This post is sponsored by T-Mobile
It is no secret that military spouses often have to forego their once long-standing dreams of building a beautiful budding career to follow their service member from place to place every few years. Most of us put our personal goals and dreams on the back burner because it is too hard or expensive to get a new license, it takes too long to find a new job, and because many companies don’t want to hire someone they know will leave in a few years. But with the changing landscape of employment, many military spouses have been able to find jobs that work for them- either with remote work or with companies that understand and support the unique lifestyle of military families.
The Push for Military Spouse Employment
Lawmakers, government officials, and military leaders have recently started to recognize the need for better practices for military spouses to pursue careers. Traditionally military spouses were known to be stay-at-home wives and mothers in order to help create a stable environment for their families and because, well, it was a societal expectation for many women not to work after having children. Old World War I and II movies show women waving their handkerchiefs at the train pulling away with their loved ones, and they went back home to wait for letters from the postman.
But as the world around us changed and evolved into a new era with working women and working mothers, the path of the military spouse largely stayed the same. Even now, it is more common to find a military spouse who is a stay-at-home mom versus a working mom. And it’s not because we don’t want to work. It’s because we haven’t been afforded the opportunities to find and establish a new career every one to three years, or given the resources to create work for ourselves.
But the new and growing landscape of remote career opportunities has begun to spill over into the military spouse world. On top of that, military spouses are taking matters into their own hands, fighting for us to get lowered or waived license fees, better reciprocity laws for licenses we do carry, and companies beginning to recognize the need for military spouses to follow career paths of their own.
Leadership is Starting to Recognize the Need for Military Spouse Employment
Military leaders are finally starting to see the importance of the old adage of “happy wife, happy life,” too. They see their few good men and women leaving the military because life at home is not as happy as it could be. They are beginning to see that part of the problem is that military spouses sacrifice everything so our service members can serve the country, and eventually that begins to take a toll on the family dynamics. Our feelings of resentment towards the military taking away every.single.part of our personal identification (including, but not limited to our spouse, our homes, our careers, and then giving us the title of “dependent”) also start to take a toll on our service members, making them realize that 20+ years of an unhappy family might not be worth it.
With this in mind, government and military leaders have started to push for better laws and programs to help military spouses find, establish, and create careers that work with the military lifestyle. Grants like MyCAA and other scholarships aimed at military spouse education have helped thousands further their education. But that hasn’t been enough. Education is wonderful, but what good is an education if you can’t get a job because of the nomadic lifestyle of the military? Or because the cost of additional courses, testing, and licensing fees is too extreme to shell out every three years? Or the wait to get your new license is so long that it doesn’t make sense to pay hundreds of dollars and waste tens of hours when no one will hire you because you only have 18 months left at that duty station?
RELATED: THE MILITARY SPOUSE TEACHER
Luckily for us, military spouses have started to take matters into their own hands. Together with Second Lady Pence, military spouses like Lakesha Cole have worked with Congress to enact the Portable Certification of Spouses Act. This bill is designed to create universal licensing standards so military spouses with occupational licenses are able to transfer from state-to-state with less of a headache. Some states have taken heed, like Arizona who recently allowed for license reciprocity for military spouses and civilians.
Other military spouses like Libby Jamison and her organization the Military Spouse JD Network have been able to work with over 30 states to lower or waive fees for military spouse lawyers when moving across state lines because of PCS orders.
Even the National Defense Agency has taken note. In 2018, they passed a bill that allows for all branches of the military to reimburse service members for occupational license fees, registration, and testing that is required by their spouses due to a PCS or PCA. The Army and the Air Force have already enforced this bill, and retroactively applied it to any spouses who had to get new occupational licenses after December 12, 2017.
Remote Work for Military Spouses
However, the past 10 years has seen a dramatic shift in how employees work. Many companies and organizations now offer remote work opportunities, which opens the door for many military spouses to pursue careers in their field all while working from home and, subsequently, taking those careers with them every time they move.
More and more military spouses have begun to look for remote work, especially if they are focused on a career that does not require an occupational licenses. Spouses flood Facebook pages asking for advice on looking for jobs that allow them to work from home. There are several companies, both military-based and civilian-based that offer remote positions or help military spouses find remote positions such as:
In addition, there are military spouses out there who have been able to create full-fledged careers by creating their own businesses and transferring their businesses with them wherever they go. Many creatives start a company to sell their work like funny t-shirts or active wear. Some bake fancy cakes and cookies out of their homes. Others have brick-and-mortar cafes and shops that they manage from afar. Many become virtual assistants, helping with social media content creation, writing articles, or marketing. They take their expertise and knowledge of public relations, accounting, food, or teaching and take matters into their own hands, starting businesses that work for them instead of working for others.
Companies Who Support Military Spouses
Recently military families have started to see large companies take notice of the need for careers for military spouses. They have read the articles and the research about how military spouses have skills and the drive to perform unlike any other group of employees. Companies like T-Mobile are beginning to recognize this niche group of valuable employees, and are working to provide careers that support them and their military lifestyle.
T-Mobile recognizes that military spouses can provide a unique perspective to any job, and that is why they have committed to hiring 10,000 military spouses and veterans by 2023. They also recognize the unique lifestyle of military, so that is why they have a formal process for military spouses who work in their retail stores to relocate to a new store within 50 miles of their new duty station with ease.
Companies like T-Mobile are also committed to helping military spouses and veterans make the transition to a new career outside the military even easier – whether that is at their company, or elsewhere. T-Mobile has an ongoing relationship with FourBlock, an organization committed to helping military spouses and veterans with professional development, career exploration, and networking. Not only does the company host in-person classes, but they have recently funded an online course so that anyone can benefit from FourBlock trainings. In addition, T-Mobile’s Veterans and Allies Network is a community of veterans, military spouses, and T-Mobile employees that work together to help make career changes and transitions possible for military spouses and veterans, as well as how to make T-Mobile a better company for military families.
Through hiring commitments, career programs, employee networks and the T-Mobile ONE for Military rate plan, the self-proclaimed “Un-carrier” is committed to supporting military and their families every single day.
If military spouses are good at anything, it is advocating for one another. We understand the difficulties our fellow spouses face because we face them, too. We know what it is like to give up our careers for our service members careers. We have done the mental math of how much a new license costs and if it’s worth spending the time, energy, and money to do it. That is why military spouses have continued to work with lawmakers, military leaders, and companies like T-Mobile to create careers that we can take with us wherever we go.
Working helps us feel like we have an identity and allows us to contribute to our family. Plain and simple, it feels good to be able to be compensated for something we are doing. The government wants to keep our service members, and they know that they need us to do it – you know, happy wife, happy life and all.