NMSN Magazine Spring 2022

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CAREER CONNECTIONS May 2022, Vol. 10, Issue 1

BRIDGING THE INTERNAL DIVIDE Getting the Military Employment Community on the Same Page www.nationalmilitaryspousenetwork.org



4 Getting on the Same Page

6 Generational Military Spouse Employment Experiences & Why They Matter

14 Top 10 (Hidden) Escalators of Workplace Conflict & What to Do About Them

18 Learning to Fish: Your Resource Connection

24 Standing Out in a Crowd

28 Make Your Goals Bigger Cover Photo by Trish Alegre-Smith No part of this publication can be reproduced, stored or transmitted in any form without the written permission of the Publisher.

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MAY 2022

President’s Letter

Sue Hoppin Founder & President National Military Spouse Network

Since our first National Military Spouse Network (NMSN) White Paper was released in 2019, we have called for the expansion of the Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC) to encompass military spouses. We were fortunate to have found allies on Capitol Hill who also believed that this could be an important tool to address and reduce military spouse unemployment. Through the leadership of bi-partisan congressional leaders, Representatives Antonio Delgado (D-NY), Donald Beyer (D-VA), Jimmy Panetta (D-CA), Don Bacon (R-NE), Mike Kelly (R-PA), and Cathy McMorris-Rodgers (R-WA), H.R. 2912 was introduced in the 116th Congress. The need for such legislation was underscored by the military spouses who joined us for our first NMSN Annual Day of Advocacy and took their stories to Capitol Hill, sharing the challenges and recommendations for tackling military spouse unemployment. Our voices were heard! By the end of the 116th Congress, H.R. 2912 had picked up 58 bi-partisan co-sponsors – but our work was not done. Not even a pandemic could slow us down. Once again, it was the voices of military spouses joining with NMSN from around the globe to advocate virtually that kept attention on the issues. In the 117th Congress, Representatives Delgado, Beyer, Panetta, Bacon, Kelly, and McMorris-Rodgers once again affirmed their commitment to military spouses by re-introducing the WOTC expansion legislation, H.R. 2974. Since then, the bill has gained incredible momentum and garnered 123 bi-partisan co-sponsors. Again, this was due in large part to the military spouses who joined us to take their cases directly to their legislators. Because it’s always best to work in a bi-partisan, bi-cameral manner, we had hoped for a Senate companion to the House bill in both the 116th and 177th Congresses. While that didn’t happen right away, we are so pleased to share that the Senate has now introduced companion bill S.3909 to H.R. 2974! This means that both chambers are currently working in concert with one another on ONE WOTC expansion bill to champion. Exciting news all around. We’re a long way from being done, but the finish line feels like it’s in our sights. We can’t say we’ve tried everything if we haven’t succeeded in expanding the Work Opportunity Tax Credit, to include military spouses as part of the target group! The WOTC is a tax credit meant to incentivize businesses to hire individuals in designated groups, including qualified veterans, ex-felons, summer youth employees, and more. The IRS finds that these groups share one thing in common: they have “consistently faced significant barriers to employment.” Using this definition, it’s obvious that the target group should be expanded to include military spouses, whose current unemployment rates currently stand at 10 – 11 times higher than the national average. Our NMSN Annual Day of Advocacy may be behind us, but we’ll continue the work and hope that you can join us to take your stories and support directly to policymakers. It only takes a quick call or email to your legislators to let them know that expanding the WOTC to include military spouses just makes sense. As always, thank you for your support of our military community. Together we can make this happen!

MAY 2022


NMSN Magazine




hen we look at the history of military spouse employment it feels exhausting. It has been an uphill battle waged by military families, leaders and advocates but with very little to show for it. It makes me wonder if we are having the same conversation. Are we looking at the right problems and are we asking the right questions? And what if this is a problem that cannot be solved by programming? As a military family reporter, advocate and editor of the National Military Spouse Network (NMSN) Magazine I have had the pleasure of interviewing representatives from all sides of the military spouse employment conversation. I have cheered for NMSN each time it releases its annual White Paper, for each legislative bill that is sponsored in support of spousal employment and each spouse who lands that dream job. But the conversations that have really stuck with me are the ones I’ve had with military spouses. I have found that the reasons they are unemployed or underemployed are so varied. According to research by Blue Star Families “There are many potential reasons for the lower rate of labor force participation including frequency of moves, inability to find employment that matched skill and education levels, inability to find employment that is flexible enough to accommodate 4 | NMSN Magazine

their military spouse’s schedule, child care issues, or stigmatization of the military lifestyle and the impact on employability.” Based on nearly a hundred interviews I have conducted with military spouses here are the top two factors that impact military spouse employment. Spoiler alert: these factors are not going away any time soon. 1. Military spouses bear the brunt of family/household responsibilities. 2. Frequent moves disrupt career progression.

Family Care Plans Military spouses serve as primary caregivers to children and are largely responsible for running a household during deployments. Although we are labeled “dependents” on all paperwork we are depended upon to sustain service members’ Family Care Plans. These plans vary by service branch, but according to DODI 1342.19, “assigns responsibilities, and prescribes procedures for the care of dependent family members of Service members.” This instruction is directed to single parents and dual-military couples. Family Care Plans are not required for service members who have a military spouse as it is silently assumed that the military spouse will fill this role. nationalmilitaryspousenetwork.org

But what if a military spouse works? They juggle. By and large, due to the demands of deployments, military spouses are primary caregivers, coordinating extracurricular activities and appointments, staying home with sick kids during illnesses, homeschooling them during a worldwide pandemic, etc. This unpaid labor takes military spouses away from paid employment. And it is this uneven distribution of household labor that we see reflected in military spouse unemployment data.

