3 Big Military Spouse Professional Advocacy Networks
Advocacy Networks for Military Spouse Professionals
Advocacy – a seemingly abstract concept – is something that military spouses with professional careers should understand and practice. It involves navigating roadblocks, barriers, or downright dead ends in a professional career. Fortunately, tons of advocacy groups are on a mission to help military spouses break through these barriers. In addition they seek to help military spouses learn skills to advocate for themselves. Learn more about these military spouse professional advocacy groups.
What is Advocacy?
Advocacy involves action – sometimes as simple as speaking up or saying no to something– that has the potential to influence change. An advocate is the person or group of people doing the action. These sections focus on self and professional advocacy.
Professional Careers and Military Spouses
There are over 600,000 active-duty military spouses. They are highly skilled, educated, and qualified for employment. However, frequent relocations and deployments can negatively impact employment status. This translates to underemployment and significant income loss at alarming rates when comparing military spouses to their civilian counterparts. According to the Women’s Bureau:
- Unemployment rate among military spouses is 3 times higher than the national rate
- 89% have some college education; 30% have a bachelor’s degree; 15% have an advanced degree
- 34% of military spouses work in occupations that require licenses and transferring licenses from state to state can be complex and delay securing employment after a PCS
Familiar and frustrating, isn’t it?
How Military Spouses Can Practice Self-Advocacy
From taking advantage of free resume writing services to writing legislators, there are many ways that military spouses can practice self-advocacy related to a professional career.
Know your resources. The list of professional networks, employment support services, and education resources for military spouses is long. A strong professional network is a great jumping-off point for figuring out exactly what resources you have. Find out what resources are available to you and utilize them.
Understand your barriers. You may encounter nothing but roadblocks and dead ends when transferring a license, securing employment, or even finding job vacancies. Writing out a list of barriers and brainstorming what can be done about them is a useful exercise. This may also help find a path of least resistance to employment.
Participate. If you are a military spouse, you’ve probably been asked to fill out surveys. Did you participate? One of the simplest ways to practice self-advocacy is to tell your story to the organizations that offer support.
Know that change takes time. Change can involve lengthy processes. Just like it takes time to transfer a license and career to another state, it takes time for advocacy efforts to produce change.
Defense State Liaison Office
The Defense-State Liaison Office works to provide state-level policymakers with insight on significant issues faced by military families. Communicate with your liaison about issues that you are experiencing. From their website, you can track 10 key issues including:
- Initiatives to improve military spouse licensure portability by eliminating barriers and establishing licensure compacts
- Removing burdensome certification requirements for military spouse teachers
- Improve support for higher education by sustaining in-state tuition for military dependents
Spouse Ambassador Network
The Spouse Ambassador Network is a network of 25 organizations affiliated with the Military Spouse Employment Partnership who work together to raise awareness of military spouse education and employment resources. Member organizations that advocate for military spouses include:
- Navy League of the United States
- National Military Family Association
- Military Spouse of the Year
- Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors
- Family Readiness
- Military Officers Association of America
- The Rosie Network
- Blue Star Families
- The MILSPO Project
- Veteran Staffing Network
- Chris Kyle Frog Foundation
- Hiring Our Heroes
- Military Spouse JD Network
- Military Spouse Advocacy Network
- United Service Organization
- Board of Veteran’s Appeals
The majority of military spouses are women. The US Department of Labor’s Women’s Bureau advocates through collaboration with organizations to increase employment opportunities for military spouses. Through collaboration, the Women’s Bureau launched the Military Spouse Interstate License Recognition Options interactive map. This provides valuable information for military spouses navigating a state to state professional license transfer.
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About the author
Chelsea Bostelman is a registered nurse who stays busy with freelance writing, exploring Europe, and working on a graduate degree in nursing. She founded the Stuttgart Nurse Journal Club to provide underemployed nurses with free continuing education opportunities. A 10-year military spouse, she and her family spend their free time hiking, biking, and eating in southern Germany.