Tips For Bridging The Military Spouse Employment Gap


The aftermath of a Permanent Change of Station (PCS) is not only emotional but also financial.  When a military spouse is forced to leave her employment in order to relocate, the family must endure the loss of the additional income. Without that paycheck each week, the family’s budget can be severely damaged. Thankfully, the government has been taking steps to help make a difference.

One of the many benefits of being a military spouse is the opportunity to travel and experience a variety of places.  But in order to experience a new place, we must unfortunately leave the familiarity of where we are. Although we may get better at packing the boxes, the act of leaving never gets easier.  Each time it seems that something gets left behind. For many of us, it ends up being our job. With our job goes the comradery of coworkers that we have grown close to and of course, the security of that extra household  income.

Government Support

45 U.S. states and the District of Columbia have put legislation in place to protect military families from the financial hardship associated with a PCS move. The 5 U.S. states that are not participating are: Idaho, Louisiana, New Hampshire, Ohio, and W. Virginia. These states claim that the military spouse’s loss of employment is a “voluntary” act on the part of the spouse and do not take into account that the relocation was the result of military orders. The Defense State Liaison Office of the Military Community and Family Policy organization continues to work with these 5 states.

Unemployment Relief

unemploymentMilitary spouses who leave work due to relocation ARE eligible for unemployment compensation in the 45 participating states. Many states go a step further and stipulate that unemployment insurance claims related to military spouses do not accrue to the employer’s unemployment filing status. This helps protect military spouses from being discriminated against by employers who are reluctant to hire them because they are afraid that they may leave due to another relocation.

Spousal unemployment is one of the reasons that service members cite for their separation from the military. Unemployment compensation is a way to bridge the financial gap for military families during and after the frequent relocations during their service.

To find out if the state that you are moving from will pay unemployment compensation, you can contact the Department of Labor in that state. Click here for the complete directory of DOL services. Unemployment benefits are temporary financial assistance to unemployed workers who meet eligibility determined by each state. Military spouses are not guaranteed compensation; proper application and general qualifications must be met. In most states, filing can be done over the internet. Claims usually take two or three weeks to process after all required information is provided.

Building Portable Skills During Unemployment

on laptopEligibility is generally based on earnings, length of employment, and the reason for the job loss, such as a PCS move. As a recipient of unemployment benefits, you will usually be required to report on your employment status biweekly, actively search for a new job or improve your career skills through education.

Many military spouses see unemployment as an opportunity to better themselves and improve their career skills by going back to school and earning a certificate in a high demand field like HealthcareMedical Admin or Business. Often times they are able to do this completely online, in as little as 6 months, with no out of pocket expense, using MyCAA if they qualify. What is great about this, is that it can be done from the comfort of your own house, so there is no need for transportation or a babysitter. The big thing to remember when choosing an online program is that you will want to make sure hat the college you choose is accredited by the Accrediting Commission of the Distance Education and Training Council (DETC).

Visit the National Conference of State Legislatures to check the status of non-participating state. The NCSL is a bipartisan organization that provides support, ideas, connections and a strong voice on Capitol Hill and communicate state’s policy on unemployment and other information for military members and Veterans. They track a variety of military and veterans issues, including the health and mental health of returning soldiers; education benefits for military personnel, veterans, spouses and dependent children; employment and occupational licensing; environmental and land use laws for lands adjacent to military installations; and income and property taxation for service members and veterans. They communicate the individual state’s policy on unemployment and other information for military members and Veterans. Military spouses who leave a job in one of the nonparticipating states may contact state legislatures to express their views on the issue.

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