Frequent Moves Despite recent statements by Secretary Llyod Austin that the DOD should “pursue extended tour lengths” in order to reduce food insecurity, military families can expect to move every two to three years. These frequent moves not only impact food insecurity but also spousal employment, as they have a direct relationship with earning potential, promotion, retirement vesting schedules and more. It is this military lifestyle factor on which the bulk of military spouse employment efforts are focused. Military spouse hiring efforts led by the DOD and other nonprofit groups are aimed at informing would-be employers of the value of military spouses, asking them to ignore their upcoming rotation date. However, this factor is becoming less of a dealbreaker, MAY 2022

are higher than their potential earnings. Understanding military spouse employment decisionmaking criteria is the key to understanding how to better support military spouses. Instead of asking one demographic question, we need to ask harder questions: • If affordable child care was offered at your installation, would you seek employment? • Do you think your employment status (not working, not looking) would change if you experienced fewer military PCS moves?

as employers have had to pivot to sustain Millennial employees who “job hop” on par with the military PCS cycle, moving every 2 years and 9 months. But unlike civilian Millennials, military spouse Millennials do not have as much choice in their decision to relocate.

Making the Choice Not to Work Sadly, neither of these military lifestyle factors are going to go away any time soon. Military service members will move and are dependent upon their spouses to support the Homefront. While these experiences vary from household to household it leaves some spouses feeling as though they no longer have the freedom of choice. MAY 2022

Most military spouse surveys ask about employment status offering the following choices: • Employed (full-time) • Employed (part-time)

The situation may seem grim, but it does not mean we should give up! We must have these honest conversations and allow them to evolve over time. Because at the end of the day, military service is not a career, it is a lifestyle that asks a lot of military families. We as a military community need to get on the same page and honestly acknowledge the struggles and limitations of the lifestyle to better support one another.

• Self-employed • Not working (actively looking) • Not working (not looking) Sometimes this demographic question is the final word on the matter. Few surveys then ask why a military spouse is only employed part-time or not working (not looking). Some parents choose to stay at home to provide their children stability within the unpredictable military lifestyle. But for some spouses, it does not feel as though staying home is a choice, especially when the costs of childcare nationalmilitaryspousenetwork.org

Jennifer Barnhill is a freelance writer with a focus on military family advocacy, Navy spouse and mother of three. Her reporting has been featured in Military.com, The War Horse, We Are the Mighty, Military Spouse Magazine, Military Families Magazine and TheMilitaryWallet. com. She is the Chief Operating Officer of Partners in PROMISE and serves on both the National Military Spouse Network Day of Advocacy and The League of Wives Memorial Project Committees. NMSN Magazine


Generational Military Spouse Employment Experiences & Why They Matter BY MARLA BAUTISTA


ilitary spouses have been employed in and around the military for centuries. They supported war efforts as service members and employees of military support operations. Today’s generation is no different, but their experiences in the workforce are changing to reflect the modern career landscape. With job opportunities growing, many spouses can support themselves without help from their service member partner—but not all employment is created equal.

She was two months pregnant when she finally traded her active-duty military ID for a “dependent” ID. Initially, she found it difficult to fit in as a veteran and a military spouse because women were thought to be just military spouses, not veterans.

Generation X (1965 - 1980) Military spouse employment experiences can differ from generation to generation. Before 9/11 and the subsequent increase in our military force, there were fewer resources available for Generation X military spouses who were married to active-duty service members. Installation employment training, education and opportunities weren’t readily accessible nor were they promoted. Furthermore, many of the employment opportunities were solely serviced-based jobs at Department of Defense Commissaries and Exchanges. Digital job search and social media platforms like LinkedIn, Google and Facebook only became available in the late 1990s and early 2000s; spouses’ only way to connect was in person, via email or over the telephone, by making an actual phone call. Sherry Eifler is a military spouse of 31 years and a military veteran. Her exit from the military was an expected transition as she married a service member, and they were expecting their first child. 6 | NMSN Magazine

Generation X: Sherry Eifler, veteran turned milspouse


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Nevertheless, she found her way. Eifler conquered each challenge as it came despite the difficulty. But she did admit she missed being a soldier. She missed the camaraderie, the sense of family and the service to our nation. However, she had a new mission, to raise our nation's future leaders and teach the world about faith, hope and resilience as a Christian author. Since becoming a full-time military spouse and mom, her family has experienced 17 PCS (Permanent Change of Station) moves. “Settling” wasn’t something her family was used to doing. When asked how she connects with other spouses during her family's short stints at duty stations she said, “I mostly connect with my fellow military spouses by doing life alongside them as a volunteer within my soldier’s unit, neighborhood, chapel, spouses club and PWOC (Protestant Women of the Chapel). When my children were school-aged, I credited them with finding my friends because their friendships connected me to other spouses.” As an author and entrepreneur, Eifler now connects with other military spouses via digital media as a guest on podcasts and at speaking engagements. She’s made many meaningful connections during her time as a military spouse. “No one told me about the beauty of friendships I would develop if I remained open and available to be friends with all spouses, regardless of their service members' rank or position in the organization,” said Eifler. “I’m so thankful I have my amazing friends to do life with!”

The Millennial Generation (1981 - 1996)

Millenial Employee: Amber Conroy

Millennial spouses have benefitted from working with their employers to address challenges specific to them, like the availability of healthcare, child care and flexible work opportunities. For instance, many millennial parents prefer to enroll their children in daycare facilities close to their workplace because they want convenient child care that reduces travel time. This isn’t always easy—but companies are increasingly making steps toward accommodating millennial employees who face challenges obtaining efficient child care. The military has also stepped up its child care game in recent years, offering fee reimbursement in addition to providing child care at Child Development Centers.

Amber Conroy is an Air Force Reserve spouse of 14 years. She is a traditional employee who swears by LinkedIn’s digital platform. She uses it to connect with other military spouses, but “not just military spouses but I’ve really found a greater connection with reserve spouses that also work full-time jobs and raise their babies,” said Conroy. “Finding that common bond goes a long way!” She continued, “If I could sum up the 14 years in one piece of advice it would be to enjoy the journey! You are going to have bad days and very good days, but in the end, this military community is a strong unified group of people from all generations! It’s definitely a brother-sisterhood!”

