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How the Federal Hiring Freeze Hurts Military Spouses

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In his first few days in office President Donald Trump has signed many Executive Orders, including one putting in place a federal hiring freeze. The only exceptions to this freeze are military, essential security or public safety hires and special appointed positions. Here is the actual Executive Order if you wish to read it.

Like most of any president’s actions, this federal hiring freeze will surely have second and third order effects. 

The first level impact of a federal hiring freeze is obviously the current workforce. They will be forced to do exponentially more with less.

The second ramification will hurt a group I count myself among: young veterans. Paul Rieckhoff the founder and CEO of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, has been inundated with complaints by Veterans in the last 24 hours Several articles have noted this impact.

But the third level of effect for Trump's federal hiring freeze hurts another group I count myself among: military spouses.

It is the impact to this group that truly saddens me.

When I read the hiring freeze news, I immediately thought of the many military spouses, including myself, who are employed in federal jobs -- not because we do not want private sector jobs, but because we accompany our spouses to U.S. or overseas military bases and embassies. On these bases and posts federal jobs are often the only jobs available to us. I can say with confidence that most of my military spouse friends who work full time do so in federal jobs.

I do, too.

While I count myself among those who do not support Trump, in the beginning I also was not a fan of former President Obama. Over time I grew to love and respect him and his family. I was most impressed that President Obama started out not knowing much about our military lives, but over time he worked hard to understand and respect the lives of those he commanded. In fact, his spouse, Michelle Obama, did more for military families than any other first lady or president, for that matter. She worked tirelessly with Vice President Joseph Biden's spouse, Jill Biden, to provide opportunities for military spouses. One hallmark accomplishment of these two women was legislation in every state making it easier for military spouses to move some professional licenses state to state.

To go from the support we felt from President Obama to this new reality where military spouses once again matter very little feels like a kick in the gut. It is literally another burden we must bear.

Every few years we move from state to state or country to country and struggle once again to hobble together our professional lives, often in vain. The most successful of us might manage to get a civilian job or hold onto a career that we really like for a few years. Many of will just get by in federal jobs for which we are grossly overqualified while trying to convince ourselves and our families that we are still professionally viable.

Is this not enough to bear, along with all of the other sacrifices that a nearly twenty-year war has delivered to us? Must we now be locked out from working in one of the few job fields that are available to us? Really?

Our spouses, the men and women Trump claims to adore, are obliged to serve their Commander in Chief, and we, the spouses, follow them physically and spiritually in that pursuit.

I am one of the lucky ones. I already have a job that I like well enough. But what about the hundreds of military spouses that serve with me? They are out of luck, and may spend their remaining tours isolated and professionally stunted -- defeated again.

I know a lot of military members voted for Trump. I don’t agree with it, but I accept it. But I ask you to consider the long-felt effects this hiring freeze will have. 

If you or any of your fellow military spouses will be hurt either financially or morally by this short sighted Executive Order call your local representatives and tell them. There is a reason our President should rely on experts when signing laws concerning subjects about which he understands little.

 

Shelly Burgoyne-Goode was commissioned as an Army Officer in December 2002 from the University of Arizona. Shelly deployed to Iraq in November of 2003 and again in 2004 as a Platoon Leader; she led numerous combat re-supply convoys throughout Baghdad and the greater Iraq area.Post military service, Shelly is very involved in Veteran Advocacy, and completed her graduate degree on the Post 9/11 GI Bill at the University of Maryland. She was also awarded the prestigious Tillman Military Scholar scholarship and volunteers with the Pat Tillman Foundation and Team Rubicon. Shelly is married to an active duty soldier and lives in Washington, D.C.

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