Report: Improving Spouse Employment Programs


A new government report says what we’ve suspected all along — that the DoD is duplicating efforts among spouse employment programs and, by and large, cannot prove that their military spouse employment help is working.

The report talks about how two programs — the employment help offered on installations and the career center via Military OneSource — often duplicate their efforts and confuse both users and program managers. It also details how three programs — MyCAA, MSEP and the Military OneSource career center — cannot show to the Government Accountability Office’s satisfaction exactly how impactful their services are and how many spouses land jobs as a result.

You can check out my story for all the details on exactly what this means to the programs and what the DoD’s response is.

In my story I talk about the improvements the GAO recommends for both making sure the programs are doing what they should do (get spouses jobs) and what the GAO needs to do to make sure Military OneSource (which, according to the report, has literally no way to tell whether or not their program helps anyone get any kind of job ever) and installation career counseling offices aren’t doing the exact same thing.

But let’s laser-beam focus on one facet of this: that we are still (and forever will be, I’m afraid), debating between  programs that cost money but do the exact same things.

Who among us hasn’t been confused about which very-similar-sounding program they should contact for a problem, only to get there and be referred out to the other program … only to go there and be sent back where we started?

The report details the benefits of the in-person services (holds job fairs, workshops, hands-on resume help, etc.) and those of the online/call center (available outside business hours, helps those who dont live near installations, the counselors specialize in career help, etc.) It also talks about the problems of the programs — that information provided by in-person counselors varies widely base-to-base and that the online program is difficult to even find at all (in fact, it took me some serious digging to find the page for this story. Googling “military spouse career center” didn’t bring up Military OneSource at all. It brought up!).

In case you are confused and thinking “I didn’t even know my base HAD a career help center,” here is a little graphic courtesy of GAO to explain what each service calls there’s so you can go look for it.

The report recommends that the programs work together to make sure they aren’t doing the same thing, but I ask you: wouldn’t it just be easier to eliminate the in-person counselors all together? Downsize that staff, have general counselors point consistently to Military OneSource. Why not do what the Tricare office does? When I walk in there with a question about coverage, they point me to a wall of phones where I simply call the 800 number. That seems simple enough, right?

What do you think? Is the solution to the information duplication and confusion to simply eliminate one of the services?

About the Author

Amy Bushatz
Amy is the editor in chief of’s spouse and family blog A journalist by trade, Amy also covers spouse and family news for where she is the managing editor of spouse and family content. An Army wife and mother of two, Amy has been featured as a subject matter expert on, NPR, Fox News, NBC, CBS, ABC and BBC as well as in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and Washington Post. Follow her on twitter @amybushatz.
  • bmd

    Disagree about eliminating either program. Sometimes you are located in an area where the person with the most knowledge about jobs in that area will be the person on the base actually living in that area, not a random person living who knows where or an online program. Although I can see that if you weren’t near a base you would need an online service.
    I agree the programs are redundant many times and not always helpful; however, eliminating one over the other is not necessarily the answer.
    A spouse currently trying to use these programs to find a job after a PCS

    • Amy_Bushatz

      That’s a totally legit concern. So maybe the solution is to downsize the on-site staff (to eliminate redundancies … and refer most of the non-on-site-reqiuired workload to the call center), and in the process make sure the ones that are hired do, in fact, know the area and can do the job. Because from what I’ve heard that is not always the case :-)

    • Steve Newman

      Why is healthcare for military families and veterans NOT tested safe or licensed healthcare? Why are soldiers who work in these MOS’s, in the medical field blocked from being tested safe and then licensed? They want licensed and do the same job as civilian medical staff who must be licensed. By states laws if you work in the medical field without a license it can mean a prison sentence of 1 to 5 years for practicing without a license. Are military families unworthy of equality, patient rights, tested, licensed healthcare? Just as important is the question why block veterans from obtaining fair license? Soldiers who do the same job for years but soldiers and veterans are prevented from testing safe and licensing them? This lower level of healthcare, two opposite standards causes discrimination, lower classification of citizenship, questionable safe healthcare for one group/ military families! Example- Army, Navy, Coast Guard, Physical Therapist specialist/Assistant. I just feel special interest groups and self interest created lower class citizenship. Groups like the APTA, Pentagon, APTA schools, Licensing boards, ect. block with self interest jobs, equality, safe healthcare and disrespect military families and those who deserve fair licensing and jobs.

  • Pauline Miller

    The State of New Jersey has just signed a Bill allowing Military Spouses to be able to apply for a temporary nursing license for 6 months, renewable for one year. This will cut down on the red tape for nurses moving with their husbands to this State.

  • Concerned MilSpouse

    Most government programs are useless and we allow them to be. We should demand they give programs that are actually structured to meet needs successfully and there are many good programs for military spouses out there that are successful in employment that could help, however the government refuses to work with these programs and keeps throwing money at failed programs. MyCAA, MSEP and Military One Source just went to contract for over 150 million to a contractor who is a staffing agent…you tell me how that is going to give us a successful assist. They should have sought help from within our community but instead they will continue programs that do not help and we continue to allow it.