Joining Forces to Increase Job Opportunities for Military Spouses

Joining Forces to Increase Job Opportunities for Military Spouses

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By: Chris Cortez - MajGen, USMC (Ret.), General Manager, Microsoft Strategic Operations, Americas and Asia Pacific

Cross posted from the FutureFed Blog

Today, I was proud to represent both my country and my employer, Microsoft, by standing in support of military families at “Joining Forces: Launching the Military Spouse Employment Partnership” which took place at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in Washington, D.C. Joining Forces is a program First Lady Michelle Obama and Second Lady Dr. Jill Biden launched in April to support the “force behind the forces.” A key focus is improving job opportunities for military spouses.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Hiring Our Heroes initiative hosts Dr. Jill Biden – co-chair of the White House’s Joining Forces initiative – and the Department of Defense to launch the Military Spouse Employment Partnership (MSEP) with Deborah Mullen and Kevin Schmiegel. (Photo by Ian Wagreich / © U.S. Chamber of Commerce)

Today’s event was a powerful and meaningful display of commitment. We heard Dr. Biden and Dr. Clifford Stanley, the Undersecretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness, reinforce the significance of supporting military spouses.

The Defense Department acknowledges that finding employment is a huge challenge for many military spouses. Currently, military spouses face an unemployment rate of 28 percent – nearly three times the national average. What’s worse, they earn an average of 25 percent less than civilian spouses. The President’s Strengthening Our Military Families (PSD-9) report, signed last January, identified increasing opportunities for private-sector and Federal careers for military spouses as an important national goal.

As her husband, Admiral Michael Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, watched from the audience, Debbie Mullen noted to a packed room of military and business leaders that of all the causes on which the First and Second Ladies of this country could focus, they have chosen military families. That alone brings together critical backing for the Military Spouse Employment Partnership (MSEP) Program launched today.

MSEP will directly connect military spouses with organizations specifically looking to hire them. The program expands the Army Spouse Employment Partnership (ASEP), which had 57 corporate partners, to all the branches of the military, adding 15 new corporate partners today. Microsoft is proud to stand as one of these partners to build on the success that ASEP has had in hiring more than 100,000 military spouses since its 2003 launch.

Our participation in this partnership underscores Microsoft’s commitment to veterans and their families. Our Military2Microsoft program assists U.S. veterans and those serving in the National Guard and Reserve to transition and find job opportunities within Microsoft. This program incorporates a variety of resources online to help make the job search experience easier for military talent. Last year, we launched Microsoft Elevate America Veterans initiative, to provide U.S. veterans and their spouses with the skills and resources they need to successfully find civilian employment.

As we showcased this past Memorial Day on the Microsoft Unlimited Potential Blog, veterans are successfully participating in the program to advance their careers and improve their quality of life. It’s stories like these that remind us how essential this support is, and it’s why in 2010, we committed to providing $2 million in cash and up to $6 million in software and training to organizations working directly with veterans in local communities across the country over the following two years. Microsoft’s participation in MSEP continues this tradition.

For photos from today’s event, visit the U.S. Chamber of Commerce “Hiring Our Heroes” Flickr page.

For more information on MSEP and how to get involved, please visit :

Military One Source: http://www.militaryonesource.com/MOS.aspx

News on the Initiative: http://www.defense.gov/news/newsarticle.aspx?id=64438

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