WASHINGTON - The Army Spouse Employment Partnership was expanded earlier this month by the Department of Defense and opened its resources to all military services and the U.S. Coast Guard, and to both active and Reserve components.

The new Military Spouse Employment Partnership, or MSEP, welcomed 15 more partner companies and a new website at www.msepjobs.com.

"This swings the door wide open for all military spouses to take advantage of the partnership,'" said Jim Sawhook, the program manager and government representative for MSEP on what he called the "re-brand of Army's highly successful program."

In its seven years, ASEP connected 100,000 Army spouses with partner employers around the globe. The department saw a proven system, established and successful partnerships and a program that was easily made available to help all military families, Sawhook said.

"I think one of the biggest wins for it will be in spouse career continuation," he added, talking about a strength of ASEP he sees easily achieved under MSEP, "So when a spouse moves from one duty station to the next, there's an opportunity for them to work for the same employer or with another partner employer in the same type of position."

The MSEP representative explained military spouses have to repeatedly go back to the bottom of their career ladders because they move so often. "This should help with that," he said.

Fifteen companies joined the partnership last week, starting MSEP toward its goal of more than 100 partners by the end of this fiscal year. All partners - including Home Depot, Wal-Mart and Microsoft - commit to transfer military spouses within the company or help them find equivalent work when they receive orders to move.

Sawhook said he sees a strategic advantage to MSEP over ASEP, but no disadvantage for Army spouses. He thinks the expanded labor pool (i.e., spouses from all services) will mean more businesses sign on to become partners and thus offer even more choices for spouses.

"That along with the geographic diverseness among the installations and the partner organizations would prevent jobs from not being available because of the expansion," he explained.

The new job site, at www.msepjobs.com, has been live for a few weeks. It gives military spouses two options on the homepage: first, to click for more pre-search preparation and second, to start searching for jobs by zip code or by state.

The preparation button (on the far left) sends users to MilitaryOneSource.com, where there is a number to call for help with resumes and more. Clicking away to the interactive map, users can scroll over their states and see the number of jobs available per field, from IT to finance to education. The site look is clean and navigation intuitive.

"This is something that is good for spouses. It's good for the military, for retention - satisfaction with the military mobile lifestyle," said Sawhook, who added that popular job website features, such as job and resume matching, will be added in the future.