Resources Every Military Spouse Needs

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military spouse and young family hugging by the front door

As a spouse, you manage the unique challenges of military life. You may take on new roles and adapt to new schedules. Department of Defense has resources to help you and your family thrive.

The Military Family Readiness System

You may choose to live on or off the installation. Either way, your Military Family Readiness System is your go-to source for support. It’s a network of programs and services with resources to help you navigate military life.

Use it to find moving and relocation help, new-parent support, financial fitness content and career counseling.

Networking and Financial Programs

  • The Military and Family Life Counseling Program is free and confidential. It provides short-term, non-medical counseling for service members, their families and survivors. Counselors understand military life, and they can help you manage it. Reach out with questions about various topics, including parenting, moving, deployment, work or the death of a loved one.
  • The Exceptional Family Member Program (EFMP) offers services and resources for families with special needs. EFMP helps families navigate medical and educational systems. Visit or call your Military and Family Support Center for information and assistance.
  • The MilSpouse Money Mission offers a Money 101 course and a range of tips to educate and empower military spouses. Use it to elevate your family with smart money moves.
  • Branch-specific relief programs, such as Army Emergency Relief and the Air Force Aid Society, provide no-interest loans for financial emergencies. These programs must be applied for by your service member but can benefit the entire family.

Careers and Educational Tools

  • The Spouse Education and Career Opportunities program provides education and career guidance for military spouses worldwide. Create and use your MySECO account for resources and tools for all career stages, including training, job readiness and career connections through the Military Spouse Employment Partnership.
  • The Military Spouse Career Advancement Account (MyCAA) scholarship program can help military spouses get credentials to achieve career goals.
  • American Job Centers (AJCs) provide free help to job seekers for various career and employment-related needs. Nearly 2,400 AJCs, funded by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration, are located throughout the United States.
  • Skillsoft, in partnership with the USO, is offering active-duty members, veterans and military spouses full access to their collection of training and certification resources. Classes in business operations, DNI, management, sales and marketing, security and programming are just a handful of the many courses available.

Helpful Tools

  • Military OneSource is an excellent resource for information and services. It is available 24/7, anywhere in the world. Access it online or by phone at 800-342-9647 or use OCONUS dialing options.
  • Plan My Move at MilitaryOneSource.mil lets you create custom checklists and guides you through tasks.
  • Plan My Deployment at MilitaryOneSource.mil helps you prepare for deployment. It breaks down each phase and provides planning tools and helpful tips.
  • MilitaryChildCare.com is a website the Department of Defense sponsors. Use it to find military-owned or approved child care anywhere in the world. Fee assistance is available for those who qualify.
  • Homes.mil connects service members and their families with community housing rental listings near military bases.
  • EFMP&Me is a digital tool for families with special needs. It provides EFMP information 24/7 for busy military parents. Families can learn about support services, preparing for a move or deployment, education or medical needs and adjusting to new life situations.
  • Build A Sign is a business that makes sign and banner creations for “welcome home” events quick and easy. They provide their services free to military families, only requiring you to cover shipping costs. Visit BuildASign.com/troops for details.

No matter what stage your family is at in your military journey, you have someone in your corner, and there is always help when you need it.

Sources: U.S. Army, CareerOneStop, Military OneSource, Sandboxx, Skillsoft

How to Make Your MilSpouse Resume Shine

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woman looking over notes on notepad smiling wearing glasses

By Kristi Stolzenberg

If you ever run an internet search for the phrase “military spouse resume,” you’ll be swimming in articles offering tips for a winning military spouse resume.

Now, if you are a janitor’s spouse, or a CPA’s spouse, you’ll probably come up short. To my knowledge, military spouses are the only group receiving specific resume guidance just because of their spouse’s career.

Ever read one of those articles promising the tips for a winning military spouse resume? The advice is not remotely exclusive to military spouses. We aren’t the only population with resume gaps, we aren’t the first to include volunteer work on a professional resume and we certainly aren’t the only ones changing jobs every few years (though we might have the best excuse).

But somewhere between the white gloves and military spouse employment revolution, someone cast the military spouse resume as complicated. We were told not to disclose our status as military spouses because it could lead to hiring discrimination.

Flash forward to 2022. We now have a federal military spouse hiring preference, employment partnerships, spouse license reciprocity legislation and — cherry on top — COVID-19 showed all the skeptics that personal and professional lives can actually coexist. We can now safely say there is no need to mask your status as a military spouse on your resume.