MAY 2022


NMSN Magazine


Generation Z (1997 - 2012) As Gen Z-ers continue to age, we can expect more military spouses from their generation to be employed than previous generations. Many military spouses from Generation Z are going to be employed by choice rather than necessity— which means they’ll have more employment options available to them. Gen Zers tend to value work/life balance over higher salaries when considering job offers. This could make finding employment particularly challenging for military spouses who don’t want to uproot their families every few years. Alora Feller is an active-duty Army soldier and the spouse of a military veteran. Not only has she

Millenial Advocate & Entrepreneur: Lexi Fontaine Lexi Fontaine, also a Millennial milspouse, has been married to an active-duty Airman for more than seven years. She connects with other spouses online and believes that “to guide and help people you first have to be willing to do the work to gain their trust. We can do that by fostering genuine personal connection, showing sincere compassion and remembering that everyone around us is a human being first and foremost, not just another military spouse or member.” As a military spouse who’s faced medical challenges, Fontaine is now a chronic illness and mental health advocate as well as an entertainer and entrepreneur. Fontaine has some advice for new military spouses, “No one else is you, or your spouse. Make the decisions that work the best for you. You are more than JUST a military spouse. Your spouse is more than JUST a service member,” said Fontaine. “You are both human beings, first and foremost, and while the military is all about structure, you are still allowed to have a full scope of emotions and experiences.” 8 | NMSN Magazine

Active-duty soldier, Alora Feller shares a Gen-Z employment perspective


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experienced employment as a military member, but she is also a mother of two young children. Connecting with other spouses is a challenge for Feller because she works with other service members, connecting with and attending offduty events with them versus their spouses. However, she has learned to reach out for help when in need. When she is able, Feller connects

with spouses online with similar interests or at in-person events like Exceptional Family Member Program (EFMP) support activities. Learning from the challenges as a dual-military couple Feller said, “You and your spouse should not put work before family. Because at the end of the day, your family will always be there. Work will not.”

MilSpouse Employment Experiences by Generation Generation X


Generation Z

Age Range

42 - 57

26 - 41

10 - 25

Career Level

Late Career


Early/Entry Level

Work Styles*

Change the Rules

Create the Rules

Balance the Rules

Primary Struggle**

Ageism & Keeping up with Technology

Wage Inequality Post Recession/Pandemic

Pandemic & Imposter Syndrome

Primary Advantage***

Varied Experiences & Seeking Long-Term Development

Technologically Savvy & Highly Educated

“Digital Generation” & Self-Proclaimed “Hardest Working”

Sources * https://www.shrm.org/resourcesandtools/hr-topics/global-hr/pages/generational-mindsets-affect-workforce.aspx ** https://www.businessinsider.com/its-a-hot-job-market-unless-you-are-gen-z-2022-2 https://www.shrm.org/resourcesandtools/hr-topics/employee-relations/pages/gen-z-worries-about-work-skills.aspx https://www.usatoday.com/story/money/careers/2021/07/26/gen-x-workers-unemployment-covid-survey/5381403001/ *** https://www.pewresearch.org/social-trends/2019/02/14/millennial-life-how-young-adulthood-today-compares-with-priorgenerations-2/ https://www.forbes.com/sites/adp/2016/01/21/why-recruiting-gen-x-is-more-important-than-you-think/?sh=7bebbe4f71ed

Military spouse employment challenges are considerable, but they are not insurmountable. As Generation X-ers, Millennials, and Gen Z-ers forge their paths as military spouses, there is a unique opportunity to build upon—and grow from—the generations that have come before. From what we’ve learned about how military spouses have been employed through generations, we know that employment decisions made now could impact future generations. So, remember, today’s employment decisions can impact not only our own lives but also those of our children and grandchildren. As military MAY 2022

spouses, we can continue making strides for future generations through our willingness to listen, learn and evolve.

Marla Bautista is the author of My Thoughts Abandoned and co-author of Brave Women, Strong Faith. She is also a freelance writer, blogger, and speaker. Her passion is giving to people in need. She does so as the co-founder of the Bautista Project Inc, a nonprofit organization providing homeless community members in Tampa, FL.


NMSN Magazine




suit up


We are ready to show up! Brighter, bolder and


Powder Blue

Almond Oil



Harbor Blue


Saddle Brown


Snow White


more vibrant than ever. Dopamine dressing means work weekdays can be extraordinary and that paves the way to work. Get ready to bring joy and life back to our closets with vivid prints and courageous colors.

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MAY 2022

SUIT UP The two-piece blazer suit is the prime example of when a classic is trending! This is great news as you transition out of your Zoom outfit and into the head-to-toe set. The suit is reinvented for our entrance back into the office. Bright neons, leather, linen, ruffles, floral, anything goes. Wear the pieces as separates for versatility. You can still wear your joggers or jeans on the weekend with a blazer. Have fun exploring a variety of bottoms with the top and vice versa.

Higher waistlines mean a cropped top will not show the mid-section


Boyfriend cut -- modified from a man's version means this style is longer and has a more relaxed fit

WEAR IT WITH: Jumpsuits Skirt Set Jeans and Sneakers Wid-leg Trousers

Wide-leg pant

Bermuda Shorts Dresses MAY 2022


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IT'S A WRAP Thank you to Diane von Furstenburg who is known for designing the wrap dress. This silhouette drapes fabulously on all body types.Try one on with strappy sandals or layer it with a jean jacket for a more casual outfit.

WEAR IT WITH: Neutral Colored Denim Jacket Booties (weather-dependent) Sneakers Heels Blazer Cardigan 12 | NMSN Magazine


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JUMP-SUIT IT The jumpsuit offers a variety of styles to our professional closet so do not count it out. Aside from the usual trouser and blouse or dress, the jumpsuit adds an element of excitement in that it is a quick one-piece option. If a jumpsuit could speak it would be the most talkative in the room.

