Career Coaching – The Essentials

Two people discuss handout during a job fair

The Department of Defense Spouse Education and Career Opportunities program provides comprehensive coaching services free of charge to all eligible military spouses. Employment readiness specialists are also available at most installations to assist military spouses with many different employment-related issues, such as education, training and licensing, employment readiness, career connections and referrals to other services.

Explore these three options:


Spouse Education and Career Opportunities career coaches are ready to assist you in all areas of career exploration; education, training and licensing; career readiness; and career connections. They can help you identify skills, interests and aptitudes; coach you on networking; and direct you to training and education opportunities.

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Military Spouse Employment Partnership

The MSEP, which is a SECO initiative, connects employers with educated, trained and qualified people like you. Its 390-plus partner employers have hired more than 131,000 military spouses.

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Installation employment readiness specialists

Employment readiness specialists are available at most installations. They can help you with a wide range of employment-related areas through workshops, classes, small group instruction and one-on-one support. Each service has its own employment readiness program.

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Managing Your Career – The Essentials

woman on computer

Landing a job that accommodates military life is an accomplishment worth celebrating, and the real work comes with managing your career over time. Military OneSource offers tips on important logistics, such as transferring your professional licenses and certifications to another state or country, running a home business and taking advantage of the Military Spouse Preference program and other benefits available to military spouses.

Manage your career with these three steps:

Know how to transfer your professional license.

If you’re moving across the country or world, make sure your licenses and certifications pack up and travel with you for your next move. Depending on your work, state-sponsored reciprocal agreements can help reduce or eliminate the relicensing process. Visit your state’s employment office for more details.

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Negotiate for benefits.

When looking at job prospects, it is important to keep in mind total compensation – which includes all kinds of employee benefits – not just salary. When interviewing, be sure to negotiate for paid time off, health benefits, telecommuting, tuition reimbursement and retirement savings.

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Take advantage of the Military Spouse Preference in Employment.

Moving doesn’t have to disrupt your career, because as a military spouse you may get preference when you apply for Department of Defense civilian jobs. Learn more about the Military Spouse Preference program.

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Career Connections – The Essentials

Women at event talking

Military OneSource teaches military spouses how to build and sustain key relationships that lead to jobs, and directs them to programs such as the Military Spouse Employment Partnership, which includes more than 340 employer partners who have hired over 100,000 military spouses.

Start networking with these groups and events:

Career fairs

Career fairs provide a great opportunity for job seekers to meet with people from several companies in one location. Employers may be recruiting for specific job openings or giving information on future job opportunities. Look for job fairs exclusively for military spouses and watch out for college career and networking events for alumni and students that typically take place on campus.

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Chamber of commerce groups

Chamber of commerce groups hold regional events like mixers, workshops and fundraisers. For example, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation leads the Hiring Our Heroes initiative, which helps veterans and military spouses find work.

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Community service groups

Community service groups allow volunteers to staff fundraisers, where you might interact with hiring authorities. Don’t be afraid to work for free. Volunteering and interning are great ways to get your foot in the door, and it can be a great learning experience. The same is true for meetings, workshops and conferences for professional and trade associations.

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Connect With Employers Through the MSEP Job Search on MySECO

The Military Spouse Employment Partnership can connect you with employers worldwide who are interested in providing you with long-term meaningful employment opportunities.

Education, Training & Licensing – The Essentials

Woman with papers in hand listening to speaker

Going back to school as a military spouse is an investment in yourself, your career and your family’s future. Military OneSource provides useful tips as you take your first steps toward your educational goals or reinvigorating your career. You’ll find practical information, so you can put your best foot forward and prepare for your quest – whether it’s identifying your career goals or taking the final steps to obtain them.

Advance your educational goals with these steps:

Do a self-assessment.

Free Courses for Spouses

Military spouses, advance in your career with free access to the Udemy online learning platform through June 29, 2022.

Ask yourself these questions before filling out college applications: What are my career goals? What are my personal goals? What new opportunities can more schooling provide? What’s the job market like in my field? Is this the best time to go back to school?

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Choose a program.

Your career path will determine the type of education program you pursue. Certificate programs focus on specific skills. Associate degrees are two-year degrees focusing on entry-level specialization within a field. Four-year colleges or universities award a bachelor’s degree in the arts or sciences after completing about 40 classes. Degrees beyond the bachelor’s degree can include master’s, professional and doctoral degrees.

