Installation to open Spouses Employment Lounge in April
From left to right, Catherine Richard, Casey Thompson, Jesse French, Walter Harris and Alfredia Williams plan and discuss details of the upcoming Spouses Employment Lounge opening. Richard, Harris and Williams work within the Transition Assistance Program; Thompson works with the United Services Organization; and French is the director of Human Resources at U.S. Army Garrison Fort Leonard Wood. (Photo Credit: Courtesy photo) VIEW ORIGINAL

FORT LEONARD WOOD, Mo. — The Fort Leonard Wood Transition Assistance Program and United Services Organization’s Pathfinder program — which provides professional development resources — are collaborating to open an office dedicated to helping military spouses find jobs.

Named the “Spouses Employment Lounge,” the new space will offer career consultation, resume building and networking opportunities, according to Casey Thompson, USO Transitions team member for the Fort Leonard Wood area.

“We will help them through really any resources that they need,” she said. “This is going to be a place for spouses to feel welcome and comfortable. They’ll be able to come in and use computers to apply for jobs.”

Thompson, who formerly worked as a recruiter, will head the new office, offering services to all spouses on a no-referral-needed, walk-in basis.

She said getting connected to local resources for job hunting can be challenging for military spouses who uproot and travel with their service member.

“That’s just something that can be hard to navigate, especially when you’re new to an installation,” Thompson said. “Really, it’s going to be a one-stop resource shop to get the spouses whatever they need.”

Crystal Bryant-Kearns, who leads the USO Pathfinder program at Fort Riley, Kan., said this initiative came from a desire to work with TAP in alleviating burdens from military spouses.

“It is important to understand that 650,000 military spouses are constantly transitioning to new communities,” she said. “They often have to start over — they start over building social networks, professional networks in their new homes. Like service members, they face lots of stress, but particularly employment stress.”

Bryant-Kearns added the lounge is closely related to USOs own program for transitioning, which aims to eliminate the stress in five ways.

“We want to focus on employment, education, financial wellness — which is huge — mentoring and access to relevant resources within their community,” she said.

Walter Harris, the transition services manager at TAP, said the lounge is meant to assist spouses both while their service member is arriving to Fort Leonard Wood and when they depart.

“For the spouses to register with the program, all they will need is an ID card,” Harris said.

The Spouses Employment Lounge is tentatively scheduled for a mid-April opening. The office will be located at Bldg. 470, in rooms 2226 and 2226A. Business hours are expected to be 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.

In addition to the lounge, Thompson will be holding a series of professional development workshops for military spouses. For more information ahead of the opening, email Thompson at cthompson@uso.org.