Wear a cami or fitted tank underneath so you do not feel as exposed in the restroom LOL

drones on, As the week ake ressing will m dopamine d rkat in your wo you feel gre e u can ride th wear and yo e the look all th high & rock y hour! way to happ

WEAR IT WITH: Blazers Erin Hodgkinson founded Frilly Simple, a women mobile micro-boutique in 2013. The brand has expanded to include locations nationally and internationally. She approaches fashion as a means to motivate milspouses and milmoms to elevate their everyday. Erin grew up in colorful Colorado where her formal education includes a BA in English, as well as a teaching certification. MAY 2022


Colored Denim Jacket Sneakers Strappy Sandals Mules Heels NMSN Magazine

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Top 10 (Hidden) Escalators of Workplace Conflict & What to Do About Them BY CAROL BOWSER, JD


s we start interacting with coworkers faceto-face, we need to remember that even the best internal communication systems can break down. The top performers can be a pain when they push for their own agendas and timelines. Even the "Best Places to Work" suffer from workplace conflict. Unless the hidden sources that cause and escalate the tension and conflict are addressed, bad things happen: conflict escalates; people suffer; managers lose credibility; business suffers. The pain of unresolved conflict can be avoided - but only if the source of the conflict is addressed. Here are the Top 10 hidden escalators of conflict at work, how to recognize them and what to do about them.

Unarticulated Assumptions Every conflict has an element of unarticulated assumptions. Each person has a very closely held belief about "the way things should work" or "THE way things are" - according to them. Unfortunately, very few people articulate what those assumptions are. When those assumptions prove incorrect, frustration and anger seep in.

Unmet Expectations Like unarticulated assumptions, unmet expectations are at the root of every conflict. While unarticulated assumptions focus on the way things are done, an unmet expectation is the relied upon outcome. When the expected outcome does not happen, people become upset and frustrated THEN look for someone to blame.

Perceived Lack of Respect A HUGE driver of conflict. What is "respectful" to one person can be the height of "disrespect" to another. You don't know if what other people are doing is intended to be respectful unless you ask. 14 | NMSN Magazine

Others don't know that you believe them to be disrespectful unless you tell them. "What is essential is invisible to the eye." -- The Little Prince

Clashing Communication Styles Some people speak in headlines. Some speak in stories. Some people just hint. When the communication styles are in sync, everything is copacetic. When the styles are out of sync, negative attributions fly. "Bully." "Rambles on.” “Will not get to the point." "Passive-aggressive."

Playing "FIXER" Time and energy are lost by well-intended, unilateral actions. By jumping in to "solve the problem", individuals often create new problems because they have misdiagnosed the issue and improperly took on the role of "fixer."

All Talk - No Action Failing to take action is as bad as playing "Fixer". Unfulfilled promises to address the problem and hold people accountable, cause people to lose faith in you and the organization.

Fuzzy Boundaries Power abhors a vacuum. When organizational boundaries and job descriptions are not clear someone will step up or inappropriately take over. A lack of clear boundaries fuels unarticulated assumptions and a perceived lack of respect.

Running Amuck Improvisation is great in jazz - horrible in conflict resolution. Most people never have a difficult


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conversation because they do not know what to do or how to do it. The result? Important conversations never take place or if attempted have poor results

Fixes: What to Do and How to Do It •

the Unarticulated Assumptions and Unmet Expectations. Do this by asking, "what about this situation did not meet your expectations?"

Blame and Shame Game Ruminating over whose fault something is never resolves a conflict. Neither does attributing a problem to someone's "personality". Discussing an issue is productive only if the discussion leads to resolution, which means identifying the problems and moving to problem-solving.

Explore if Perceived Lack of Respect is an issue or THE issue. Ask, "does respect have anything to do with this?"

Assess if the Communication Style is driving the conflict, and then adapt your style to the other person's. Add more details for the storyteller. Speak in bullet points for the headliner. Ask broad general questions that do not require stating an individual preference for the hinter.

Avoid playing The Fixer. Ask those involved if they want your assistance in their own efforts to solve the problem. Do not volunteer to take on a burden that someone else can and should do on his own.

Arguing with the Line in the Sand The shortest distance to career suicide is to cross the line that differentiates standing up for yourself from insubordination. Failure to recognize and respect the insubordination line also escalates conflict at work. Those who do not feel heard or respected will attempt to BE HEARD through unconventional means - usually by talking more, louder, faster and to more people. MAY 2022

Define the correct problem by determining


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Action Speaks. Provide updates as you can. Do what you say that you will do.

Define Boundaries - personal and professional. Articulate where your boundaries are and where you believe others' boundaries to be. State, "here is where I see the demarcation line between our jobs. Do you see them the same?"

Avoid Running Amuck. Instead, have a plan and stick to it. For example: · Step 1: Determine for sure how the other person defines the problem. · Step 2: Tell the person what you believe to be their perspective (you could be wrong). · Step 3: Articulate how you see the situation.

Respect The Line in the Sand. Once decisions are made it is time to move from advocating your position to supporting the decision. Ask when the time for evaluating the success of the program will be and, in the meantime, track the success with objective measurements. It might be that you simply believe the priorities should be different. Unless your job title allows you to make those decisions, it is your job to support the decision.

The saying goes, knowledge is power. So now that you know the top 10 hidden escalators of conflict, I challenge you to look around your workplace. Do you see any of the hidden escalators? Find one then try out the fix. See how it goes. You might be pleasantly surprised.

· Step 4: Set an agenda to address each issue, yours and theirs. · Step 5: Dive into the discussion one issue at a time. · Step 6: Memorialize agreements and next steps. •

Move from Blame and Shame to problem-solving. The problem is never the person -- the problem is the impact of the behavior. Make a deliberate move to problem-solving by articulating how each person defines the problem then ask, "so where do we go from here?"

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Carol Bowser, Conflict Management Expert. Organizations hire Conflict Management Strategies, Inc. to increase productivity by easing workplace conflict and tension, to train employees in conflict resolution skills, to evaluate internal conflict resolution processes, to coach key employees to higher levels of performance and to facilitate tangible change within the working environment.


MAY 2022


MADE FOR MILITARY FAMILIES COVERAGE FOR AS LOW AS $12/MO. 1 USAA Life Insurance offers military-focused benefits, so you can help ensure that you have enough protection in place.