The great John Steinbeck once said, “Now that you don’t have to be perfect, you can be good.” “Good” in this case means allowing ourselves to be strong candidates on paper based on all our accomplishments whether or not they give away your military spouse status, especially in those occasional employment gaps. Let’s get into it:

The Resume Gap: I said it before, but it’s worth repeating. We don’t own the resume gap. Anyone who has ever left the office to be a stay-at-home parent or start a business or to wanderlust across the globe has a resume gap. Anyone who has ever been laid off has a resume gap. It is not unique to military spouses. Don’t let it intimidate you into not pursuing a fulfilling career or into taking a job that isn’t fulfilling just to avoid the gap.

No matter the why behind the gap, find an experience to fill the void — it doesn’t have to be a huge time commitment either. Volunteer somewhere that can be connected back to your lane of expertise. Take a class. Sit on a board for something.

The Spouse Club or Base Organization: Should you include the spouse club on your resume? It depends. Did you hold a leadership position in the club? Did you manage people or finances or plan major events? Were there any major accomplishments during your term? And do they apply to what you’re applying for? If yes, then include it!

The Volunteer: I reviewed a resume recently for a friend, and she had not included any volunteer work at all. Contrast that with my resume that is 50 percent philanthropic work. I know not every resume reviewer and prospective employer will agree with me on this, but experience is experience. Including philanthropic work not only shows that you give back to your community, but it also shows that you don’t just work for a paycheck — you do a job because you genuinely care about the cause. List current and relevant volunteer experience — period.

The Haiku: We all started somewhere. I’m pretty sure I included my high school job of ice cream scooper on my resume for my first “real” job post-college just for the sake of reaching the end of the page. And that’s OK. When you need to demonstrate that you possess certain skills for a job, include whatever you need to from your career thus far (paid or unpaid) to show you’re qualified. Did that job as an ice cream scooper in a tourist hot spot during the summer prepare me for my first job? You better believe it. Communication skills, performing under pressure (that post-dinner rush that had a line out the door was no joke), customer service, money management and so much more.

The Novel: To be clear, I no longer list my job from 20 years ago as an ice cream scooper on my resume. In fact, I’ve worked long enough in the content management, public affairs and legislative affairs lanes that I no longer even list my former middle school teaching jobs — not because they weren’t challenging, but because I have more targeted and recent experience to say what I need to say on paper. When you have more experience, be more selective.

The Hodgepodge: Ever look at your resume and wonder what you’re trying to accomplish? Like the theme is that there is no theme? That is OK, my friends. It’s OK because the job title and the employer are just two parts of what you’re going to include about the job. You are also going to list what your responsibilities were, what skills you used and any accomplishments. In the same way the short resume is temporary, the “little bit of everything” resume is temporary too. Eventually, you’re going to see a trend, and in the meantime, pull out the key components that will connect you to the job you’re seeking.

The Point: The absolute most important rule of resume writing is tailoring it for the job you want. You do this by reading the job description of the job you’re applying for. Print it out. Highlight the job expectations and required skills. Then, think back in your professional past (to be clear this is education, philanthropic and paid experience). Match what you’ve done to what the employer is looking for. Make sure the experience you list clearly demonstrates that you check those boxes.

If you can do that, your qualifications will speak for themselves — which is the whole point of the resume after all. Focus on what you’ve done and drop that undue stress of your military spouse status. If the reviewer can piece it together because you’ve only worked in small base towns no one has ever heard of, good for them. If you get passed over for an interview simply because they suspect you’re a military spouse, you don’t want to work there anyway. And, if you get offered a job, it will be — and should be — because of your own qualifications, not your marital status.

Source: Blog Brigade

A Letter From the Editor–What’s Your Legacy?

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Retired Marine Paul Masi pauses by the name of his high school classmate, Robert Zwerlein.

By Danielle Jackola

As we honor the 40th anniversary of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, I had the privilege of speaking with Jan Scruggs and learning about “The Story Behind the Wall” (page 12). Our conversation prompted some introspection, and I considered my legacy.

As a MilSpouse, I have dedicated my time and treasure to serve our military and military families. My husband retired five years ago. I have continued as a mentor and volunteer by connecting veterans and their spouses to employment opportunities.