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Research licensing and certification.

If you’re about to move, find out which occupations and states require a license or certification. Consult the Career OneStop Licensed Occupations page that describes the profession, provides the name and address of the licensing agency and lists the types of licenses required. Occupations requiring licensing or certification include health care, education, real estate, child care and food services.

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Explore financial aid.

Paying for school can mean a mix of financial resources, from federal grants to military spouse scholarships. Whether you’re going to school for the first time or going back for an advanced degree, financial aid options can give you the freedom to focus on your future.

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Free, Confidential Face-to-Face Non-medical Counseling

Two soldiers talk

Sometimes strength means asking for help. Military OneSource and the Military and Family Life Counseling Program offer free, confidential, face-to-face non-medical counseling to support you with military and family life challenges like preparing for and handling a move or nurturing a relationship with a deployed spouse.

Contact Military OneSource 24/7.

You can get personalized help 365 days a year by telephone and online.

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Prefer to live chat? Start now.

In-person, free counseling sessions are available to active-duty, National Guard and reserve members of any activation status, their immediate family members and survivors. All counselors have a master’s or doctoral degree in a mental health field and a license to practice independently.

Here’s what you need to know to begin your free, face-to-face counseling sessions.

How does face-to-face non-medical counseling work?

  • You can schedule face-to-face non-medical counseling by calling a consultant at Military OneSource (800-342-9647). OCONUS/International? View calling options.
  • If the consultant determines the service is right for you, you will be authorized for up to 12 counseling sessions.
  • The consultant can put you in touch with a counselor that best suits your needs.
  • Once you get authorization for a face-to-face session, you have 30 days to schedule it.
  • If you’re not able to start your sessions within those 30 days, you can call Military OneSource to start over.
  • To speak with a military and family life counselor (Military and Family Life Counseling Program) contact your installation’s Military and Family Support Center.

Are face-to-face sessions confidential?

  • Information disclosed during a non-medical counseling session is confidential. It will not impact your career or your spouse’s career in any way.
  • The only exceptions to confidentiality are legal and military requirements to report child abuse, spouse abuse, elder abuse, threats of harm to self or others, and any present or future illegal activity.
  • Eligible family members or a legal guardian of a service member’s dependents can use non-medical counseling sessions without the service member’s knowledge.

Are children and youth eligible for face-to-face counseling?

  • Military OneSource offers face-to-face non-medical counseling for children and youth ages 6 to 17.
  • The service includes help with issues such as family relationships, school issues, adjustment to deployment or separation, and grief and loss.
  • A parent must attend each session for military children ages 6 to 12, but only the first session for youths ages 13 to 17.
  • Children younger than age 18 are eligible for counseling with a child and youth behavioral military and family life counselor with parental consent.
  • All military and family life counseling with children occurs within line of sight of another adult.

What kinds of issues are addressed in face-to-face, confidential non-medical counseling?

  • Improving relationships at home and work
  • Stress management
  • Adjustment and deployment concerns
  • Marital problems
  • Parenting
  • Grief or loss

What kinds of issues are not addressed in face-to-face confidential, non-medical counseling?

  • Active suicidal or homicidal thoughts: Call the Military Crisis Line at 800-273-8255, and press 1, chat online, or send a text message to 838255.
  • Sexual assault: Call the Safe Helpline at 877-995-5247, or start an online chat. In case of immediate danger, call 911.
  • Child abuse: Call the Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline at 800-4-A-CHILD (800-422-4453).
  • Domestic violence: Call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 800-799-SAFE (7233).
  • Alcohol and substance abuse: Counseling services are available through your installation and are free to service members and their families. You may also refer to the Army Substance Abuse Program, Marine Corps Substance Abuse Program, Navy Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention, and Air Force Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention and Treatment (ADAPT) Program.
  • Mental health conditions: Reach out to your military treatment facility, or contact TRICARE.

What if I need support for an issue that falls outside of non-medical counseling?

  • Military OneSource consultants can help you determine whether or not your issue falls under non-medical counseling.
  • If it doesn’t, they will help you find other resources, including community services, installation services or TRICARE, if appropriate.
  • You are strong and resilient. Now you need support. Learn how to better manage the stressors of military and family life by accessing confidential, face-to-face non-medical counseling sessions. Call 800-342-9647 or visit Military OneSource. OCONUS/International? View calling options.

