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Recently an article posted in the news, “12 great jobs for military spouses,” by Melba Newsome at JD News has made military spouses around the country hotter than the heat wave sweeping across the US. Ms. Newsome is a highly respected journalist and writer; however this list hit a nerve. As a writer, I love when someone produces an article evoking passion from the people reading it, however I don’t think this was the type of passion Ms. Newsome was hoping for. I realize she had good intentions; however many women feel like the list of “12 great jobs for military spouses” reads more like a traditional 1950’s handbook for military spouses. While #1 on the list, direct selling and #2 child care are admirable jobs, the list was in stark contradiction to Ms. Newsome citing, ”the military spouse population has more education and training than the general public. 84 percent have some college, 25 percent have a bachelor’s degree and 10 percent have advanced degrees.” With all the higher education stats that Ms. Newsome reports why would she put “#5 errand runner or go-fer for others” or “#7 dog walker” on the list? Like most military spouses who read this article, I was happy until I read the list. Monique Rizer, military spouse, makes an excellent point, “There are many and varied levels of skills and credentials in our community. Which is exactly what the writer ignored, the list lacked diversity- and completely ignored all the spouses who do have more diverse ambitions in business, law, science, healthcare etc. This is a reflection of the national conversation about women in the workforce. We earn 60 percent of college degrees but we don’t have near that parity in leadership in business, nonprofit OR government. Why??”

Before my inbox explodes, I think the jobs listed are very rewarding and can provide real opportunities for people, not just military spouses. However, after Ms. Newsome shined such a positive light on how hard military spouses are working on their education to fulfill a career, the list was disappointing. Carolyn Duft Levering, military spouse and owner of Patriotic AdVANtures commented, “This is just insulting. First of all, like we all haven’t “been there – done that” already. They really came up with NEW and CREATIVE IDEAS! NOT! And I just LOVE the line in #6 Catering and/or cake making… “Those hours spent watching the Food Network might be… the genesis of a money-making plan.” Hmmm…yeah, that’s what I did while my DH (Dear husband) was out at sea, watch the freaking FOOD network. In fact, since I didn’t have a decent paying job, I wasn’t paying for cable, so there ya’ go. Love the #13 “Consistent Temp Work” too. Yeah! That’s what I would want to do for 20 years.”

The sarcasm and frustration is all too common among military spouses when it comes to our careers. Having moved many times myself and trying to find jobs in each new state as a Speech-Language Pathologist, I must admit, dog walking sounds tempting. No resume, no paperwork and a client who doesn’t argue. However, while I am extremely proud of my husband and his career in the Navy, I am also proud of earning my Master’s degree and actually using it. Ironically, it is my background in communication and 13 years of being a Navy spouse that prompted me to start MilitaryOneClick. My goal is to connect the military community and the companies supporting the military on a global level with the incredible opportunities that are available. Since launching MilitaryOneClick just over a year ago, I have met some of the most amazing military spouses and their passion is unwavering. Together we are working hard to improve access to jobs that equal our education and experience level. Sarah Stockwell, a military spouse for over 7 years and stationed in Colorado Springs said, “I think they’re (referring to the list of jobs) an insult. I have an engineering doctorate. I have friends who are milspouses who have multiple degrees too and we’re all frustrated. Why doesn’t the DoD hire us for civilian jobs and save a fortune in health benefits while they’re at it?”

Over the past year the Military Spouse Employment Program has been working with military spouses and corporations to assist each other in finding the best fit for all military spouses. Furthermore, The First Lady and Dr. Biden have made it their top mission to work with military spouses on career issues through their Joining Forces program. They are connecting Fortune 500 companies with the military community to hire and also retain military spouses even after we PCS (civilian translation = move). The First Lady and Dr. Biden are also combating the licensure issues that many military spouses face when moving across state lines. Licensure concerns have an effect on the majority of careers military spouses have degrees in such as; teaching, nursing, dental care, attorney and physical therapists. We recently spoke with The White House Joining Forces program and they are thrilled to announce that 23 states have now passed pro-military spouse license portability measures. Cheri Kilmurray, a military spouse and college instructor comments, “They (“12 great jobs for military spouses”) clearly don’t get it. The idea is to encourage companies to recognize and capitalize on the skills of trained and educated individuals that have to endure the professional challenges of constant relocation. Any responsible teenager can provide pet sitting services.”

The reason I felt compelled to write this article is to share with the civilian world that while we are proud military spouses, we also have a passion for our own careers. I understand what Ms. Newsome was trying to accomplish, however we need successful women like her to help us reach higher and go bigger. Lori Clinton, military spouse and CEO of Your Yeoman is a perfect example of reaching higher and going bigger. She stated,”personally I do not find it insulting, and my business covers several of those items listed. The key to what the article says is “12 ways military spouses can turn their education and/or skills into a money-making venture regardless of location”. Then it goes to list several low cost ways that you can do this. I have over 20 years experience in management, accounting and HR with an education and have managed and supervised many people. However when we moved to Hampton Roads I was not able to find a job that could even come close to making the money I had made in other places. I did exactly what that quote says and have not looked back. Not to mention that I now have 6 employees (all military spouses) who are more then happy to be doing the work because it is flexible, pays well and you can take it where you move. Yes to some, these jobs may sound insulting, but to others who have worked hard and continue to work and enjoy those jobs know that they are just as good as any other job. Your education, skill level and job title do no matter, it is what you get out of the job, how it fits your life style and the feeling of enjoying what you do at the end of the day.”

Cristin Orr Shiffer, a military family policy researcher and project coordinator for the Blue Star Families resume tool kit cites another interesting point, “There is another problem besides the fact that most of the “great careers” identified by the article are really mediocre jobs. Every job featured, with the exception of the one in Information Technology, is historically performed by women. Military spouses wishing to pursue careers, and military spouse employment advocates, must also work to dispel the traditional and gendered lens through which most of American society still views individuals married to military members.” Ms. Newsome’s article did bring the conversation of military spouses and their careers alive and for that I am grateful.

I would like to take this opportunity to share my own “Top 12 Most Supportive Organizations for Military Spouses.” These organizations, companies and people have encouraged me both personally and professionally to “reach higher, go bigger”, while launching MilitaryOneClick.

MilitaryOneClick’s Top 12 Most Supportive Organizations for Military Spouses (these organizations are listed in random order because they are all #1 in my book!)

1. Inc. Magazine & the Military Entrepreneurial Program http://www.inc.com/

2. SCORE: http://www.score.org/

3. iRelaunch: https://www.irelaunch.com/

4. MomCentral: http://www.momcentral.com/

5. The Joining Forces Program: http://www.whitehouse.gov/joiningforces

6. Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers/Congressional Military Family Caucus: http://mcmorris.house.gov/#dialog

7. The Military Spouse Employment Program: https://msepjobs.militaryonesource.mil/

8. Military Traveler, LLC: http://miltraveler.com/

9. AnyBill: http://www.anybill.com/

10. Nelson Mullins: http://www.nelsonmullins.com/

11. Hugh Hewitt: http://www.hughhewitt.com/blog

12. Dr. William Bennett and Team: http://www.billbennett.com/

While our spouses proudly serve our nation, we need to continue to battle for our careers. We still have a long road in front of us dealing with licensure issues, portability and costs; however I am constantly in awe of the military spouses I meet in person and virtually through militaryoneclick. There is the perfect job out there for all military spouses regardless of education and experience, we just need to work together to make all of those opportunities available. Together, we are paving the way for future military spouses and we welcome all forward thinkers on board! Jennifer Griffin Pilcher, Proud Military Spouse and CEO MilitaryOneClick

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