There are many ways people are called to a life of service.

In our Veterans Day issue, we celebrate you and commend your service to our country. Many of you continue to serve our military, veteran organizations and your communities in various capacities, working to improve the world.

As The King of Rock ‘n’ Roll, Elvis Presley has had an enduring impact on music and his fans. When Presley was drafted into the Army in 1957, he was eager to prove to naysayers that he could make it as a Soldier. He was “proud of his service” and continues to be the most famous veteran. In our cover story, we reflect on Presley’s time in the Army on page 86 and recognize other “Famous Veterans Throughout History” on page 64.

In this issue, we share Hot Jobs on page 10 for those seeking employment or a career change. For business owners taking the “First Steps on the Road to Certification” to expand their business, visit page 60 to get started. The “PACT Act Passed,” and we share everything you need to know on page 126, including how to file a claim.

On Veterans Day and throughout the year, U.S. Veterans Magazine honors you. We stand in gratitude for your commitment, bravery and the sacrifices you have made in service to our country.

— Danielle Jackola
Editor, U.S. Veterans Magazine
Sr. Manager of Veteran Affairs

Image caption: Retired Marine Paul Masi pauses by the name of his high school classmate, Robert Zwerlein.
Photo credit: Tom Williams/Cq-Roll Call, Inc. Via Getty Images

7 Military Spouse Resume Tips for Career Opportunities

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Military Spouse Resume Tips

By Kristi Stolzenberg

If you ever run an internet search for the phrase “ military spouse resume tips ,” you’ll be swimming in articles offering tips for a winning military spouse resume. Now, if you are a janitor’s spouse, or a CPA’s spouse, you’ll probably come up short.

To my knowledge, military spouses are the only group receiving specific resume guidance just because of their spouse’s career.

Ever read one of those articles promising the tips for a winning military spouse resume? The advice is not remotely exclusive to military spouses. We aren’t the only population with resume gaps, we aren’t the first to include volunteer work on a professional resume and we certainly aren’t the only ones changing jobs every few years (though we might have the best excuse).

But somewhere between the white gloves and military spouse employment revolution, someone cast the military spouse resume as complicated. We were told not to disclose our status as military spouses because it could lead to hiring discrimination.

Flash forward to 2022. We now have a federal military spouse hiring preference, employment partnerships, spouse license reciprocity legislation and — cherry on top — COVID-19 showed all the skeptics that personal and professional lives can actually coexist. We can now safely say there is no need to mask your status as a military spouse on your resume.

The great John Steinbeck once said, “Now that you don’t have to be perfect, you can be good.” “Good” in this case means allowing ourselves to be strong candidates on paper based on all our accomplishments whether or not they give away your military spouse status, especially in those occasional employment gaps..thats why we need these military spouse resume tips. Let’s get into it:

 

The Resume Gap: I said it before, but it’s worth repeating. We don’t own the resume gap. Anyone who has ever left the office to be a stay-at-home parent or start a business or to wanderlust across the globe has a resume gap. Anyone who has ever been laid off has a resume gap. It is not unique to military spouses. Don’t let it intimidate you into not pursuing a fulfilling career or into taking a job that isn’t fulfilling just to avoid the gap.

No matter the why behind the gap, find an experience to fill the void — it doesn’t have to be a huge time commitment either. Volunteer somewhere that can be connected back to your lane of expertise. Take a class. Sit on a board for something.

 

The Spouse Club or Base Organization: Should you include the spouse club on your resume? It depends. Did you hold a leadership position in the club? Did you manage people or finances or plan major events? Were there any major accomplishments during your term? And do they apply to what you’re applying for? If yes, then include it!

 

The Volunteer: I reviewed a resume recently for a friend, and she had not included any volunteer work at all. Contrast that with my resume that is 50 percent philanthropic work. I know not every resume reviewer and prospective employer will agree with me on this, but experience is experience, reguardless if you use our military spouse resume tips. Including philanthropic work not only shows that you give back to your community, but it also shows that you don’t just work for a paycheck — you do a job because you genuinely care about the cause. List current and relevant volunteer experience — period.