How to Successfully Communicate as a Couple

Talking couple embrace

For service members, a loving, resilient marriage is both a matter of personal happiness and family readiness. When family relationships are strong and healthy, service members are free to focus on their mission and daily duty requirements. Like any good relationship, marriages take work and attention.

Communicating well is one of the most important skills any couple can have, and a key component of lasting, loving relationships. Working with your partner to learn and practice basic communication techniques can help you build trust and intimacy in your relationship.

Communication basics

Here are some tips that can help you improve your communication skills and build a strong relationship:

  • Make time to talk. Try to spend at least 15 minutes a day talking with each other. Put it on the calendar if you struggle to find the time.
  • Share your thoughts and feelings. Make an extra effort to share the things that matter to you most.
  • Be an active listener. Give each other your full attention, free of interruptions. Turn off the television, and let phone calls go to voicemail.
  • Show that you’re listening. Try repeating back what you heard through phrases such as, “So what you’re saying is …” or “If I understand you correctly, you feel …”
  • Offer frequent praise, support and encouragement. Studies show that couples who stay together make far more positive comments to each other than negative ones.
  • Strengthen your relationship through Love Every Day. Just one text a day for three weeks can open up your communication channels, build intimacy and rekindle the spark.
  • Pay attention to your body language. Uncross your arms, offer a smile, and make eye contact with your partner. If you’re really feeling into it, you can even lean in a bit when you talk.

Keep at it. Establishing good communication can take a lot of patience and hard work. The important thing is to make a commitment to change the way you communicate and work toward this goal.

Talking about difficult subjects

Every couple will need to talk about a difficult or painful subject at some point. These tips can make the conversation easier:

  • Talk at a stress-free time. Avoid bringing up a sensitive issue when either of you is tired, hungry or pressed for time. Avoid talking about some issues when children might overhear.
  • Keep your sense of humor. Using humor can break tension and help you connect through times of stress and pressure.
  • Bring up one difficult subject at a time. Raising a lot of sensitive issues in the same conversation can leave the other person feeling confused and defensive.
  • Make “I” statements. Be specific about how you feel. Express your feelings with neutral comments such as “I feel …” “I’m concerned that …” or “I’m worried that …” instead of phrases that put people on the defensive, such as “You never …” “You always …” or “You’re so …”
  • Talk about the issue, not who’s right or wrong. Focus on finding a solution instead of assigning blame.
  • Acknowledge the other person’s point of view. Make an effort to show you’re listening and understand, even if you don’t agree.
  • Take a break if needed. Take 15 minutes to be alone and calm down if your conversation becomes heated or you’re on the verge of saying things you’ll regret. Taking time out can help defuse a situation, but it will not resolve them. Commit to revisiting the issue when your emotions are under control.

When your partner won’t open up

Here are some more steps you can take if your partner has a hard time opening up or seems to tune you out.

  • Avoid making assumptions. You may think your partner doesn’t want to talk because he or she is angry or upset with you. However, there may be something else — like an incident at work — that’s upsetting your partner.
  • Consider your spouse’s family background. Serious conversations can turn into major arguments quickly in some families. Your partner may worry that you’ll become angry or even walk out if he or she speaks honestly — especially if your partner’s parents often acted this way.
  • Remember that it can be hard to open up. Your partner may be worried about feeling rejected if he or she expresses views honestly.

Counseling resources

Check out an example of a call center experience.

Hear an example of a call center experience

MilSpouse Toolkit

From education on military culture to navigating resources, this track is beneficial for new spouses who may be experiencing a disconnect from their family and need to identify a support system in their new community. This track focuses resources to assist new and current military spouses with adjustment to the military lifestyle, developing coping skills and resources for resiliency.

Help is available if you have ongoing difficulty communicating with your partner. You can strengthen your relationships through Military OneSource’s free, education-focused Building Healthy Relationships specialty consultation. You can access free, confidential, non-medical counseling services through Military OneSource or through the Military and Family Life Counseling Program — contact the program through your installation’s Military and Family Support Center.

MySTeP Supports Spouses Throughout Their Military Journey

Couple using tablet

Transition from military life to civilian life is a big deal, whether you serve for four years or 40. One of the keys to a smooth transition is preparation by both the service member and the spouse.

The Department of Defense recognizes the role of the spouse in a smooth military transition, and has developed a new tool, called the Military Spouse Transition Program, designed to bolster your military spouse success at each step of the journey, from the beginning to the end of your family’s military experience.

