New Initiative to Boost Army Spouse Employment Program
Military spouses watch as Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates, Gwen Bates, middle, a military spouse representative, and Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao sign a proclamation in the Pentagon Nov. 14 that will establish funding for education and trainin... (Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL

WASHINGTON (Army News Service, Nov. 15, 2007) - The Departments of Defense and Labor announced a joint program Wednesday to provide military spouses with resources to help find jobs, receive training and launch careers.

A two-year pilot program that begins in January will provide $35 million in resources at 18 installations in eight states. Five of the posts that will participate in test of the "Military Spouse Career Advancement Initiative" are Army installations:

Fort Carson, Colo

Fort Benning, Ga

Fort Bragg, N.C.

Fort Lewis, Wash.

Schofield Barracks, Hawaii

"Today we embark on a landmark program that will open the doors to our military spouses for more fulfilling careers, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates said as he announced the initiative at the Pentagon. He and Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao signed a proclamation to support the initiative.

"We understand how hard it is for families of military men and women who have to be ready to move anywhere in the world every couple of years," he said, adding that packing and relocating is often at the expense of spouses' careers.

Secretary Gates said moving makes it difficult for military spouses to "navigate the career licensure and certification requirements that go with most professions." He said the new program will help spouses obtain credentials for "high-growth, portable occupations" such as education, health care, information technology and financial services.

Eligible spouses will get reimbursed for expenses directly related to post-secondary education and training under the new program. These include costs for tuition, fees, books, equipment, and credentialing and licensing fees in a number of professions. The program also covers the cost of renewing existing credentials and licenses due to a military move.

Spouses of active-duty servicemembers grades E1 through E5 and O1 to O3 will be eligible to participate. They must have a high school or general education diploma.

Army Education Centers at the five installations testing the program will have more information about the initiative said Patricia Wells, the Army's Employment Readiness Program Manager at the Pentagon. She said Employment Readiness Managers at the five installations have also received training in the initiative and will be ready to help spouses apply for the program.

Ms. Wells said the Army has been helping military spouses with employment resources for more than 20 years. The Army's Employment Readiness Program, or ERP, provides job search assistance, job skills training and information and referral services for Soldiers, Family members and eligible military ID card holders.

It provides assistance with resume and resumix writing, interviewing techniques, dressing for success tips and networking. Job skills training includes basic computer training, an overview of the federal employment process, and a class in entrepreneurship.

The ERP managers work with installation Civilian Personnel Offices, community agencies, contractors, and local Army Spouse Employment Partnership, or ASEP representatives.

Under ASEP, the Army has a partnership with Fortune 500 companies and federal agencies who pledged their support to increase employment and career opportunities for Army spouses. At present there are 31 Fortune 500 companies and five partners from federal and military agencies participating in the program.

Between September 2006 and September 2007, more than 7,200 military spouses were hired by ASEP partners, bringing the current total number to more than 23,000 spouses hired through the partnership.

The Military Spouse Job Search Web site, was launched in July 2005 as a portal for military spouse resumes and a place for ASEP partners and registered military spouse-friendly employers to post their job vacancies.

The new DOD and Department of Labor initiative, however, adds funding for education and training that had not been available before under the Army programs, Ms. Wells explained.

For more information on the new initiative, see related AFPS article <a href="'id=48141" >New Initiative Offers Education, Training Funds for Military Spouses</a>