IT’S EASY TO GET A QUOTE Visit USAA.COM/LIFE or call 800-531-LIFE (5433)


Rates shown for $100,000 10-year Level Term V for a 35-year-old male at best risk class available for these products. Risk class is determined by factors such as tobacco use,

health, family medical history and lifestyle. Quotes provided are intended for estimate purposes only. We round up your life insurance needs amount to the nearest commonly purchased coverage amount. The presented quote may represent a higher amount of coverage than you apply for. Your actual premium will be determined by underwriting review. Rates may vary by state. Level Term V: Premiums remain level for the duration of the Initial Benefit Period, then increase annually while benefits remain the same. Form LLT98952ST 05-18 (varies by state). In New York: New York Term Series V, Form NLT99235NY 08-19. Call for details on specific policy costs, benefits, limitations and availability in your state. Images do not represent any endorsement, expressed or implied, by the Department of Defense or any other United States government agency. Life insurance and annuities provided by USAA Life Insurance Company, San Antonio, TX, and in New York by USAA Life Insurance Company of New York, Highland Falls, NY. All insurance products are subject to state availability, issue limitations and contractual terms and conditions. Each company has sole financial responsibility for its own products. © NMSN Magazine | 17 MAY nationalmilitaryspousenetwork.org 20212022 USAA. 267746-0522

Learning to Fish: Your Resource Connection BY JANET FARLEY, ED.M.


t may be hard to believe now, but a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, resources designed to help you navigate your career and the never-ending challenges that come with being married to the military were non-existent. Over the years, dots have been connected between the readiness of the fighting force and the well-being of those

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who love them. The tireless advocacy efforts of many across industries have resulted in a significant cultural shift and as a result, you now have unprecedented access to many meaningful resources. And that’s great, right? Unless, like many, you’re easily overwhelmed by the sheer magnitude of resources. If you


are someone who isn’t sure where to begin looking, then look no further. Whether you are searching for a job, funding for college, or trying to advance in your own career, we have you covered here with a basic list of need-to-know resources that go above and beyond your installation’s all-important employment readiness and transition assistance programs.

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Spouse Education and Career Opportunities (SECO)

This robust and ever-evolving Department of Defense (DOD) program provides education and career guidance to military spouses worldwide and it also offers many other resources and tools for you, regardless of your career level.

Free Udemy Membership

Military Spouse Scholarship Search

MyCAA Scholarship ($4K)

MySTeP: Military Spouse Transition Program

Who Can Use It? •

Spouses of active-duty, National Guard and Reserve Component military members in the Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force and Space Force Spouses of military members separated from active duty, National Guard and Reserve Components for less than 365 days Surviving spouses of military members who died while on active duty

What to Know: •

Create a MySECO account to use any of the tools and resources.

MySECO provides you with access to jobs, career coaching, scholarships and more.

Programs cover all phases of military life from entry to transition and retirement.

Offers free limited memberships to LinkedIn Premium, FlexJobs and others.

Important Links * •

MySeco (Main portal)

LinkedIn Premium Upgrade

Free FlexJobs Membership

MAY 2022

Assess Your Values and Skills (Career Self-Assessments including a free Myers-Briggs test)

Licensure and Certification Reimbursement Program If your career requires state licensure or certification, then you may already be familiar with the financial pain inflicted by Permanent Change of Station (PCS) moves that require you to re-license or recertify in your new “home” state. Thanks to the 2018 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), each service branch is now allowed to reimburse spouses up to $1,000 for relicensure and certification costs resulting from relocations or PCS moves that cross U.S. state lines. This includes PCS moves Outside the Continental United States (OCONUS).

Who Can Use It? •

Military spouses of service members of any rank who have moved because of military PCS orders and already have an existing valid license or certification in one state.

Important Links * •

Transferring Your Professional License: What's Involved (Military OneSource)

Army Directive 2020-01, Reimbursement for State Licensure and Certification Costs (Army)

MARADMIN 091/20, Spouse Reimbursement for State Licensure and Certification Costs (Marine Corps)

MILSPERMAN 1754-040, Military Spouse Licensure Reimbursement (Navy)

Spouse Licensure Reimbursement Program FAQs (Air Force)

License and Certification Reimbursement for Spouses (Coast Guard)

Military Spouse Preference for Federal Employment Federal employment is always an attractive career option for military spouses. With access to military spouse employment preferences and authorities, it is easier than ever to get your foot in the federal door.

Who Can Use It? •

Military spouses of active-duty service members of any rank

Spouses of service members who are 100% disabled due a service-connected injury

Spouses of service members killed on active duty

What to Know: •

Each service branch has their own complicated set of procedures. You can use it for multiple PCS moves. nationalmilitaryspousenetwork.org

What to Know: •

Eligibility doesn’t equal entitlement. You must apply for the jobs, be qualified for them, and meet any NMSN Magazine

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additional application requirements such as a background investigation.

Onward to Opportunity (O2O)

Connect with the local installation employment readiness program for more local details.

This gem of a program, funded through generous grants, offers professional certification opportunities and employee support through the job search process and beyond at absolutely no cost to you.

To apply for federal employment, create an account at USAJobs.

If you want a federal career post-military life, establish it while you are married to the active-duty military service member to avoid potential loss of employment eligibility opportunities later in life.

Important Links * •

USA Jobs Unique Hiring Paths - Military Spouses

FedsHIREVets: Special Hiring Authorities for Military Spouses and Family Members

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Who Can Use It? •

Transitioning service members, veterans and military spouses of both.

What to Know: •

It’s a one-and-done deal. You can't go back for seconds on this program.

Excellent resource for IT and HR certifications.

Virtual are options available. nationalmilitaryspousenetwork.org

Offers invaluable local community networking opportunities.

Important Links * •

Onward to Opportunity (O2O)

O2O Career Pathways

National Military Spouse Network (NMSN) You already know how fabulous NMSN is, but we would be remiss not to mention us here. NMSN is the pre-eminent networking, mentoring and professional development organization committed to the education, empowerment and advancement of military spouses.

Who Can Use It? •

Military spouses of service members and veterans MAY 2022

What to Know: •

Excellent resource for networking.

NMSN hosts an annual Military Spouse Career Summit that shouldn’t be missed.

Offers expert advice across career topics online and through its

premier publication, Career Connections

Advocates and publishes an annual white paper that helps move the national needle on spouse employment issues.

Hiring Our Heroes (HOH)

Important Links * •

National Military Spouse Network

2022 NMSN White Paper

HOH, as a part of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, strives to connect the military community with civilian companies to “create economic opportunity and a strong and diversified workforce.”

