May is Military Spouse Appreciation Month
It’s an annual tradition; Military Spouse Appreciation Month in May is when the Department of Defense works to raise awareness of military spouses’ sacrifices. The agency also offers military spouses support to help them achieve personal goals and further their careers.
Each military branch observes Military Spouse Appreciation Day. Observances range from unit-level and base-level activities and events to virtual seminars and how-tos for military spouses to participate in online. Local units may have spouse employment fairs, you may find some bases go above and beyond for spouses during the month of May; others may be unable to do so because of mission requirements or operations tempo.
There are approximately a million military spouses. As the DoD press release about Military Spouse Appreciation Month reminds, military spouses are subject to “frequent moves to long separations while their spouse is on deployment.”
How does military life affect spouses? An Active Duty Spouse Survey hosted on MilitaryOneSource.com found that frequent changes of location required when the servicemember gets permanent change of station orders can be a complicating factor for spouses trying to maintain any sort of career.
Results of the Military Spouse Survey
What does a survey have to do with May being the month we honor military spouses? Part of its relevance is how the results give us a greater understanding of the needs of this special community.
The 2021 Military Spouses Survey, conducted by the Office of People Analytics, notes the following survey results:
- The unemployment rate for military spouses has been roughly 21% since 2015.
- Childcare issues were given as the main reasons a spouse was unemployed at survey time.
- Over half of the active duty spouses surveyed worked for “an employer that offered flexible scheduling.”
- PCS moves “increased the odds of unemployment significantly.”
- Living off-base and paying for civilian child care “decreased the odds of unemployment.”
Other results of the survey included:
- Being unemployed and needing new credentials after the last PCS move “each increased the odds of low financial well-being.”
- One in four active duty spouses “experienced low or very low food security.”
- Unemployment, children living at home, and having a working spouse contributing less than 50% to household income “increased the odds of low food security” according to the study.
Military Spouse Appreciation Month Comes With Opportunities
Military Spouse Appreciation Month culminates in a four-day Military Spouse Employment Partnership Hiring Fair. A DoD press release links to a page where military spouses presumably could sign up or get more information, but that link was broken at press time.
The hiring fair puts military spouses in touch with employers from a pool of more than 100. These companies are dedicated to “hiring, promoting, and retaining military spouses.” For some this event is the main attraction for the entire month, especially spouses who are still actively looking for work as a newly or recently married person.
The DOD Spouse Education and Career Opportunities program hosts MilSpouse Month 2023 and holds events for it via Zoom. There are two opportunities to attend each scheduled session. You can learn more about the sessions and how to sign up at the MySECO official site, which is part of MilitaryOneSource, a DoD website.
The month of May isn’t the only time the Defense Department tries to help mil spouses; the DOD established the Spouse Education and Career Opportunities program “to provide education and career guidance to military spouses worldwide, offering free, comprehensive resources and tools to assist military spouses in meeting their career and education goals. “ Military spouses can use the agency’s free career coaching options most days of the week.
About the author
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.