New Consultation for Service Member Transitions

The Department of Defense offers service members and recent veterans tailored assistance with the transition into civilian life through a new specialty consultation, called Transitioning Veterans.

Also called MySTeP, the program empowers spouses to understand and use the resources, benefits, programs and tools available throughout the military spouse experience. Hosted on the MySECO website, the self-directed MySTeP is broken down by three stages of the military spouse experience: Stepping In, Stepping Through and Stepping Beyond.

Stepping In

Stepping In is aimed at military spouses who are still learning what tools, programs and benefits are available through the military. These educational, financial and career resources help military spouses develop their personal and professional goals, and then guide them to the right programs to help meet those goals.

Topics include career development, education, training and licensing, financial readiness, and building professional and personal networks.

Stepping Through

Stepping Through is for spouses who are ready to expand on their knowledge and grow their personal and professional networks. It dives deeper into the resources and programs available to help spouses meet their personal, educational and career plans.

Specific topics covered include health and wellness, job hunting, PCS moves, educational opportunities, child care, financial readiness and career advancement.

Stepping Beyond

Stepping Beyond is for spouses whose service member is actively preparing for transition to civilian life. Stepping Beyond helps military families identify the challenges in their transition process and make an informed transition plan to overcome any potential obstacles. Pre-transition topics include post-military benefits, health care, finances and transition training.

Because MySTeP is available online and available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, it can be a valuable supplement to the transition services available through your branch’s Transition GPS program. Like other Military OneSource services, eligibility for SECO services ends one year – 365 days – after military service ends.

Visit the MySECO website to explore the MySTeP program. Share the news about MySTeP with your friends, no matter where they are on their military voyage. There is something in MySTeP for every military spouse.

All three stages of the program are supported with personalized guidance from Military OneSource. Call 800-342-9647 or start a Live Chat to speak to a SECO career coach about your family’s military transition. OCONUS/International? View calling options.

What You Need to Know About Marrying Into the Military

Sailor proposes to his girlfriend during a homecoming arrival

If you are marrying a service member, congratulations. You are about to join an elite community of people who have committed to serve their country in a profound and meaningful way. You’re on track to grow stronger and more self-assured and meet remarkable people and lifelong friends.

Make no mistake, military spouses are a vital part of the military itself, playing a major role in keeping service members happy, healthy and ready to serve.

Here are some things to know as you begin your journey as a military spouse:

Military marriages come with benefits.

As a military spouse, you have access to career and education support, non-medical counseling, financial benefits and much more. All free and available 24/7.

Many military benefits and resources are available to spouses.

There is no military spouse pay or stipend, but the military offers a number of benefits to help service members and their families. Your first stop after the wedding should be the nearest military ID card issuing facility to enroll in DEERS, the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System.

Once enrolled, you can access military benefits, including health care and health insurance.

Other benefits include:

You will spend time apart from your new spouse.

The military is not a job in the traditional sense. Service members are honor-bound to complete their duty, even when their responsibilities conflict with family time.

  • In addition to deployments, service members often are assigned to shift work, unconventional hours, temporary duty stations, training programs and other responsibilities that take them away from home.
  • Service members often work on important holidays and life events; they may even miss the birth of their children or have to leave very soon after they are born.

Keep your service member’s feelings in mind as you begin your married life together. Striking a balance between duty and family may be more difficult than a new spouse expects. The call to duty is not personal; a military couple can grow stronger keeping that in mind.

Find out about military traditions, protocols and more.

The military is full of traditions, protocols and rules. Some military protocols are steeped in tradition and meaning; some are fun; and others keep your service member safe and ready for duty.

There are rules about public displays of affection, social media posts, base security, standing for the national anthem and taps, and more. Here are some examples:

  • If you see a movie on base, be ready to stand for the national anthem before the previews.
  • If you need to run errands at the commissary, you may have an armed guard check under your car with a mirror while on your way.
  • You may learn something or take a picture that you cannot post on social media like Facebook.

There are also special ceremonies for promotion, branch- or rank-specific rites of passage, and lots of opportunities to show your military pride. As you plan your wedding, be sure to learn about military wedding traditions you may want to incorporate into the ceremony.

You can find funding for your education and career support.

Most military spouses work; and no matter where you are in your education or career path, support and scholarships are available for military spouses who want to find a job, get promoted or head back to school.

