This article was updated to add the number of spouses and companies that have applied for the program
More than 500 military spouses have registered for a new paid fellowship program, applying to be placed with civilian companies seeking full-time employees.
The Military Spouse Career Accelerator Pilot program is free to employers, and spouses will be paid by the Defense Department during their 12-week fellowships.
It’s open to spouses of currently serving members of the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force and Space Force, to include active, reserve and National Guard components. Spouses can find information about how to apply at the Military OneSource Spouse Education and Career Opportunities website. MySECO has a variety of resources and programs to help spouses.
DoD officials announced the launch of the three-year pilot program Thursday, but registration opened for military spouses on Dec. 23. More than 800 spouses have initiated the first step of the registration process; of those, 500 have completed the registration, said DoD spokesman Army Maj. Charlie Dietz.
Military spouses typically move every two, three or four years, and their unemployment rate hovers around 21%, much higher than in the civilian community.
Companies interested in applying to participate can learn more and sign up on the Hiring Our Heroes website, in partnership with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation. Through Dec. 31, 25 employers had registered to participate in the pilot program, Dietz said.
DoD officials expect the first cohort of spouses will be placed with participating employers this month. The pilot program will run for three years and applications will be accepted throughout those three years. Employers can also apply to participate on a rolling basis throughout the length of the program.
Spouses who are accepted will participate in a 12-week paid fellowship program with training and mentoring. They’ll be placed with host companies that match their location, education and work experience, employer needs and other factors.
The goal is for the companies to directly hire the spouse. While there is no guarantee of future employment, the fellowship gives spouses the chance to show their skills and learn new ones.
The program “is a game changer for career-ready military spouses,” said Patricia Montes Barron, deputy assistant secretary of defense for military community and family policy, in an announcement. “The department has partnered with Hiring our Heroes to provide robust and meaningful fellowship placement that could lead to full-time employment.
“Military spouses have made it clear that meaningful employment is essential to their quality of life,” she said. “We hope this program provides them a strong start to solid employment opportunities.”
The new program benefits employers by giving them early access to a highly skilled and educated work force, officials stated in their announcement.
Karen has covered military families, quality of life and consumer issues for Military Times for more than 30 years, and is co-author of a chapter on media coverage of military families in the book "A Battle Plan for Supporting Military Families." She previously worked for newspapers in Guam, Norfolk, Jacksonville, Fla., and Athens, Ga.