Second Lady Karen Pence applauds military spouses

Second Lady of the United States Karen Pence applauds military spouses during the Military Spouse Employment Partnership Annual New Partner Induction Ceremony at the Crystal Gateway Marriott, Arlington, VA, Oct. 22, 2019.

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The DOD’s Military Spouse Employment Partnership Program now has more than 400 employers onboard.

Forty-two new members were welcomed to the program Oct. 22 at the annual New Partner Induction Ceremony in Arlington. This inductee class was among the largest in MSEP’s eight-year history.

Through the MSEP initiative, employers commit to recruit, hire, promote and retain military spouses in portable careers. The program helps prepare spouses to be job-ready, and connects them with employers worldwide, with 24/7 access to job openings and career connections.

“The power of MSEP is the extraordinary opportunity to build connections that help military spouses find and maintain meaningful employment and careers so they can contribute financially to their households and the well-being of their families,” said A.T. Johnston, deputy assistant secretary of defense for Military Community and Family Policy.

MSEP has grown steadily since inducting its first class of 73 companies and organizations in 2011. Millions of jobs have been posted on the MSEP Job Search, with partner employers hiring more than 139,000 spouses.

Karen Pence, wife of Vice President Mike Pence, said it is important to stand with military spouses.

“Military spouses are flexible, hardworking and tremendous assets to our country,” she said. “They are the home-front heroes. I know this because I visit them all over the country and world.”

While military spouses are well-educated and highly qualified for a range of careers, according to the 2017 Spouse Employment and Education Survey, they face a 24 percent unemployment rate and a 25 percent wage gap compared to their civilian counterparts. The survey also revealed that 77 percent of these spouses want or need work; yet frequent relocation is often a barrier to finding and maintaining a rewarding career.

“You will not be sorry that you hire a military spouse,” said Barbara Ashley, who is a married to a service member. “They will always contribute more than they receive.”

The ability of spouses to obtain and retain fulfilling employment as they relocate helps to improve the quality of life of military families and the readiness of the military force, she further noted.

“Today, we celebrate 42 companies that are making great strides to provide a new home to military spouses,” Deputy Defense Secretary David L. Norquist said. “These organizations are helping us advance the national defense strategy.”

The MSEP initiative is part of DOD’s broader Spouse Education and Career Opportunities program. The department established SECO to provide education and career guidance to military spouses worldwide – offering free, comprehensive resources and tools related to career exploration, education, training and licensing, employment readiness and career connections. This program also offers free career coaching services six days a week.

Military OneSource is a DOD-funded program that is both a call center and a website providing comprehensive information, resources and assistance on every aspect of military life. Service members and the families of active duty, National Guard and reserve (regardless of activation status); Coast Guard members when activated for the Navy; defense expeditionary civilians; and survivors are eligible for Military OneSource services, which are available worldwide 24 hours a day, seven days a week, at no cost to the user.