spouses to keep their professional licensing despite moving from one jurisdiction to another.

Barron said that while many states are still trying to figure out how to implement the new law, if there is an interstate agreement between the state in which the spouse is licensed and the state they are moving to, then the spouse should be able to keep license.

“If there is an interstate compact in that state already for that career field, it takes precedence over that particular law,” Barron said. “And we’re very tuned in to see how we’re progressing with those compacts.”

Barron credited Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III for making taking care of DOD personnel and their families one of his top three priorities.

“He focuses on that quite a bit,” Barron said. “He’s not just talking the talk, he’s walking the walk.”

Spouses interested in exploring the resources offered by the SECO program can visit

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