 

The Haiku: We all started somewhere. I’m pretty sure I included my high school job of ice cream scooper on my resume for my first “real” job post-college just for the sake of reaching the end of the page. And that’s OK. When you need to demonstrate that you possess certain skills for a job, include whatever you need to from your career thus far (paid or unpaid) to show you’re qualified. Did that job as an ice cream scooper in a tourist hot spot during the summer prepare me for my first job? You better believe it. Communication skills, performing under pressure (that post-dinner rush that had a line out the door was no joke), customer service, money management and so much more.

 

The Novel: To be clear, I no longer list my job from 20 years ago as an ice cream scooper on my resume. In fact, I’ve worked long enough in the content management, public affairs and legislative affairs lanes that I no longer even list my former middle school teaching jobs — not because they weren’t challenging, but because I have more targeted and recent experience to say what I need to say on paper. When you have more experience, be more selective.

 

The Hodgepodge: Ever look at your resume and wonder what you’re trying to accomplish? Like the theme is that there is no theme? That is OK, my friends. It’s OK because the job title and the employer are just two parts of what you’re going to include about the job. You are also going to list what your responsibilities were, what skills you used and any accomplishments. In the same way the short resume is temporary, the “little bit of everything” resume is temporary too. Eventually, you’re going to see a trend, and in the meantime, pull out the key components that will connect you to the job you’re seeking.

 

The Point: The absolute most important rule of resume writing is tailoring it for the job you want. You do this by reading the job description of the job you’re applying for. Print it out. Highlight the job expectations and required skills. Then, think back in your professional past (to be clear this is education, philanthropic and paid experience). Match what you’ve done to what the employer is looking for. Make sure the experience you list clearly demonstrates that you check those boxes.

If you can do that, your qualifications will speak for themselves — which is the whole point of the resume after all. Focus on what you’ve done and drop that undue stress of your military spouse status. If the reviewer can piece it together because you’ve only worked in small base towns no one has ever heard of, good for them. If you get passed over for an interview simply because they suspect you’re a military spouse, you don’t want to work there anyway. And, if you get offered a job, it will be — and should be — because of your own qualifications, not your marital status.

 

Source: Blog Brigade

The Dos and Don’ts of Veteran Interview Tips

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A Military Veteran and his wife wrapped in an american flag in a field of tall dried out grass

Many civilian employers have admitted challenges when it comes to evaluating a veteran during a job interview – this is why these veteran interview tips  will give you an extra edge. Often, veterans have difficulty explaining how their military experience relates to the needs of the civilian employer.

Additionally, while veterans will be quick to praise their team or unit, they are typically not self-boastful in interviews, so civilian employers can often feel like veteran candidates are not “selling themselves.” This where these veteran interview tips will come in hand

It is important to keep in mind that the concept of professional presentation is often different for former military personnel than for civilians. Military personnel (particularly those recently separated/discharged from military service) will often present themselves with eyes forward, back straight and using “Sir” and “Ma’am” vocabulary (often without much smiling). This behavior may be misperceived as cold, distant, unapproachable or demonstrating a lack of social skills. While this is generally not the case, these perceptions have caused many service members to be discarded early in the interview process.

Hire Our Heroes

Employers should recognize that former military personnel may need permission to “speak freely” to create a comfort level where they can appear in the most positive light. Heeding these veteran interview tips are essential for the process to hire our heroes. Hiring managers should be encouraged to be patient with these candidates and to “dig deep” with follow up questions to find qualities that are not apparent at first glance. It is worth remembering that veteran candidates, unlike many civilian candidates, may not be accustomed to interviewing and may require a little latitude.

Know What You Can and Should Not Ask During an Interview

First and foremost, interviewing a veteran or wounded warrior is no different than interviewing any other candidate. It is important to ask all questions of all candidates, without exception. A good interviewing practice is to ask all candidates the following question: “Have you read the job description? Yes or no — can you, with or without a reasonable accommodation, perform the essential functions of the job?” You are not asking the candidate to disclose whether or not they have a disability but are ensuring they can perform the essential functions of the job. In addition, you make it clear that as an employer you understand this process and are not likely to discriminate due to disability.

 

Great questions to ask veterans can include:

  • What is in the job description that interests you most?
  • Can you, with or without a reasonable accommodation, perform the essential functions of the job?
  • What type of training and education did you receive in the military?
  • Were you involved in the day-to-day management of people or supplies?

