Navigating a Career as a Military Spouse

June 18, 2012

While you are reading this, one out of every four military spouses is unemployed. 

A military spouse moves an average of 8 times during a servicemember's career.  Those moves often come with only a few weeks' notice. Maintaining employment under those conditions is obviously difficult. Planning a career is next to impossible.  I should know. As an attorney, I took and passed four different state bar exams in the first six years of my marriage to keep up with our military moves. After 10 years of practicing law, I was no nearer a lucrative career than a young lawyer fresh out of law school.

The reason? Military spouses have no network.  Most of us take for granted the group of trusted advisors we have worked for over the years, who can give us a hand up through an organization or industry. Military spouses, perpetually the new employee, never have one. In addition to all of the challenges that women face (and 95% of military spouses are women), military spouses are operating in a near vacuum when it comes to their own careers.

That is why organizations like the Center for Women in Business and Hiring Our Heroes (HOH) are critical to military spouses' success in this workforce.  With the incredible reach of the Chamber of Commerce, we can connect military spouses to a network of businesses and mentors who can help them plan a career and thrive.

CWB and Hiring Our Heroes' Military Spouse Business Alliance (MSBA) have teamed up to help give military spouses practical advice to guide them through career planning and put them in touch with people who are invested in helping them. Through joint networking and mentoring events, we are helping military spouses find leaders in their field, and enriching the lives of women leaders by exposing them to this incredibly resilient, driven and talented population.

Hiring Our Heroes and MSBA could not be more thrilled to have a partner like the CWB – together we will give these incredible women the support they need to rise to the top.

Laura Dempsey is Director of Military Spouse Employment Programs, Hiring our Heroes at the US Chamber of Commerce.

Read more on employment issues facing military spouses in Ms. Dempsey's editorial, Help for Military Spouses.