Transition Council Launches Spouse Employment Initiative - Veterans Employee Resource Group

Transition Council Launches Spouse Employment Initiative

If you are not already familiar with the Washington State Military Transition Council (WSMTC), it was established in the same executive order that created the VERG. However, instead of focusing only on state government, the WSMTC focuses on veteran and military family employment across the entire state.

Consisting of leaders from state and federal agencies, military installations, and other non-profit partners, the WSMTC Executive Committee gets together each year and establishes priorities for collaborative work. Last year the Executive Committee endorsed creation of an on-base American Job Center, resulting in creation of WorkSource JBLM. This year the Executive Committee endorsed two strategic priorities: support for military spouse employment and professional development, and portability of licenses and professional certifications for both veterans and military spouses.

Now that the Department of Defense is focusing again on recruitment and retention, most of our state, federal, and local partners have begun putting additional resources and time towards supporting the entire military family. Many service members choose to leave because the military lifestyle gets in the way of their spouse pursuing their professional goals. Also, many hiring managers have a bias against spouses who they perceive to be unreliable due to gaps in their work history or frequent moves. The lack of dual-incomes makes it very difficult for many service members to continue in the armed forces.

In October 2018, workgroups were formed around the two WSMTC strategic priorities. The spouse employment group will initially focus on (1) improving military spouse access to employment and career information; and (2) obtaining better data on the number of military spouses in the labor market. Long term efforts will focus on strategies to improve access to childcare and flexible work, and develop resources for employers to become more ‘military-spouse friendly.’ The license and certificate portability group will also initially focus on improving spouse access to license and certificate information, as well as identifying which licenses, certificates, and other credentials are most valuable to veterans and military spouses. Long term, this groups will work on developing and sharing best practices between agencies to streamline and expedite licenses and certifications.

In addition to the work of the WSMTC, we are also partnering with the US Chamber Foundation on their Military Spouse Economic Empowerment Zone (MSEEZ) initiative. ‘Zones’ are an employer driven partnership to expand military spouse employment opportunities. Washington State was the first statewide zone endorsed by the Chamber back in June 2018, and Olympia and Spokane quick followed suit in September. We also anticipate future zones in Bremerton, Everett, and Tri-Cities. The Statewide Zone will serve as an umbrella to support local efforts, and each local zone will identify regional career clusters or ‘pillars’ around which to develop spouse employment initiatives. At its launch event in September, the Olympia MSEEZ identified five pillars: government, tribal enterprises, information technology, health care, and retail/hospitality/tourism. The Spokane MSEEZ identified three pillars: public service & education, healthcare, and professional services. Each pillar has its own workgroup of employers and community partners who will collaborate on developing military spouse employment strategies.

Moving into 2019, there will be many opportunities for state agencies and other partners to participate in WSMTC and MSEEZ efforts. If you are not already connected, please contact Mark Sullivan at We look forward to working with you in 2019!