U.S. Chamber Foundation Launches Military Spouse Economic Empowerment Zone in Central Virginia

July 23, 2019

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State and local leaders gather for ceremony and working group launch of MSEEZ
State and local leaders gather together for the ceremonial launch and inaugural working group session of the Central Virginia Military Spouse Economic Empowerment Zone (MSEEZ).
© Lindsey Germono, Hiring Our Heroes

WASHINGTON, D.C. —The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s Hiring Our Heroes and the state of Virginia announce an expansion of the Virginia Military Spouse Economic Empowerment Zone (MSEEZ).  

“Military Spouse Economic Empowerment Zones are at the forefront in the efforts to combat the staggering military spouse unemployment rate,” said Eric Eversole, president of Hiring Our Heroes and vice president at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. “We are proud to welcome the central Virginia region into a growing network of communities across the state working to provide local solutions to barriers to entry for military spouses.”

Established to connect military spouses with companies committed to hiring, MSEEZs are collaborative efforts among business, civic and military communities to build employment networks in communities around the country — now including the central Virginia region.

“Virginia is pleased to partner with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in the establishment of Hiring Our Heroes Military Spouse Economic Empowerment Zones in Central Virginia,” said Carlos Hopkins, Virginia Secretary of Veterans and Defense Affairs. “The Commonwealth is home to the third-largest active duty and reserve population and it is critical that we provide our service members and their families with the support they deserve.  We look forward to working with our partners and V-3 certified companies to assist military spouses in finding gainful civilian employment.” 

Military spouses represent an untapped segment of the workforce of the future.  They provide employers with a rich talent pool of diverse and versatile candidates with an exceptional level of grit. 

"Having been raised in a military family, I have seen first-hand the great opportunities and the equally great challenges military spouses experience as they serve alongside their spouse," said Commissioner John L. Newby II, Virginia Department of Veterans Services (DVS). "This partnership between the Commonwealth, the Virginia Chamber and the U.S. Chamber aims to make employment possibilities easier for military spouses, so that they can continue to service their families and their nation.”

“Military Spouse Economic Empowerment Zones are great opportunities to drive business engagement and better connect the talented military spouses in our community to meaningful employment opportunities,” said Barry DuVal, president and CEO of the Virginia Chamber of Commerce. “It is important to the Virginia Chamber to partner with programs that provide veterans and military spouses access to education, mentorship, and opportunities to advance their careers.”

The MSEEZ program grew from the findings of a recent U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation study, Military Spouses in the Workplace, which found that an overwhelming majority of employed military spouses thought having two incomes was vitally important to their families. However, the study said, only 50% of military families reported having dual-income status. This disparity reflects added strain on military families and can ultimately factor into a service member’s decision to stay in — or leave — the military. Such decisions, in turn, can affect overall military readiness and retention.  

“Capital One recognizes and supports the sacrifices made by our military families and community. Developing workforce solutions for our military spouses is critical to our military families and our overall military readiness. Capital One is honored to be part of launching Military Spouse Economic Empowerment Zones (MSEEZ) across the Commonwealth of Virginia and elevating the employment opportunities available to our fantastic military spouses.” Chris Doss, senior director of operations at Capital One.

Hiring Our Heroes will launch MSEEZs throughout 2019 in communities across America. Building on a robust network of national and local employers, educational institutions and community resources, these MSEEZs will foster collaboration between key stakeholders to help identify best practices that will support and advance the mission of connecting military spouses with meaningful employment opportunities — and ultimately strengthen the financial security of our 21st century military families.