 

Questions you should NEVER ask veterans include:

  • What type of discharge did you receive?
  • Are you to be called up for duty anytime soon?
  • Did you experience any combat operations?
  • How could you leave your family while you were deployed?
  • Have you ever killed anyone?
  • Do you have post-traumatic stress disorder?

 

Making a Decision

If you feel like the veteran you interviewed for the position is simply not the right fit, you shouldn’t feel obligated to hire a veteran just because they are veteran. You should considering these veteran interview tips when when you feel to be inclusive to our heroes. However, you do need to take special factors into consideration when it comes to making a final decision on whether you should hire a veteran:

  • Did the veteran progress throughout his/her military career?
  • Identify the strengths such as leadership, accountability and team building
  • Look for compatibility — did the veteran match their military skills with the position?
  • Remember veterans have a myriad of soft skills, like leadership and flexibility
  • Veterans possess skills that can make them some of your best employees

Make sure that whatever your decision for hiring, that you hire the veteran because they are the best candidate. In the end, it will be the most beneficial to the employer and employee alike.

 

Sources: Obama White House Archives, Department of Veteran Services Ohio

“Who Moved My Couch?”: Minimizing Your Spouse’s Post-Deployment Stress

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man in military uniform lying on couch looking pensive

By Danielle Jackola

Separation can be challenging for everyone, but service members and their families can respectively face unique situations that no one anticipates.

While the service member needs to focus on being mission-ready, their spouse juggles the myriad responsibilities of managing the home front, often including a job, parenting and taking care of the house. Both roles are essential, and it’s crucial to understand some of the challenges each person experiences in order to make the homecoming transition smooth.

As a military spouse who has a passion for serving other spouses and our military community, I have always been intrigued by which situations foster supportive communication and which ones seem to prompt reoccurring issues. A common problem that initially surprised me but, upon further reflection, makes sense is the conflict that can arise when a spouse redecorates during deployment. Who knew that some decorative pillows could be a source of contention?

Through many heart-to-heart talks with service members, I’ve learned that the stress of deployment is eased by the comfort of thinking about the people they love and their memories of home. They crave a domestic haven that looks the way they left it, where they walk in after a long day, sink into their couch and relax with a sense of comfort and security. They want to be surrounded by things that are familiar.

As a spouse, I also understand the need to stay busy and to find joy outside the reality of handling all of the responsibilities at home. The days of deployment seem to drag on endlessly, and time seems to move at a snail’s pace. Most of us have also experienced the certainty that the car will inevitably break down, the water heater will break then flood the garage and one of the kids will end up in urgent care, at least once during deployment. The natural desire to find distraction from the chaos via changing your home décor is understandable, for sure! However, what feels like a fun, needed upgrade to your home can actually cause your spouse distress, whether realized or unconsciously.

Perhaps the best compromise — a skill military families have mastered — is preserving the sacred space of home while making plans together for incorporating fresh and fun updates that you both enjoy. I encourage you to fill the deployment with activities that both make you happy and foster a sense of belonging and community, like volunteering with other spouses or trading playdates. Save the home revamp and HGTV binge watching, though, for post-deployment when you can update your home in a way that is reflective of you both, and you can enjoy the process as a team.

NASM Supports Military Families with Career Opportunities

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Young military couple kissing each other, homecoming

By Chris Billingsley

NASM (National Academy of Sports Medicine), a global leader in fitness education and certifications, supports military families – not only on days like the annual – Military Spouse Appreciation Day – but every day by providing 30% off all courses for military members and their families, as well as a free course on mental toughness.

Since 2017, NASM has been recognized as a Military Friendly School, and its Certified Personal Training (CPT) program is also eligible for military funding reimbursement.

Not only do NASM courses offer invaluable health knowledge, for military members and their spouses, NASM also offers flexible career opportunities perfect for a military family’s lifestyle, which can often include multiple moves and makes working in a traditional environment difficult.

Working as a NASM certified personal trainer, wellness coach, or nutrition coach offers the freedom to work wherever and whenever works best for your family, while offering the purpose and satisfaction that comes from helping others achieve their goals.

In fact, for those that want to coach virtually, now is the best time to get started. NASM is seeing a 23% uptick in graduates who are offering virtual services since 2017, with the online fitness industry projected to grow from $16.15 billion this year to $79.87 billion in 2026.

Military spouses looking for career opportunities can also apply MyCAA scholarship funding to specific programs, including a Group Fitness Instructor certification through AFAA (Athletics and Fitness Association of America).

