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Service secretaries tackle employment challenges for overseas spouses

WASHINGTON (AFNS) --

All three military service secretaries signed a memorandum today to jointly explore how military spouses can find employment and sustain careers at overseas bases.

“Military service is a team sport that begins with the family," said Secretary of the Army Mark Esper. “Helping our spouses pursue their careers while they support their service members is not only the right thing to do, it improves the readiness of the force and our retention of top talent.”

The joint memorandum directs each service assistant secretary for manpower and reserve affairs to support a tri-service team that seeks to understand the barriers to military spouse employment overseas. The team is expected to make recommendations to policies, programs and laws that would make employment for spouses overseas easier.

The tri-service team is expected to provide an update of their work to service secretaries by September 2019, with a final report and recommendations by December 2019.

“We must be mindful that while we recruit individuals, we retain families,” said Secretary of the Navy Richard V. Spencer. “Our military spouses support us without hesitation and it is only right to support them. That is why we are committed to removing barriers and helping our military spouses find employment overseas.”

The effort is part of a broader initiative to holistically address readiness challenges, including retention.

Additionally, each service has released memorandums directing officials to implement re-licensure cost reimbursement for spouses based on authorities provided in the 2018 National Defense Authorization Act. The policy offsets the cost, up to $500, of professional re-licensure incurred by military families as a result of qualified military assignments that move the family across state lines.

“We’ve made an impact on reciprocity for licensure for family members stateside,” said Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson. “When I was visiting Aviano (AFB) recently, the issue of spouse employment overseas came up and things we might be able to do to make it easier. I’m glad we are doing this together.”

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