It’s no secret military spouse employment has been an issue for a long time. But there are many players and programs that are working hard to fix that. But what these programs don't seem to understand is that in reality, many military bases are in small towns away from metropolitan cities. When I last looked at the many websites, no company that is listed as a spouse employer is located within a hundred miles of my husband’s Coast Guard base.
The intentions of these companies are good, but the truth is that we need someone local who knows the area and is connected to employers who are actually hiring. And I do not mean just hiring for any job a high school student could get. I did not spend four years at the University of Colorado at Boulder studying psychology and linguistics so that I could flip burgers at the local diner.
The frustration comes when you find a potential job. My resume is a dead giveaway that I am a military spouse. The employers wonder how I ended up in this small town of Elizabeth City, North Carolina, 3,000 miles away from my last job in San Francisco, California. The only reason any of us are put here, of course, is the military.
Employers aren't stupid. Without even having to ask the illegal questions of marital status, age, and military affiliation, the potential employer writes me off because they know we can get PCS orders to a new station at any time. Am I destined to have a life of unemployment for something that is completely up to the Coast Guard?
After many failed attempts in my job search in my minimal experience as a military wife, I have chosen to take charge of my destiny in the only way that is under my control at the moment that will keep me on my career path. I am getting another degree!
Yet, there is another dilemma in this all its own. Since I have lived in three states in the past year alone, how do I go to school? I decided to go online at the University of California at Berkeley Extension. It’s the only way I don’t have to constantly transfer classes, along with transferring my home.
The family unit of a military member makes all the difference to the one who is serving our country. We support them when they are here and we comfort them when they are deployed. We pay the bills and keep life running while they serve our country. We are the last thing they think about when they go to sleep at night when they are hundreds or thousands of miles away. We remind them of what they are fighting for.
If I can help my husband in his effort to help America, I think I am doing my job. If this is what I’m meant to do to right now, then I will excel at my job by supporting him until he meets his goals. After all, I can only benefit from this experience and strive to make the check mark in the box of being the “easily adaptable” job candidate. The answer to their question on my employment history: Being a military spouse is my most recent job experience!
Kate Garrison is a Coast Guard Wife living in Elizabeth City, North Carolina. Kate's dream job is to be in marketing for Scholastic Children's Book Publishing and Distribution, or to be a dolphin trainer.
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