Learners have many options for their course of study – whether they’re interested in offering clients nutritional support, fitness knowledge, or comprehensive wellness coaching. NASM even offers bundles of courses as well as specializations, such as virtual coaching, to help students create the best program for their career goals.

For more information on how NASM supports military members and their families, visit www.nasm.org/certified-personal-trainer/military-support.

Fort Leavenworth Military spouse continues education at 49

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Kate Hanlen posing outdoors in flowery dress smiling

Great Bend Tribune

When Kate Hanlen went on a mission trip to Honduras at the age of 19, she didn’t know she would discover her career calling that would be 30 years in the making.

“We were there to help build buildings and paint mostly,” she said. “One day there was this six-year-old girl that was on the other side of a fence, and she spoke Spanish and I did not, but she showed me her leg and it had a big wound on it. I ran and grabbed a medical kit we had, and I didn’t know very much but I helped her as much as I could and I thought ‘Lord, if this is what you’re calling me to, I embrace it.’ Since that day, I’ve always prayed that my hands will be used to help as many people as possible.”

That pivotal moment caused Hanlen to enroll in nursing school, but after two years she wasn’t sure exactly in what specific arena she wanted continue helping people so, she enlisted in the Army reserves and served as a combat medic for eight years. During that time, she met her husband who was active duty and they married in 1995. Over the next 26 years, they had six children and traveled the world as a military family with her often handling all the parental duties when her husband was on deployments.

“We’ve traveled all over the world,” she said. “However, the needs of our family were always my treasure. I wanted to be with my kids, make our house a home since we did move so much.”

With her husband retired and four of her kids out of the house and the youngest two not far behind, Hanlen realized her amazing journey as a mother was going to transition into a stage that would allow her time to focus on herself.

Her son had utilized Barton’s LSEC courses in high school at Fort Leavenworth so he could graduate college more quickly. These classes are offered on scholarship to soldiers and their families that are stationed at Fort Leavenworth and Fort Riley.

“My son and I came down to the Army Education Center and we couldn’t believe we were able to take these classes at no charge, she said. “I kept asking them ‘Are you sure a bill for thousands of dollars isn’t going to show up in a few months?’”

Of course, no bill ever showed up, and now Hanlen is utilizing Barton’s LSEC classes at Fort Leavenworth to fill in some gaps on her transcript that she needs to finish her pre-requisites before transferring to St. Mary’s University to finish her nursing school. At that time, she hopes to find a job in hospice care.

Read the complete article here.

How to THRIVE (Not Just Survive) When Your Active-Duty Spouse Retires

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By Rebecca Hyleman

From the moment you stepped into your role as a military spouse you may have also started dreaming of your life beyond the confinements of this role, living life on YOUR terms. It may feel much longer, but those years will actually show up as fast as your spouse’s PT alarm. Whether you like it or not, it will soon be time to get up and get going on a whole new life.

Understand that this transition is going to take a toll on you and your family, but it’s important to make sure your own self-care and personal preparation is a priority, not an option. Start the process a minimum of 18-24 months before the anticipated-out date, meaning 6 months to a year BEFORE your spouse drops that paperwork to retire. A great place to start is by contacting VetsWhatsNext (vetswhatsnext.org), a nonprofit agency that assists veterans and their families by walking them through their transition before, during and after they officially leave the military.

If you are reading this looking for help and your spouse has already retired, as my spouse says, “If you wait until the last minute, it only takes a minute.” Start now.

Focus on Mental Health

Military spouses are often left out of the conversation about military mental health matters. Utilize Military One Source, Tricare or the Life Givers Network to find a counselor. Maybe you don’t feel like you need one, and that’s ok, look for one anyway. Search Psychology Today and find someone who looks like they will meet your needs, set up a quick five-minute introduction call or virtual meeting to see if that person could be a good fit for you.

If you are not in crisis, use the time to build rapport and create a safe space for yourself. A good therapist will help you fill your tool box with things you will need to be emotionally and mentally successful in the future. Think of this like you would a tune up. You could push your car’s mileage to wait for an oil change, but the problem is that you run the risk of major damage to your vehicle, which takes more time and parts to repair. That can be costly.

Finding a therapist before you need one sets you up for success and will help you stay in check. If something does happen, you’ll know exactly where to go (and will already be established).

