By Maranda FlynnJune 5, 2014
Being an Army spouse is more than just a way of life. As one of the toughest jobs in the military, some may consider it a full-time job, but for others the job extends outside of their home.
However, recent statistics show that military spouses face a 26 percent unemployment rate and military wives face a 25 percent wage gap compared to their Civilian counterparts.
For spouses who seek to pursue or further their education or strive to begin their career, the Department of Defense in partnership with the Military Spouse Employment Partnership, or MSEP, and the Spouse Ambassador Network, has established a comprehensive, holistic, spouse-centered program called SECO: Spouse Education and Career Opportunities.
"Programs that were non-existent even 10 years ago are now connecting spouses with programs, such as MSEP, which links them to over 180 partner employers," said Kathy Thomson, the Employment Readiness coordinator, Fort Huachuca Army Community Service. "This wealth of resources creates a wealth of opportunities."
SECO provides career exploration opportunities to help spouses worldwide understand their skills, interests and goals; education and training to help them identify academic, licensing or credentialing requirements that can help them reach their career goals; employment readiness assistance to optimize their self-marketing skills; and employment connections that help them find and maintain a rewarding career.
"The program works with www.militaryonesource.mil to assist any eligible military spouse worldwide with certified career counselors offering services in identifying education, training and licensing, certification opportunities, as well as financial aid resources, scholarships and internships," Thomson said.
Counselors will assist spouses in developing an individualized career plan, discuss goals and objectives, and will provide the resources and information available for each phase of the SECO lifecycle.
The spouse's work-related experiences, education and job preferences will be evaluated and as a result, a clear career path will be determined.
Throughout the month of May, MSEP featured extraordinary military spouses who not only take care of their Families, but work a full-time job as well. Each day the nominated spouses were spotlighted on MSEP's Facebook and Pinterest webpages.
Bethel Francis, a 26-year Army spouse and the Fort Huachuca Financial Readiness Program manager at ACS, was chosen as the Spouse of the Day on May 28.
"I enjoy working with Families and providing support and information as needed," Francis said. "I am a lifelong learner and love having the opportunity to learn from others as we work together to better our community. I feel blessed to be part of such a large Army Family."
Helping Soldiers and their Families, and making a difference in their lives, is what Francis says she enjoys most about her career.
"I jumped in with both feet, made friends, and had fun doing my part," she said. "I continue to be a team player and help out in any needed area. 'Other duties as assigned' provided us many opportunities to get involved outside out box.
"Never stop learning. Everyone has something to teach you and you have something that will benefit others. Don't be afraid to do your part," she added.
SECO services are provided at no cost to spouses. For more information about SECO and MSEP, visit www.militaryonesource.mil, call 520.538.5768 or 520.533.2330, or visit the Fort Huachuca ACS office, Building 50010.