Our active-duty military members make tremendous sacrifices in the course of their service. While most of us support the work of the armed forces, there is another group that also suffers considerable hardship behind the scenes: military spouses.
Plagued by unemployment and underemployment
According to a Department of Defense survey, military spouses face rates of unemployment and underemployment (holding jobs outside of their chosen field) at more than six times that of their non-military counterparts, even those in impoverished communities where opportunities are limited.
Women, who often struggle to balance work and family responsibilities, encounter additional obstacles. Nine out of ten military spouses are women, and only 27% of those surveyed reported that they were working full-time, compared to 49% of male military spouses. Women pointed to family responsibilities as their primary obstacle to securing gainful employment.
Barriers to employment
For a variety of reasons, military spouses face a host of hurdles in finding and keeping employment.
- Frequent moves. Military families must frequently pack up and move for deployments or transfers, incurring considerable expenses along the way. Staying in each location for short periods of time often causes military spouses to have gaps in their employment, or a spotty resume that shows they've never remained at one job for very long, sending a red-flag to would-be employers that these individuals would not make the best hires.
- Lack of opportunities. When arriving at a new military base, civilian spouses may be unable to find jobs in the fields they are trained in. Military spouses are further hindered when they have to live overseas and cannot obtain a work visa.
- Predatory business practices. While some companies have made a concerted effort to extend employment opportunities to military spouses, others have instead tried to take advantage of them, getting them involved in direct-sales positions that yield little pay, further aggravating a precarious financial situation. Not surprisingly, this community is more likely than the general population to take out PayDay loans or be exploited by certain financial service businesses.
Financial support for military spouses after divorce
Divorce often leaves former military spouses with new and unexpected financial responsibilities, with few resources to meet them. Providing military spouses with financial support after divorce can help them make ends meet as they navigate this transition and get their lives back on track.