FORT CAMPBELL, Ky. – Carmen Williams, a human resources specialist for the Civilian Personnel Advisory Center, is a military spouse and knows firsthand how a permanent change of station can affect them, as well as their Families, economically.
Having been through this situation personally, Williams uses her experience to help other military spouses navigate the process of uprooting their careers to move to another duty station, and fortunately now, she said, the process of using spousal preference is easier and more streamlined than ever.
Spouse preference program
The Department of Defense military spouse preference program is designed for military spouses who are married to a military sponsor who has been given orders to PCS and who would suffer economic hardship because they have to move with their sponsor. The program gives military spouses preference over other candidates when applying for federal jobs.
“It is a DOD program that allows military spouses to receive preference during the applicant referral process. If found best qualified, they can be referred over other applicants,” Williams said.
How does it work?
Using the program is simple and spouses should start the process 30 days prior to the report date on their military orders whether or not they’re arriving early, Williams said.
First, spouses should visit https://www.usajobs.gov/, then follow the prompts in the listing they are interested in to establish spousal preference.
“Just like every other application, they would have to upload their resume and anything that would make them eligible for the program,” Williams said. “They would have to have their service member’s PCS orders, the marriage certificate that showed that they were married to the sponsor prior to their PCS, and there is now a new military spouse self-certification checklist that is actually linked to the eligibility in USA staffing.”
All spouses have to do to complete the process is click on that document when they’re applying, fill it out and upload it with their application.
Williams said the process of using spousal preference now is much simpler and easier than what it used to be.
“As of April 1, 2019 military spouses can now request their military spouse preference through a direct application based process which allows them to independently choose which positions they think they’re best qualified for without having to wait for the Human Resources Office to notify them to apply or waiting to have to enroll into the program,” Williams said.
Williams said the way the military spouse preference program functions now is more convenient to spouses because it gives them the freedom to choose what jobs and listings they would like to apply for rather than waiting on the human resources office to give them the green light to go ahead and do so. The easing of restrictions is an aspect that Williams said she wholeheartedly embraces.
“Previously they were restricted and now they are not,” Williams said. “We also had what’s called the automated stopper system where, once they registered, they would have to match for a position and then we would have to contact them and tell them to apply to the position before they could actually exercise their preference. Now they don’t have to match for any position and they can apply as they see fit.”
Williams encourages spouses to make good use of the new program, but added spouses should keep in mind that once they accept a full-time position or if they reject an offer for a permanent position at an installation while using this program that their spousal preference becomes inactive until they move to another installation.
Williams said she hopes military spouses will consider using the program and that she wants to spread awareness to spouses that might not know that this program exists.
Williams used the program when she moved from Fort Rucker to Fort Campbell and that it was helpful.
“It did give me a lot of hope when it came to moving from one spot to the other in that, although I was losing my job at Fort Rucker, I knew there was a program that would give me an edge above others when I was basically out of work and trying to find a new position,” she said.
For more information, call 270-681-0054 or 615-549-7759; or visit https://home.army.mil/campbell/index.php/about/Garrison/civilian-personnel-advisory-center.