Many military spouses choose to pursue careers that can move with them if necessary. Making your career portable means developing the skills and training and getting the licenses, degrees and certifications that employers want in high-growth, high-demand fields and occupations. Popular “portable careers” include teaching and child care, nursing, event planning, engineering and customer service.

Military spouses qualify for programs that make it easier to find federal jobs and positions on military bases. Other programs also offer scholarships and financial help to pay for college, certifications and other trainings. The Spouse Education and Career Opportunities Program is a great place to learn about your options.

The military community has your back.

There are a number of official resources to help you achieve your best military life, including:

In addition, there are a number of unofficial support systems including Facebook groups, meetups and more. Some commands have very developed spouse networks, while others are less active. Either way, you must be proactive if you wish to meet people. Your new spouse will likely be your best resource as you look for ways to join their military community.

Your significant other has already made a major, life-altering commitment – to serve their country. Before you tie the knot, it’s important to understand some of the ways and available resources to help you embrace marriage, and military life.

Spouse Education and Employment – The Essentials

Woman smiles, while others work in the background

As a military spouse, you have access to numerous resources that can help you achieve your education and career goals, whether they be finishing an undergraduate degree, pursuing a training certificate or landing a new job. Here are some of the essential tools and programs that can assist you in pursuing your degree and succeeding at work:

Spouse Education and Career Opportunities Program

The Spouse Education and Career Opportunities program, or SECO, from the Department of Defense, was created specifically for military spouses — to connect you with tools, including education and training help, career counseling and exploration, and much more. You’ll find practical tools to help you advance in your career no matter what stage you’re in.

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Military Spouse Employment Partnership

If you’re looking for a job, check out the Military Spouse Employment Partnership, or MSEP. It’s a part of SECO and offers the robust MSEP Job Search on MySECO that connects employers with educated, trained and qualified people like you. This tool has thousands of job listings and features hot jobs and participating partners.

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Military OneSource Education Consultations

Military OneSource education consultants can answer all your education-related questions, as well as provide referrals to essential services. This includes guidance on financial aid, scholarships, tutoring and other education information.

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Military Spouse eMentor Community

The Military Spouse eMentor Community is an online community connecting military spouses with career mentors for guidance and support. You can also connect with representatives of military spouse-friendly firms that serve as educational and career mentors. An initiative of the Military Spouse Employment Partnership, the program provides helpful interactions between experienced military spouses and those looking for support or direction.

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Installation Employment Readiness Programs

Employment readiness specialists are available at most installations to assist you at no cost with issues related to education and employment, including career exploration, education, training and licensing, employment readiness and career connections.

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Military Spouses: Find Support From a Peer

Two women in a coffee shop lifting coffee mugs to cheers.

Attention military spouses: Whether you’re new to the military community or a seasoned spouse, we can all find some solace in talking with a peer who has been there/done that.

That’s where Military OneSource’s peer-to-peer specialty consultations come in – a free resource you’ll want to add as a “favorite” contact on your phone.

Peer consultants are veterans and military spouses who can:

  • Answer questions about military culture and life
  • Provide installation and community-based resources and make three-way calls with you on the line
  • Offer supportive listening and coaching.

Why request a session with a peer consultant?

Everyone can benefit from talking with someone who really gets it. Peer consultants provide a helping hand and a shoulder to lean on from the perspective of someone who has walked a similar path as a military spouse. As trusted members of the military community, peer consultants connect you to other spouses and members of the community. Reasons to consider a peer-to-peer specialty consultation include:

  • You’re a new spouse who could use some help understanding all the military acronyms and lingo, or navigating the waters of military life.
  • You recently moved to a new duty station and could use a sympathetic ear until you find your new group of friends.
  • Your spouse is deployed; you want someone to talk to about your concerns, how to address questions from family members or what the best tools are for a smooth reunion.
  • Your service member is about to retire or separate; you have questions about the transition and the best ways to support your spouse.
  • You need a little help with communication and sustaining a healthy military marriage.
  • You need information on military services, benefits, programs and supportive resources.

Peer consultants can also connect you with Military OneSource services such as financial counseling, spouse education and employment, non-medical counseling and more.

There is no limit to the number of sessions you can have with your peer consultant or the issues you can address with them. Contact Military OneSource today at 800-342-9647. Living OCONUS? View calling options or use our convenient live chat feature. Excel as a military spouse. Connect with a peer consultant today.