Prioritize Physical Health

You may have missed appointments over the years or possibly asked a doctor to take a referral out of the system if you didn’t want to be placed into the EFMP system, unsure as to whether EFMP would risk your spouse’s career. You will, of course, be focused on your spouse, ensuring they have documented all of their medical records and are working to get their VA rating.

But what about your health? You might not be working towards a VA rating, but it doesn’t mean your health has not taken a toll over the years. Commit to finding a sitter, taking time off work and doing whatever needs to be done to prioritize getting your personal medical records in order.

Talk to your PCM (Primary Care Manger) about your needs, set up a physical and any other annual exams that may be coming up, create a plan to have refills of medications you may need, reach out to your military instillation, or other medical offices and gather your medical and vaccine records to create a file you can carry with you. If you have children, do the same for them.

Grow Through Personal Development

Consider hiring a Life Coach. Look for one who specializes in helping people with transitions. If you are not ready to jump into one-on-one coaching, start with a short workshop. Heyday Coaching’s Navigating Transitions 3-Part Workshop encouraged me to put down all of those things we carry as a military spouse, to take off the caregiver-helper hat and spend time reflecting and focusing on myself.

Dedicating specific time, with a Life Coach as my guide, I was finally able to start to answer the overwhelming questions that people were throwing my direction: “What do you want to do? Where do you want to live? Are you going to finally go back to work? What comes next for you?”

One would think that I had twenty-two years to answer these questions, but I found I was staying in the role of seeking what was best for everyone in the family, and I was putting myself last on the to-do list. A Life Coach can help you hear those needs you’ve been silencing — and no longer remember. Once you rediscover your needs, share them with your spouse.

Cultivate Professional Growth

Take advantage of free programs, like the “Arm-Me-Up Careers Campaign,” through Military Spouse Jobs, a non-profit with a mission for helping military spouse’s gain employment through no-cost job placement assistance and career progression services.

Also, create a LinkedIn account to start making professional connections.

Give Space and Time to Grieve

Grief is not an exclusive feeling to the death or loss of a loved one. The five stages of grief absolutely do occur when transitioning from active-duty military to civilian life. It will come in waves, and you might not be prepared for the things that will trigger the emotions. Give yourself grace as you ride the waves of denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. Just when you feel you are in a sea of calm, something will happen such as, seeing friends share their next PCS assignment while you are treading water with no land in sight. The way your body will respond to simple emotional triggers may come as a surprise, but take the time to move through the feelings so that you don’t stay stuck or have them show up in a bigger way later. While you may be gaining a whole new life in retirement, you are still losing a way of life with your spouse that you’ve probably been in for at least two decades, and it’s important to give time and space to experience your emotions.

Reach Out and Make Connections

You have been a part of a uniquely connected military community, and it has helped shape you into the person you are today. Don’t think you have to walk completely away the day your spouse receives retirement orders, but do recognize you are going to be straddling the fence with one foot in the military world and one foot in the civilian one. It may take time to figure out how to balance being in both places. Find new ways to connect with people outside of your military community. If you are not working in a civilian community, volunteer with a non-military nonprofit, joining a gym or fitness group, meet up with locals who share a similar hobby or volunteer to be an assistant coach for a local recreational league. If you plan to move to a new location, or go back to your hometown, take time to reach out to contacts in the area and set up coffee dates ahead of time.

Create a Quiet Space

Find a place in your house that can be all yours. Think about emptying out just enough of your closet to make room for a yoga mat and some blank wall space. Some people like to start their day with prayer and meditation, but others struggle making their minds turn off for peaceful sleep. Instead of scrolling your phone, head into your quiet space just before bed. If you use your phone as an alarm, be sure to set the alarm before you go into your space to stave off the temptation to scroll.

Keep a stack of note cards, a nice notebook, some tape and your favorite pens in your space. Use the time before bed to write down whatever comes to mind. It could be a favorite quote, something about your family, things you want in your retirement home, any worries, job ideas or any positive praises from your day, then tape them to the wall. Some days you may just have one thing to put on a notecard, and that’s fine. Other days you may write a novel in your notebook.

Close your eyes and spend time sitting and breathing in the good things while exhaling the hard parts.

