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In her 8 years with Booz Allen, Tracy Freedman has moved three times—with another relocation on the horizon. She’s just not sure where.
Married to a Marine, Tracy is all too familiar with the stress and uncertainty surrounding relocation. “Every time there’s been that concern ‘will I keep my job?’ and every move has had its unique challenges,” says Tracy, a digital strategist. She is also an advisor on our Military Spouse Forum, which is dedicated to supporting families like her own.
“If military life came with a GPS, all it would say is ‘recalculating.'”
The forum, which Tracy helped standup in 2013, supports spouses facing a permanent change of station, relocation, deployment, and a host of other common stressors associated with military life. It now boasts a dedicated human resources representative and active mentoring circles. But the biggest issue the forum seeks to conquer—with the support of Booz Allen—is career mobility, through our own practices and thought leadership in the community.
“The military spouse community is one of the most overeducated and underemployed in our country. Their unemployment rate is at least four times the nation’s average,” says Tracy.
Even when a spouse finds work, it often fails to meet his or her qualifications—a situation exacerbated by constant moves. Ultimately, this forces military spouses into a pattern of retooling below their level of education and expertise.
Cathy Breeze, Military Spouse Forum executive sponsor who also helps lead our work with the Department of Homeland Security, likens the plight of a military spouse to that of a roving GPS device: “If military life came with a GPS, all it would say is ‘recalculating.’”
Many jobs aren’t easily transferable—nurses, lawyers, practitioners who undergo state licensing for example. “By the time you get settled, you’re moving again,” says Cathy, a Navy veteran and former Air Force military spouse.
Recent data drives this point home. Studies show nearly 40 percent of military spouses are currently underemployed. Spouses with advanced degrees also earn up to 47 percent less than their peers.
This is precisely why Booz Allen is leading the way in military spouse hiring and retention. We recognize the value this community brings to the workforce, and we’re committed to helping them identify opportunities internally and potential remote work options.
Our approach starts with education.
In the last few years, our Military Spouse Forum relied on their collective ingenuity—developing extensive aids for the firm’s hiring managers, recruiters, and location general managers to help them understand the value a military spouse brings to Booz Allen.
And once hired, we ensure there is a framework of support.
“We connect them with a broader network, and help enable opportunities when they’re looking at military reassignments—whether it’s client work in a specific geography or other jobs with a virtual support element,” explains Cathy.
We’re also working with nonprofit and corporate partners to create a network of employers to share best practices, ensuring their talented military spouse employees continue employment through their moves. “We want to figure out a mechanism to share staff and resumes for the benefit of keeping our military spouses careers intact,” says Cathy.
In fact, in recognition of our efforts to help military spouses develop and maintain a career at Booz Allen, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s recently awarded us the Hiring Our Heroes Military Spouse Employment and Mentoring Award during the Hiring Our Heroes’ annual awards gala at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Hall of Flags on November 1.
And, as we all know, forward momentum isn’t possible without thoughtful discussion.
That’s the goal of the third annual Supporting Military Employment & Keeping Our Country #MilFamStrong, an event comprised of two panel discussions. Sponsored by the Military Spouse Forum, the event includes internal and external panelists as well as representatives from companies also dedicated to military spouse employment. The discussion will revolve around military family hiring and retention best practices, and is open to all employees and the global military family community.
“Where does it work? What are the challenges, and what can we do to help? That’s the objective,” says Cathy of the #MilFamStrong event. Ultimately, we hope to break down employment barriers and address common frustrations, plus debunk the “myth that you can’t have a career—just jobs,” adds Tracy.
Booz Allen’s people-focused culture is a cornerstone of our history and how we’re able to create an amazing workplace. Learn more by exploring our current openings.