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DoD Expands Military Spouse Employment Options Overseas

The Defense Department and State Department have partnered to expand job opportunities for military spouses overseas. The two agencies have signed a memorandum of understanding or MOU designed to streamline the employment process for military spouses interested in working remotely as federal employees.

Barriers to Military Spouse Job Opportunities?

A military spouse who has a federal job but must relocate to an overseas base has faced tough choices in the past. Leaving a federal position has career implications many don’t want.

Under the memorandum of understanding, expanded options for telework or remote work could eliminate the need for a military spouse to quit a federal job to relocate to an overseas base with their family.

Related: Military Benefits Guide for Military Spouses

Defense.gov published a press release on this federal job reform, quoting Deputy Secretary of Defense Kathleen Hicks, who went on record noting, “By signing the memorandum of agreement, we are enabling federally employed military spouses to work remotely from where their service member is stationed overseas and continue their professions with as little disruption as possible…”

Hicks made the remarks during a White House event, adding that this development is important for “the economic well-being of our military families” and that the move is crucial for retention both in the federal workplace and in the military.

Terms of the MOU

Defense.gov reports that the memorandum of understanding is limited and effective in “areas where DOD has approved accompanied assignments and established Military Housing Offices serving the local military community.” The MOU would not apply for unaccompanied tours where dependents or military spouses are not allowed.

Related: Military Benefits Guide for Military Spouses

The State Department’s Program

The U.S. State Department already manages a program called the Domestic Employees Teleworking Overseas (DETO) that handles remote work for federal employees.

According to Defense.gov, DETO overseas “arrangements by federal employees to work for pre-determined periods at approved overseas work sites while serving in domestic federal positions.”

Since signing the MOU, the State Department has agreed to accept DoD standards for remote work when considering federal employees for the option. Before the MOU, the State Department required “safety surveys” and other measures before an employee could be approved to work remotely.

The MOU streamlines the approvals, and is designed to end or prevent delays that kept some federal employees waiting for remote job approvals stateside while the rest of the family PCSed overseas.

What Motivated The MOU

Simply put, the motivation for the agreement seems to be numbers-based. What do we mean by this? Defense.gov notes the reforms are due to “a 21% unemployment rate among military spouses, according to White House figures.”

Approximately 16 thousand military-affiliated people work in federal jobs.

Related: Military Benefits Guide for Military Spouses

About the author

Editor-in-Chief | + posts

Editor-in-Chief Joe Wallace is a 13-year veteran of the United States Air Force and a former reporter/editor for Air Force Television News and the Pentagon Channel. His freelance work includes contract work for Motorola, VALoans.com, and Credit Karma. He is co-founder of Dim Art House in Springfield, Illinois, and spends his non-writing time as an abstract painter, independent publisher, and occasional filmmaker.