Set Boundaries

Repeat after me: YOU are not responsible for fulfilling the expectations of others. This is your life, and only you get to decide what happens next. I’m talking about your friends and family here, not your spouse. Please, include your spouse. You are going to have people in your life who have created their own scenarios for what they believe is best after your spouse retires. It’s heartwarming to know that people love you and want to plan your life for you, but it’s not their life, and YOU are not responsible for their feelings. The cool thing about being an adult leaving the military life is that you no longer have someone making decisions for you. For the first time in a long time, maybe ever, you don’t just have the illusion of choice, you actually have a say in the next steps of your life. When people around you want to insert their ideas, and their feelings, it’s ok to listen, but hold onto your paper and pen. This next story is finally yours to write.

Source: VetsWhatsNext

Resources for Military Spouses in the Job Search

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Just as military veterans have sacrificed so much in service to our country, so too have their spouses. The Navy and Marine Corps recognize the invaluable contribution of military spouses and welcome their talents and strengths in our civilian workforce.

In the Department of the Navy — and throughout the Federal Government — military spouses have greater opportunities than ever before to be hired as members of the civilian workforce.

In 2009, the President signed an Executive Order that provides a non-competitive appointment authority for hiring certain qualified military spouses, spouses of disabled veterans and un-remarried widows/widowers of veterans.

Spouses of Active-Duty Military When Accompanying on a Change of Duty Status

Spouses accompanying their military sponsor on a Permanent Change of Station (PCS) move who meet all the following conditions:

  • The sponsor must be serving on active duty for more than 180 consecutive days, must have been issued an order for a PCS and must be authorized for dependent travel as part of the PCS orders.
  • The spouse must have been married to the sponsor on or prior to the date of the service member’s orders authorizing the PCS.
  • The spouse does not have to relocate to the new duty station in order to apply for non-competitive appointments.
  • Spouses who wish to exercise military spouse preference must relocate with the service member.
  • The position must be in the local commuting area of the sponsor’s new duty station.

Military spouses are eligible for Navy and Marine Corps civilian employment opportunities in two ways:

Non-competitive Appointments (E.O. 13473)

To apply for jobs, search for job opportunities in the Department of the Navy at don.usajobs.gov and apply directly to any position for which you meet all the qualification requirements. When applying, select Military Spouse under Executive Order 13473 on the eligibility questionnaire. See also “How to Apply” Tab at the top of the page for Applicant Toolkit information and resources.

Military Spouse Preference (MSP)

To exercise your military spouse preference, search for job opportunities in the Department of the Navy at don.usajobs.gov and apply directly to any position for which you meet all the qualification requirements. When applying, select Military Spouse Preference on the eligibility questionnaire. You will be asked to provide documentation that supports your status as military spouse preference eligible.

Spouses of Retired, Released or Discharged Veterans

There are two eligibility categories of spouses covered:

  1. Spouses of retired active-duty military with a service-connected disability of 100 percent, as documented by a branch of the armed services.
  2. Spouses of active-duty members released or discharged from active duty in the armed forces and have a disability rating of 100 percent, as documented by the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Spouses who meet either category above can apply to any position for which they meet all the qualification requirements.

Unmarried Widows/Widowers

This eligibility category is for unmarried widows/widowers whose spouses died while serving on active duty in the armed forces. It is not necessary that the active-duty member was killed in combat. The death may have been the result of enemy attack, accident, disease or natural causes.

Unmarried widows/widowers can apply to any position “Open to U.S. Citizen” for which they meet all the qualification requirements.

Mothers of Disabled or Deceased Veterans

This eligibility is for mothers who meet one of the below categories:

  1. Mothers of disabled veterans are eligible if your son or daughter was separated with an honorable or general discharge from active duty, including training service in the Reserves or National Guard AND is permanently and totally disabled from a service-connected injury or illness.
  2. Mothers of deceased veterans are eligible when your son or daughter died under honorable conditions while on active duty during a war or in a campaign or expedition for which a campaign medal has been authorized.

Mothers can apply to any “Open to U.S. Citizen” position for which they meet all the qualification requirements.

Documentation Requirements

Documentation might include:

  • Proof of marriage to the service member;
  • A copy of PCS orders authorizing the spouse to accompany the service member to a new duty location;
  • Proof the service member was released or discharged due to a 100 percent disability;
  • Proof of the service member’s death while on active duty.

Source: Department of the Navy Civilian Human Resources (secnav.navy.mil)

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