By Debbie Gregory.
Everyone acknowledges the sacrifices that military spouses make in support their loved one’s military service. Today’s military spouses usually endure multiple deployments, with months and years spent away from their husband or wife. Military spouses must pick up the slack in these times, playing both mother and father to their children. They do this while keeping a brave face for everyone else, including their deployed spouse, even though they may be living in fear the entire time.
What a lot of people outside of the military community may not realize is the sacrifices that military spouses make in their professional lives. Military spouses, even trained and experienced ones, often have difficulty finding jobs. A large number of U.S. military installations are located in remote areas of the country, making jobs within a reasonable commuting range rare. And even when military spouses find employment, they are usually forced to relocate every few years when their spouse receives orders to move to another installation. Then the spouse’s job search starts all over again.
Recently, the Obama administration has mandated a hiring preference for military spouses applying for federal jobs. The mandate gives spouses a hiring preference that is similar to the one that the administration ordered for Veterans.
On top of the president’s hiring preference, the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) is proposing to change the regulations on credible service for career tenure on federal jobs. The proposal will remove the requirement that credible service be continuous. This change is intended to help military spouses who hold positions with the federal government, and are forced to relocate or start and stop their employment due to their spouse’s deployment schedule.
But the proposed change would not be just for military spouses, but would also affect all federal employees. While many supporters of the proposed change agreed that the change would benefit military families, there is growing concern that the opening of this change to all federal employees could spark controversy. There is the worry that some federal employees could use this change as a means to bounce between federal positions and employment with private firms that hold government contracts. This could potentially create a conflict of interests between the government agencies and private contractors.
For now, the proposed change is supposed to be implemented for military spouses, and will be put on hold for further review for all other employees.
Just like their heroic husbands and wives, military spouses deserve every ounce of gratitude that our nation and its government can muster. The sacrifices made by service members and their families are so great and so frequent, that our gratitude can never compensate them enough for all that they do, and all that they give up in their service.