Employers, Elected Officials and Community Leaders Join Forces to Combat Shockingly High Unemployment Rates for Military Spouses

Washington, D.C. — Hiring Our Heroes’ Fifth Annual Military Spouse Employment Summit held today provided actionable items to the military community and stakeholders to reduce the current 38% military spouse unemployment rate and return the population to the workforce in 2021.

“Military spouses, more so than other populations in this country, suffered the economic challenges caused by COVID-19. But as we turn a corner on the pandemic, let’s leverage what we learned about remote work opportunities to empower military spouses as they search for those meaningful career opportunities,” said Hiring Our Heroes President Eric Eversole to a virtual audience of more than 2,000 people.

First Lady Jill Biden served as the keynote speaker for the summit, which also celebrated notable advancements in the spouse employment landscape. Broken down into a series of in-depth conversations, the line-up included participation from one of the military’s most senior active-duty spouses, Hollyanne Milley who is a cardiac nurse, and spouse of Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley. Hollyanne Milley provided her personal testimony of having to transfer her nursing license to various states during her 34-year career.

“Sometimes it would take three or four months to receive my licensure and start working. Other times I could hit the ground running,” Hollyanne Milley said.

Brianna Keilar, military spouse, anchor of “CNN New Day,” and author of “Home Front” moderated a panel with U.S. Rep. Joe Wilson (R-S.C.) and U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) that shined light on legislative priorities surrounding military spouse employment to include a current bill that contains a work opportunity tax credit and provides for flexible spending arrangements for childcare services for uniformed services families.

Additional highlights included the launch of Hiring Our Heroes’ new military spouse hiring initiative, Discover The Talent. This initiative empowers businesses of all sizes to support military spouse employment in their communities by working to target them for job opportunities then report and share their success.

The Military Spouse Research Collective (MSERC), which brings together the foremost military spouse employment research organizations and public and private sector stakeholders to build a foundation for how to collectively approach military spouse employment research, was also announced at the summit. See the collective’s conceptual framework here.

“Bringing this story to our nation’s consciousness is just the first step. To make meaningful change for our military families we must collectively commit to action. One sector or group can’t do it alone. It will take the collective impact of the legislative, corporate, government, and nonprofit partnerships to ensure the military spouse lifestyle is no longer a barrier to career success,” said Tony Wells, chief brand officer for USAA, the presenting sponsor of Wednesday’s summit.

Media that were not able to virtually attend the Military Spouse Employment Summit during its scheduled time can inquire with Stephanie Walton, swalton@uschamber.com, about getting a link to watch the recorded event.