Military Spouse Must Know Resources Resource





Job Coaching



LinkedIn Premium

1-year free subscription




1-year free subscription




1-year free subscription




Scholarship Search




4K Educational Scholarship

AD (rank limited)



Transition Program



Licensure Reimbursement

Professional Certifications/ Licensure


https://www.militaryonesource.mil/education-employment/ for-spouses/education-training-licensing/transferring-yourprofessional-license-what-s-involved/

Fed Employment

MilSpouse Preference


https://www.usajobs.gov/help/working-in-government/ unique-hiring-paths/military-spouses/

Onward to Opportunity

Professional Certifications




Networking Training Advocacy



Hiring Our Heroes

Networking Training Advocacy



Education Benefits

GI Bill Transferability






https://www.veterati.com/ https://www.acp-usa.org/ https://www.ementorprogram.org/

Key: AD = Active-duty spouses / VS = Veteran spouses / OT = Additional eligibilities MAY 2022


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Who Can Use It?

Who Can Use It?

HOH serves military and veteran spouses, as well as military caregivers.

What to Know: •

Signature resources and programs include Amplify workshops, the MilSpouse Roadmap, the Military Spouse Fellowship Program, Facebook/LinkedIn virtual networks and national job fairs.

There is no cost to you for HOH programs and services.

Spouses and dependent children approved by the VA

What to Know: •

The service member must have completed at least six years of service on the date the request is approved AND the service member agrees to add four years for service AND the person getting the benefit has been enrolled in the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting Systems (DEERS).

Important Links *

Important Links *

Who Can Use It?

Military Spouse Resources Hiring Our Heroes

Post-9/11 GI Bill Transferability Unused service member educational benefits may be transferred to military spouses and dependent children under specific conditions. This benefit can include tuition, housing, books and supplies.

Transfer Your Post-9/11 GI Bill Benefits | Veterans Affairs

Mentorship Opportunities Having the right mentor can help you advance in your career by leaps and bounds. Professionally focused military spouses can benefit from several non-profit mentorship programs.

Janet Farley, Ed.M., CPRW, CFJST, CFCC is a career coach,a professional resume writer and the author of ten career/life advice guides, most recently Mission Transition: Managing Your Career and Your Retirement (Rowman & Littlefield, 2018) and Military Life 101: Basic Training for New Military Families (Rowman & Littlefield, 2016). A proud spouse of an Army veteran and a dedicated advocate for all those who have served in uniform and for those who have given their hearts to them, she offers straightforward career management and job search advice based on more than twenty-five years of experience working in employment services across multiple industries stateside and abroad. She holds a Master’s Degree in Human Services and Human Resource Education from Boston University and is a Certified Professional Resume Writer (PARWCC), Federal Job Search Coach and Career Coach. Farley is also a graduate of Skillfull’s Colorado Governor’s Coaching Corps and currently resides in Colorado Springs, Colorado with her family. Reach her at https://www.linkedin.com/in/janetfarley/. 22 | NMSN Magazine


Military spouses of service members and veterans

What to Know: •

There is no cost to participate in the noted programs.

Mentorship doesn’t have to happen in a program. You can find your own, too.

Important Links * •


American Corporate Partners


* Learning to Fish Please note that these links are currently active, but DOD links are often changed and programs are often updated. We recommend using this article as a jumping off point. Use the phrases to guide your key search terms. Broken links should not stop you from availing yourself of all the available employment resources at your disposal. MAY 2022

Learn More About Our Advocacy MAY 2022


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Standing Out in a Crowd BY TRISH ALEGRE-SMITH


n-person conferences are springing up and I have been slowly coming back in. It’s time to start practicing how to stand out in a crowd of attendees again.

How others can find you in the crowd I was one of 6,500+ people in attendance and this was my first conference of the year. It was hard enough to remember where my room was in the at the Gaylord National Harbor, MD–and I’ve worked this venue before as an event photographer– let alone figure out how I was going to connect with other attendees and stand out somehow. Compare this to the annual National Military Spouse Network Milspouse Summit which caps attendance at around 100 attendees to keep things intimate and 24 | NMSN Magazine

approachable and this task seemed daunting if not impossible. So, what was my plan?

Step 1: Connect on social media ahead of time. With so many attending and less than a week from the convention, I needed to re-think my approach to “meeting” people. First action was to follow and start using the convention hashtags (#imagingusa) on social media—posting what I was doing to prepare for the trip and engaging with others who were using the same hashtags. Second action was to follow convention speakers and vendors on social media (e.g., Facebook, Instagram and Twitter) who I wanted to see while I was there. Some conventions even create their own apps or


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outsource to platforms like Whova that allow you to connect ahead of time, so be sure to do your homework.

Step 2: Decide what I wanted to accomplish. This convention is my most expensive professional conference of the year when travel and lodging costs were included. Every dollar and minute spent mattered. What did I want to get out of this experience? Not only did I want to meet peers in my industry but connect with others that would continue to inspire me and push me to grow. I also wanted to meet vendors and take the time to personally thank those who helped me when I first started my business. Finally, I wanted to explore potential collaborations with other attendees with similar goals.

Step 3: Arrive early. "To be early is to be on time; to be on time is to be late.” These words echoed in my head during my days in Air Force ROTC! And it still applies when it comes to large conventions like these. I took advantage of pre-convention classes and workshops to “Get ahead of the wave!” that was coming when the convention officially kicked off. Who also shows up early? Speakers and vendors— making it more likely I’d meet them before everyone else.

Step 4: Be myself. For those who have met me, I’m not a “look-at-me” kind of person—I’m closer to being described as an “introverted extrovert.” This presented a unique challenge as I traveled solo and didn’t really know anyone there. It also presented an opportunity. I had no obligations and no other choice but to get to know the new people that I met—especially if we were in the same classes and hotel and mutually wanted to avoid meals at a “table for one.” It felt more natural for me to connect like this and made conversations flow easier. It didn’t feel like “networking” as much as getting to know potential friends. At the end of the week, I accomplished everything that I wanted to do—and it wasn’t as hard or as scary as I thought it would be. I’m looking forward to my next conference—even though it won’t nearly be as large as this one.

