DoD, USO give military service members and spouses new resources for careers

Military service members and spouses have a handful of new resources from the Defense Department and USO when looking for employment.

The Pentagon announced late last month that it kicked off its newly enhanced MySECO website, which provides career and education guidance to military spouses worldwide.

“DoD’s Spouse Education and Career Opportunities program connects military spouses with benefits and support that help them overcome barriers to employment, such as frequent relocation,” said Patricia Montes Barron, deputy assistant secretary of Defense for military community and family policy. “MySECO is an important tool for spouses and we are excited to offer them an easier, faster and more intuitive way to explore their interests, research occupations, and search for scholarships, look for schools and find jobs.”

The website helps spouses take advantage of DoD benefits like $4,000 for education and training and a database of companies that have committed to recruiting and hiring military spouses.

A Blue Star Families study found that military spouses were especially hard hit by the coronavirus pandemic. Nearly half of working spouses lost their jobs. Spouses already contended with high unemployment rates due to the need to frequently move with their service member.

DoD will also conduct its fifth annual virtual hiring fair for military spouses on June 16. The fair gives them the opportunity to chat with hiring managers from more than 100 companies all over the world.

“We’re proud of the success of [the] military spouse employment program (MSEP) since its inception 10 years ago,” said Montes Barron. “The MSEP Virtual Hiring Fair is the perfect platform to recognize that success by making it easy and convenient for military spouses worldwide to connect with hiring managers who recognize their value as employees.”

The USO, a charitable organization that supports service members and their families, is also providing a new mentorship program for transitioning service members and spouses.

Those who sign up for the program take a survey in the beginning to gauge their interest in different careers.

“There’s actually an algorithm that pairs the mentees to the mentors in terms,” Laura Zabriskie, a USO programs manager for the military families team, told Federal News Network. “When a mentee is searching for mentors, there’s a list provided to them based off the how they answered the questions at the onset, and based on the mentors availability. The wonderful thing about that is you can go down that list and you can reach out to those mentors. You can also do a keyword search. Let’s say you want to learn more about yoga — you type in ‘yoga’ and it pops up with mentors who have yoga listed or knowledge about yoga, or maybe they have elemental meditation or something in their profile.”

Sunny Babauta Lee, transitions program management specialist at USO, said those pairings can also be honed down to localities so service members and spouses can meet mentors when they move to a new area.

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