WASHINGTON, D.C. —The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s Hiring Our Heroes and the State of Wisconsin announced the launch of a state-wide Military Spouse Economic Empowerment Zone (MSEEZ).
“When state and local communities come together to recognize the talent and potential military spouses bring to the table, we collectively take another step in the right direction to combat military spouse unemployment and underemployment,” said Eric Eversole, president of Hiring Our Heroes and vice president at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. “Hiring Our Heroes has a strong history of creating meaningful employment connections for thousands of military spouses in communities around the world. We are proud to welcome the state of Wisconsin into a growing network working to provide local solutions to barriers to entry for military spouse employment.”
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 state of Wisconsin.
"Military spouses have served this country with grit and resilience, and have made sacrifices that must be observed and honored," said Department of Workforce Development Secretary Caleb Frostman. "We are excited by the possibilities that MSEEZ brings to Wisconsin. A program like this creates a workforce solution for our economy by welcoming a dedicated, innovative, and experienced contingent of professionals to our great state."
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.
“Wisconsin businesses applaud the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s efforts to match veterans and their spouses with the rewarding and diverse career options available in the private sector,” said Kurt R. Bauer, president and chief executive officers of Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce (WMC), Wisconsin’s Chamber and largest business association. “Our state has a labor shortage, which makes retaining and attracting as many working age people an economic imperative. Designating Wisconsin a MSEEZ is one of the multiple steps needed to help Wisconsin employers find the workers then need now and well into the future.”
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.
“We recognize the importance of the military spouses who serve our country with the sacrifices they make each and every day. Joining this initiative to hire 100,000 military spouses is one way we can acknowledge their valuable contributions to our country – both in and outside of the workplace. We are truly honored to be part of this important work,” said Anne Finch, chief executive officer at Logistics Health Incorporated.
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.