Trish Alegre-Smith in action, photographing military spouses at the 2022 Armed Forces Insurance Military Spouse of the Year program MAY 2022

For over a decade Trish Alegre-Smith managed multimillion dollar aircraft maintenance and weapons development programs for the United States Air Force. She brings her unique skill set to the NMSN team—turning her experience in evaluating contract proposals and contract surveillance into an asset that supports social enterprises and small businesses in pursuit of their goals. She currently freelances as a proposal specialist and writer and runs her own business as a professional photographer in the Washington, D.C.-area. Trish is also an Air Force spouse, mom of three school-aged children, and teaches Filipino folk and Polynesian dancing to share the diversity of Asian and Pacific Islander culture and its impact on the American identity.


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Your Conference Checklist BY SUE HOPPIN


ere’s a simple checklist of things you can do to make the most of your conference attendance.

Before the conference: • Keep things affordable by taking advantage of early-bird pricing or finding a roommate to help defray the cost of attendance.

• Determine your goals – what do you want to get out of the conference? Who do you want to meet? • Prep your conference schedule – if there are multiple tracks, decide which fits your professional goals best. • Pack plenty of business cards and any leavebehind materials you think you’ll need (an example of this would be product samples or media kits for potential sponsors/advertisers). • Work on your elevator pitch. • If there is an online networking group set up for your conference, take advantage of the opportunity to engage with other attendees and speakers ahead of the event. • Plan your wardrobe and make sure you’ve packed appropriately for all events. • Update your social media profiles ahead of time because you’re going to pick up many new connections during the event.

During the conference: • Dress in layers – conference rooms run notoriously too hot or too cold. • Set up a time to sit down for conversations with other attendees • Interact with presenters – ask good questions where appropriate, but keep it germane to the larger audience. If you have a question to ask that’s just appropriate to your situation, take it offline. • Use meal times as networking opportunities and sit with different people each time. • Attend the social events – these are just as important as the official conference sessions. You’ll find that most of the networking gets done during these events. 26 | NMSN Magazine


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• Follow up with your new contacts. • Share the information with people who couldn’t attend. Remember, professional development conferences are a fantastic opportunity to keep up on your industry trends, learn new skills and make new contacts, but you have to be proactive in order to make the most of your time and efforts. When planning your conferences for the year, mark your calendar for the National Military Spouse Network (NMSN) Military Spouse Career Summit, our signature event. It is THE can’t miss event for any military spouse who is serious about their career. Whether you’re interested in entrepreneurship, federal employment, corporate employment or volunteering, we’ve gathered the resources you need to explore the portable career options available. It’s a great forum for military spouse professionals, businesses, academics and media to share expertise and craft innovative solutions on both balancing a viable career with the military lifestyle and laying the foundation for a successful career post-military life.

• Stay in the moment. Check in with work and home, but try to maximize your time with the other attendees, speakers and sessions. Remember, you’re in work and business development mode. Compartmentalize your other responsibilities and try to follow up at the end of every conference day so that once you get home, your work is already done. • When you’re collecting business cards, try to write a little something about the person on the back of the card to make it easier to follow up. • Fill out the critique forms to help organizers improve on the event. If you enjoyed the conference, make sure you share compliments as well as critiques.

After the conference: • Send thank-you notes to organizers and presenters. MAY 2022

Network with other military spouses building their careers and businesses and representatives from military spouse friendly employers, experts in the field and others. If you’ve got the drive, we’ve got the: connections, experts, advice, fantastic food and networking opportunities. Join us for our Annual Military Spouse Career Summit!

Sue Hoppin is the founder and president of the National Military Spouse Network, a consultant on military family issues and the co-author of, “A Family’s Guide to the Military for Dummies”. Before founding the NMSN, Sue served as the first deputy director for spouse outreach for a military affiliated non-profit with a 375,000+ membership. She is a recognized subject matter expert on military spouse and family issues and has spoken to audiences nationwide ranging from installation career events to leadership training sessions and national conferences. Sue holds a bachelor’s degree in international studies from the University of Denver, a master’s degree in international relations from the University of Oklahoma and a post graduate certificate in non-profit management from Georgetown University.


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Make Your Goals BIGGER!! And 5 Steps to Make Accomplishing Them Easy BY KRISTA WELLS


ears ago, I stood in line to meet Cheryl Richardson, a well-known life coach, after her presentation. I teared up thinking about how I wanted to influence military spouses the same way she has influenced me. I practically cried when I explained this big idea to her. At the time, I had no website, just a couple of coaching clients, and no real road map. However, I told Cheryl that coaching was what I wanted to do, and she suggested some first steps. For example, she suggested I find a panel I could speak on before giving a keynote. I told her that a military organization had asked me to be on a panel discussion to talk about military marriage and explained that I was scared. She said, “That’s great! When you are scared and excited, you know you are on the right path.” I realized that once you speak on a panel, you are less scared the second time. But I wasn’t making my follow-up goals just as scary and exciting as my initial goal, and I was seeing this pattern in clients I worked with as well. We were setting goals, accomplishing them and not creating more scary and exciting goals to follow. 28 | NMSN Magazine

As a life coach, I believe in goal setting. I set seasonal goals in the areas of health, wealth and relationships, but I recently realized that we all might be setting goals that are too small. As a result, even when we meet the goal, we are left uninspired. Setting a bigger goal is usually more fun. A bigger goal does not need to be a harder goal; it’s just a goal that better aligns with who you want to become. So, in that way, it’s effortless. For example, I had a goal to blog each month and often didn’t achieve that goal (in hindsight it was a boring goal). So, I switched my goal and started writing a fiction book with a friend. Not only did I achieve my goal, but I found that it was much more enjoyable and effortless to write fiction with a friend than to sit around waiting for inspiration to hit me each month.

