This summer, President Biden and First Lady Jill Biden traveled to North Carolina to sign a new executive order (EO) to help military spouses, caregivers and survivors gain greater access to economic opportunities. The event was hosted at Fort Liberty which is currently home to the largest number of military spouses in the nation. Under this act, several new government-sponsored options will be available to those most impacted by military life.
“We’re asking agencies to make it easier for spouses employed by the federal government to take administrative leave, telework and move offices,” First Lady Dr. Jill Biden said at the time of signing. “We’re creating resources to support entrepreneurs. And the executive order helps agencies and companies retain military spouses through telework when they move abroad.”
This EO, in the works for more than a year, includes a variety of actions to improve the hiring and retention of military and veterans’ spouses in the federal government workforce, helping them obtain employment outside of the federal government, and improving access to childcare for military families.
Among the primary actions in the EO is a directive by the president to develop a government-wide strategic plan for hiring and retaining military and veteran spouses, caregivers and survivors. The strategy must include procedures for marketing the talent, experience and diversity of military and veteran spouses, caregivers and survivors to agencies and to encourage agencies to set benchmarks to improve performance and accountability.
One of the most anticipated and influential programs to come from this will be the Military Spouse Pathway to Business Program, launched by the U.S. Small Business Administration and aimed at helping spouses, caregivers and survivors to have the same resources for entrepreneurship as veterans and active-duty service members.
Military Spouse Pathway to Business classes will be hosted nationwide, in-person and virtually, throughout the calendar year. Military spouses with a strong business idea or considering entrepreneurship are encouraged to sign up. Participants will learn key steps for evaluating business concepts and receive the foundational knowledge required to develop a business plan. This course introduces military spouses to a broad spectrum of entrepreneurial business concepts such as market research, economics, legal considerations and finances. Each class will offer additional resources available to military spouses for accessing startup capital, receiving technical assistance, earning contracting opportunities and more.
“The course is designed similarly to SBA’s Boots to Business and Boots to Business Reboot courses…but takes into account the unique experience of military spouses,” said Timothy Green, Acting Associate Administrator for the Office of Veterans Business Development. “Military spouses have been and are still encouraged to attend those programs; however, the Military Spouse Pathway to Business program gives military spouses a dedicated curriculum, peer group and schedule that may be better suited for them.”
The EO will also provide more employment opportunities to military spouses, caregivers and survivors. Through this order, military spouses will now be given non-competitive appointment authority in federal job postings and increased telework options to retain a job in the U.S., even during overseas deployment with their active-duty spouse.
“It directs agencies to set government-wide standards for the agencies to make remote work options more accessible to military spouses residing with their service members stationed overseas,” Cara Abercrombie, who serves as both deputy assistant to the president and the National Security Council’s coordinator for defense policy and arms control stated. “It outlines telework and remote work flexibility for military spouses and caregivers, conveying the importance of retention efforts of this resilient community of federal employees.”
Sources: SBA, Department of Defense