Today’s military spouses want it all—a loving home and marriage, strong and resilient children, educational opportunities, meaningful community volunteer work, and portable careers—all in the context of frequent moves and extended deployments throughout their service member’s military career.
To address their unique combination of work-life interests and priorities, the Department of Defense (DoD) has established a comprehensive, holistic, spouse-centered program called SECO: Spouse Education and Career Opportunities. It is part of DoD’s commitment to overall spouse health and well-being.
SECO recognizes that spouses make important decisions every day regarding home and work life. When the time is right for more education, training, licensure, employment, and portable career advancement opportunities, SECO is just a call or click away.
SECO has four pillars of service delivery that help spouses move in and out of the workforce at various ages and stages of life.
Pillar #1: Career Exploration
In order to find satisfying work in portable career fields and related occupations that are available in their new community, it is important for spouses to understand themselves.
- SECO provides career counseling services six days a week through specialty consultations with master’s level subject matter experts available at 1-800-342-9647.
- Specialty consultants help spouses identify career interests, aptitudes, skills, knowledge levels, personality type, and core values that are matched to different types of employment.
- Specialty consultants also provide information about today’s job market and work options such as full-time and part-time work, seasonal work, telecommuting, virtual work, job sharing, own-your-own business, and federal employment with emphasis on Military Spouse Preference, Priority Placement, and Special Hiring Authorities that spouses should ask for.
Pillar #2: Education, Training, and Licensure
Many portable career fields have training, education, and licensure requirements that differ across state lines. To ease the burden for military spouses, SECO offers a variety of support services and resources.
- SECO education and career counseling services and consumer awareness assistance are available at 1-800-342-9647. These services help spouses identify and compare potential schools and select one that is affordable and provides the education, training, and credentials that employers want to see on a resume.
- My Career Advancement Account (MyCAA) scholarships are available to eligible spouses, valued at up to $4,000.
- Referrals to education financial assistance are available for all spouses, regardless of MyCAA eligibility (e.g., Pell Grants or Post 9/11 Education Benefits Transfer).
- The state licensure initiative encourages all fifty states to adopt best practices and model legislation that allows spouses to work in their profession in a new state while they work towards meeting new state licensing requirements.
Pillar #3: Employment Readiness
Employment readiness services are provided by SECO consultants (1-800-342-9647) and military installation employment readiness specialists. They help spouses prepare to join or re-enter the workforce in each new duty location.
- Spouses can get help with resume writing, interview skill building, dressing for success, the job application process, job search strategies, using the Internet and job boards, and finding child care and transportation resources.
- MilSpouse eMentoring services are available to help connect spouses with more experienced military spouses, career mentors, and military spouse-friendly employers.
- Contact information for installation employment readiness personnel can be found on MilitaryINSTALLATIONS.
Pillar #4: Career Connections
There are many private sector employers and government organizations that are actively searching for military spouses to join their 21st century workforces. These organizations want the skills, knowledge, credentials, and attributes that military spouses have to offer. Contrary to advice given decades ago, career counselors today are urging spouses to identify themselves as military spouses in their job application packages, on their resumes, and through networking contacts. Saying “I’m a military spouse” makes it easier for recruiters to find military spouses, especially through widely promoted resources.
Whether it’s getting a scholarship to head back to school or finding a meaningful, portable career opportunity, SECO is designed to help military spouses reach all of their education and career goals.