“Life is too short for boring goals” - The Military Spouse Coach® What would happen if the next time you sat down to write your seasonal goals, they were a little bit bigger, a little bit less predictable? nationalmilitaryspousenetwork.org

Let’s pretend you have a goal to save $500, lose five pounds or finally reconnect with the five people you’ve been meaning to call. Are accomplishing those things going to change your lifestyle? Your brain is smart (and a bit lazy). It won’t stay focused on accomplishing something that isn’t going to bring a tremendous amount of joy to your life. Look at your health, wealth and relationship goals and post them in a place you see them every day. This could be by your bathroom mirror or perhaps on a whiteboard you change up every season. Look at your goals daily and ask yourself if they still spark joy. Once you are excited about your goals, you need to plan your week and reflect on your week with your new, exciting goal in mind. Get out your calendar and create a new routine that supports your goal. Perhaps Friday mornings become your sacred writing time. Or Sundays become your food prep day. Your lifestyle isn’t going to change if your habits stay the same. Think about your goal, and then step back and ask yourself, what habit MAY 2022

will support you in having more time to devote to your goal? Sometimes, what makes your goal too small is that the bigger goal requires more time and energy to obtain. Be willing to go for the bigger goal even if you know that means you’ll need to be making little tweaks in all the other areas of your life to support new strides. For example, when I wrote my fiction book, I made simpler dinners, stayed off social media and worked out more so I had the energy to do the work I loved.

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What little changes can you make to support bigger goals that keep you motivated?!

“Big goals need time and energy” - The Military Spouse Coach® Are there tools you need to make your goal easier? Are you unsure of certain steps you must take to reach your goal? Sometimes we don’t make our goals big enough because we can’t imagine the “how-to.” However, letting go of


that “how-to” piece is necessary to think bigger. If you look at your goal and then make the goal twice the size, are there steps you can get help with, delegate or learn? Take a step back and ask yourself what you need to be able to think bigger. I recently scheduled a meeting with a book editor who reviewed a rough draft and then offered invaluable insight on how to rewrite it. I believe that this nominal investment from an expert was well worth its weight in gold. Now I have a roadmap of

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those areas support your goal? • Are there non-goal things you can say “no” to, so you have time for your bigger, more exciting goal? • What tools would make achieving your goal easier? Any shortcuts you can think of? Step Five: Who will you become when you accomplish your goals?

my next steps that would have taken me forever to figure out. Regardless of whether your goal is tiny or huge, there are usually shortcuts that keep the goalsetting fun.

Staying Inspired The problem with inspiration is that it is so darn short-lived. Have you started a diet all jazzed and then real life kicked in? Use inspiration to set up structures that will keep you going when the going gets boring. For example, sign up for a fitness class that is held each week. Or devote Sundays to meal planning versus hoping you’ll be inspired mid-week. Work with human nature, not against it. Step One: Get your goal out of your head – Write it down! • Write your target down. It could be written in a journal, on a whiteboard or a sticky note on your steering wheel. • Create “due dates” to keep you motivated once the initial inspiration fades. Consider breaking down your goals into long-term or short-term/ seasonal goals and weekly 30 | NMSN Magazine

or daily activities that stretch you a bit each day. Step Two: Tweak the goal until it’s bigger, scarier and more exciting! • Make the goals you have already written more expansive, challenging and motivating! • As yourself: How will your lifestyle change as a result of working on this goal? Step Three: Create a structure that supports your goals. • What structures can you put into place to keep you motivated after the initial excitement dies down? · Plan out your week with your exciting goal in mind. · Give your best hour to your goal. It can’t be an afterthought! · Reflect on your week to see if you are giving your goal enough love. Step Four: Make the goal easier. • Look at the areas of your life outside your goal. How can nationalmilitaryspousenetwork.org

• What are your top values? Is there a way to align your new BIG goals with your values? • Describe your ideal outcome from accomplishing your goal. Who will you be once you have obtained the goal? I hope I have inspired you to look over your goals; take a step back and ask yourself if they are exciting enough to stay in the forefront of your mind, change your lifestyle, and make you excited to get up in the mornings. Those are the goals that are going to move you from who you are to who you deserve to become!

Krista Wells, Ph.D., The Military Spouse Coach®, is a certified life coach that loves working with motivated military spouses. She writes and speaks to military spouse groups, teaching them how to set goals and make their side hustles happen! She recently co-authored a fiction book titled An Imperfect Plan, under the pen name Addison McKnight, that was released on May 10, 2022. MAY 2022

2022 NMSN Recommendations for Military Spouse Employment Reform Recommendation 1 To ensure that resources and programming serve the military spouse community, the DOD should measure for greater impact by establishing a standard set of metrics to evaluate programs and their impact across organizations – federal, state and local. Measuring the utilization and effectiveness of new and existing programs as well as the hiring authorities supporting military spouse employment should occur consistently at all phases and made publicly available in an easily accessible format.

Recommendation 2 To better understand the immediate and long-term financial impacts of unemployment and underemployment among military spouses, Congress should study the inability of military spouses to benefit from financial vesting programs. This assessment should include private employer match vs. occupational profession match, including how different state regulations impact occupational professions. Other considerations should include vesting timeline requirements and the lost opportunity to accumulate retirement savings at the same rate of civilian peers unaffiliated with the military.

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Recommendation 3 Expand utilization of the DETO Program (Domestic Employees Teleworking Overseas). With OPM's recent changes to federal hiring of military spouses, expansion of the DETO program could ensure that military spouses who secure employment with a federal department or agency are able to maintain their employment during assignments overseas.

Recommendation 4 Create a Military Spouse SBA Small-Business Concern classification. Many military spouses choose self-employment as a means of long-term employment security and job portability. Though not codified in law, the Small Business Administration (SBA) has taken steps to expand counseling, training, and access to capital opportunities for military spouse entrepreneurs through their Office of Veterans Business Designating military spouse-owned businesses as a small business concern could help provide spouses with the targeted support they need to move their small business operations with them as they move domestically or abroad.

Recommendation 5 Understanding the perspective of the military spouse experience through the military lifecycle can help inform how policymaking is structured to ensure benefits are available when and where intended. Congress should consider authorizing the development of a military spouse experience map through the lens of employment, and what employment benefits/resources are accessible to a military spouse through each phase of the military lifecycle. This tool could be a great benefit to spouses as they navigate their own transition to life postmilitary.



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MAY 2022


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