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Executive Order: Better Job Opportunities for Military Spouses

President Joe Biden has issued an Executive Order to improve job opportunities for military spouses, according to a Department of Defense issued on Friday, June 9, 2023. The executive order also addresses employment opportunities for caregivers and surviving family members.

What the Executive Order Does

The order includes “a variety of actions to improve hiring and retention of military and veterans’ spouses in the federal government workforce, helping military and veteran spouses obtain employment outside of the federal government, and improving access to childcare for military families,” according to a Deputy Assistant to the President.

The executive order:

  • Requires creating a government-wide “strategic plan” for hiring and retaining military and veteran spouses, caregivers, and survivors.
  • The strategy “must include plans for marketing the talent, experience, and diversity” of military spouses, caregivers, and survivors.
  • The order includes “encouragement” to agencies “to set benchmarks to improve performance and accountability.”
  • Federal agencies must advertise military spouse non-competitive appointment authority in federal job postings,
  • The order emphasizes “increased telework options” to keep stateside jobs even when sent overseas.

There is also an emphasis on childcare. Without the ability to maintain affordable child care, military spouses face serious challenges in maintaining employment.

The executive order “directs the implementation of dependent care flexible saving accounts” for military families and expands the opportunities for spouses to “provide home-based childcare on military installations” through programs like Family Child Care or FCC.

Related: Military Child Care Basics

Signing the Executive Order

The President scheduled his signature on that order to occur during a visit to Fort Liberty, North Carolina, said to have the largest concentration of military spouses DoD-wide.

This executive order has been in the works for over a year and addresses much more than the spouse employment issue. But that issue all by itself is a serious one. How serious?

According to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation, military spouses have an “unwavering unemployment rate” of 22%, which went up to a whopping 38% “due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to one study.”

Why the Executive Order?

As mentioned above, the need for enhanced spouse employment opportunities is high, but part of the motivation for this Executive Order comes from the direct experience of the First Lady, Dr. Jill Biden, who teamed up with former First Lady Michelle Obama to form Joining Forces.

That project reached out to military spouses nationwide to learn what the most pressing needs in the military spouse community are–and how to provide better support.

The work gathering this information ran for two years, and those Joining Forces experiences, according to the DoD press release, directly informed the creation of the Executive Order.

Related: What to Know About Hiring Preference for Disabled Veterans

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.