Q. I am the spouse of a Service member who recently had to leave a job to move to a new city. Building a career is very hard when you have to move often and many employers don’t want to hire me when they see how often I have changed jobs. Our family depends on my income. Are there programs or benefits which I can use to help me with a job search?

A. Yes there are. The Military Spouse Employment Partnership is a program which provides a digital platform for employers to have direct access to military spouses seeking jobs. Some 400,000 jobs have been posted with the partnership since it was created in June of 2011, and 22,000 military spouses have been hired. There are over 100 companies participating in the partnership and the number continues to grow.

In December 2012, the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a report, which questioned the effectiveness of the Military Spouse Employment Partnership, however. Despite having spent $54.8 million on the tuition assistance program and $1.2 million on the employment partnership program in fiscal 2011, the Department of Defense is unable to quantify the effectiveness of the programs it has created for military spouses.

According to the report, currently there are approximately 725,000 military spouses (90% women), with a 26% unemployment rate. There is a 25% wage gap between military spouses and civilian counterparts. Just as federal agencies offer veteran’s preference for many positions, they can also use non-competitive authority to hire qualified military spouses.

While more and more employers are realizing that military spouses and families need to be recognized for their contributions and sacrifices and their vital role in support of their service member spouses, according to the report, current programs may contain gaps and performance issues.

The GAO report provided guidance on many deficiencies that still exist in the DoD military spouse assistance program. The report specifically stated that services were often difficult to navigate due to inconsistencies in guidance, gaps in coordination, and unreliable performances measure.

In response to the GAO findings, DoD acknowledged that there were duplicative services and partially agreed with the report, noting that they would be providing clearer performance measures, clearer guidance, and working to fill existing gaps in coordination of services.

Like many programs aimed to help veterans and service members, the Military Spouse Employment Partnership is a well-intentioned effort, but isn’t a silver bullet to produce military spouse hiring success. Job seekers should continue to build their professional networks as well as developing marketable skills, as they take advantage of government-sponsored programs.

Diana M. Rodriguez is a native Washingtonian who currently works as a professional writer, blogger, social media expert, commentator, editor and public affairs practitioner. Diana previously worked as an editor and senior communications analyst for the Department of Defense.

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Diana M. Rodriguez is a native Washingtonian who works as a professional freelance writer, commentator, and blogger; as well as a public affairs, website content and social media manager for the Department of Defense.