This year marks the 31st year Americans will celebrate Military Spouse Appreciation Day. The day was created back in 1984 by then president, Ronald Regan, who wanted to do something to honour the country’s “unsung heroes,” military spouses.
The day is observed the Friday before Mother’s Day and since its inception, every president since President Regan has supported the day. Times have changed since 1984 with many military spouses pursuing their own careers while supporting their service member. A challenge that has organizations partnering together to educate the American business community on the benefits of employing military spouses and working to break down the barriers military spouses face when it comes to their careers.
“We know if we take care of our military families we will retain our serving members,” explains Meg O’Grady, Vice President, Veteran Business Strategy and Engagement at First Data Corporation. O’Grady’s former position was with the United States Department of Defense program manager for spouse education and career opportunities where she ran the Military Spouse Employment Partnership (MSEP).
Having spent 18 years as a military spouse and with 17 moves in 13 years and 17 jobs in 22 years O’Grady has lived the military lifestyle.
“Military families move 10 more times than their civilian counterparts,” notes O’Grady, adding, “It becomes more difficult for military spouses to find jobs and to keep them.”
According to O’Grady, American military spouses tend to gravitate toward jobs in the education, health and childcare sectors. The downside is teachers, nurses and childcare workers require licensing which leaves military spouses facing licensing issues when their service members are transferred from one state to another.
O’Grady explains if military spouses are employed in a job they find satisfying the whole family has a cushion when the military member makes the transition out of the military to a civilian career. Plus, “if a military spouse has a career that allows him or her to move throughout the service member’s career, they’re more likely to support retaining the military career.”
She adds, the challenges military spouses encounter often creates a resilient, flexible, adaptable and agile employee “because they are part of the military community they are also very loyal.”
She notes a great fit for military spouses are virtual positions. They are often portable jobs spouses can take with them when their service members are relocated.
Today Americans will celebrate Military Spouse Appreciation Day with a variety of celebrations and activities taking place across their country to say thank you to their military spouses.
“Our service members are able to do their job because of our military spouses,” explains O’Grady, adding, “the whole family serves.”
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