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By Thomas Perry
DCMA Public Affairs
Military spouses sacrifice much to support their warfighters and troop readiness. The Department of Defense wants to reward that sacrifice and champion untapped professional assets.
In a Sept. 22 memo titled “Taking Care of Our Service Members and Families,” Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III highlighted several ways the Defense Department is set to improve financial security for military members and their families. The DOD website has a special landing page to detail many of these efforts.
“Our military families provide the strong foundation for our force, and we owe them our full support,” said Austin. “This is also personal for me. I have seen firsthand how much our military families sacrifice to keep our force strong, healthy and ready to defend this exceptional nation. In the face of challenges and frustrations, our families show incredible resilience. Over the past year, we have focused on ways to take even better care of our service members and their families. I am proud of the progress that we have made, and we will keep driving hard to do even more. I understand the extraordinary pressures that our military families face — and we are determined to do right by them, every step of the way.”
Improving military spouse employment is among the memo’s priorities, and the approach is multifaceted and includes developing occupational licensure interstate compacts; increasing noncompetitive, direct-hiring authorities; launching a new pilot to match military spouses with private-sector fellowships; and expanding the Military Spouse Employment Partnership.
To keep in step, DCMA rededicated its efforts to hire military spouses. The initiative aligns to benefit both employer and employee. The agency’s warfighter-support mission, global presence and organizational flexibility make it a perfect fit for military spouse employment, and military spouses provide professional acumen, a team-first mindset and unique warfighter-support insight.
According to DOD Civilian Careers, the Military Spouse Preference program, or MSP, provides a key component to boost spouse employment:
“It applies to spouses of active-duty military members of the Armed Forces, including the Coast Guard and full-time National Guard. The program offers opportunities for spouses who desire priority consideration for competitive service positions at DOD activities in the U.S. and its territories and possessions. When a service member is relocated via a permanent change of station, the spouse is entitled to MSP for all positions in the commuting area of the new duty station.”
Holly Borah, a Human Resources specialist and member of the Total Force Directorate’s Field Support Center, explained how hiring authorities can benefit from this program.
“The Military Spouse Preference was created by DOD to support military spouses in advancing their careers despite the frequent relocations required by military life,” said Borah. “They are often an untapped applicant pool for managers to consider. Many can bring a great skill set to the workforce.”
The DCMA workforce is dedicated to one mission: to produce and deliver the nation’s warfighters the equipment they need to fight, survive, win battles and come home, she said.
“Because of this, the hiring of military spouses is a vested interest in supporting the DCMA mission and civilian workforce,” said Borah. “What makes military spouses an asset to DCMA civilian workforce is they have the ability to deal with stress and pressure often in their lives, they are extremely adaptable, are committed and have an invested interest in supporting the warfighter.”
‘Taking Care of Our Service Members and Families’ priorities
For spouses who rely on state licenses for their professions, frequent permanent change of station moves can impact their earning potential, along with the mental and financial strain of reapplying for licenses in new states. Currently, licensure compacts for some professions exist, and the DOD is working on expanding those to more states. These compacts, developed with industry partners, include a variety of medical professions, and the department is working on agreements for teaching, social work, dentistry, massage therapy, and cosmetology/barbering for states to approve in 2023. This effort is expected to expand to more licenses in the future, according to the DOD. Details about transferring a license can be found on the Military OneSource website.
Austin also directed the military services to increase the opportunities for spouses receive a direct hire for noncompetitive positions. For those seeking positions outside the federal government, Austin promoted fellowships for military spouses through the U.S. Chamber of Commerce program “Hiring Our Heroes.”
Applications for DOD’s new Military Spouse Career Accelerator Program are being taken now for opportunities in 2023. Additionally, other companies have various fellowships available for military spouses. More details can be found on the Hiring our Heroes website.
The final effort includes expanding the Military Spouse Employment Partnership. The program started in 2011 and has helped more than 250,000 military spouses find employment, said Gilbert R. Cisneros Jr., the undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness, during an induction ceremony Oct. 25 at an MSEP three-day workshop in northern Virginia. During the induction ceremony, Cisneros recognized the 70 new employers added to the program, which now boasts more than 600 companies. Efforts to add more companies are ongoing. Visit the Military Spouse Employment Partnership website for more information.
Total Force Hiring Authority Guidance
“When deciding to fill a position using competitive procedures, managers are highly encouraged to include MSP eligible in their recruitment efforts,” said Rocky Weaver, Total Force Field Support Center director.
To be eligible for MSP, the spouse must:
• Be married to an active-duty member of the U.S. Armed Forces
• Reside within the commuting area of the military sponsor’s permanent duty station
• Meet all pre-employment criteria and be immediately appointable under the applicable recruitment procedures
• Be determined to rank among the best qualified for the position.
“Managers should consider and take advantage of military spousal hiring opportunities when filling their vacant positions," he said. "Military spouses are valued members of the military community that are well traveled and bring a breath of knowledge and experience, often bringing diversity, and have a tremendous amount of resilience that can be utilized in the civilian workforce.”
According to the Total Force Directorate, permanent and temporary/term positions at GS-15 and below (or equivalent) are eligible. There is no limit to the number of times spouses can exercise their MSP and priority placement for temporary and term positions.
Previously, MSP individuals had to register in the DOD Priority Placement Program, but that is no longer the case. In lieu of PPP registration, military spouses are required to submit the following documents when they apply to positions on USAJOBS:
• Narrative Resume
• PCS Orders
• Marriage certificate or license
• Notification of Personnel Action, known as SF-50, and Request for Preliminary Employment Data, known as SF-75, documenting current or previous federal appointment(s), if applicable
• An updated and signed Military Spouse PPP Self-Certification Checklist must be submitted with each job application
• Veteran’s Preference Documentation (e.g. DD-214, SF-15, VA Letter, Statement of Service), if applicable
• College transcripts, if applicable
A spouse may use the MSP at each qualifying permanent duty station until such time he or she accepts or declines a permanent position.
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