Imagine you are sitting in a job interview. You and your family recently moved to the area after your spouse received relocation orders. You had to leave your former job because you could not work remotely. The interviewer asks you about a few gaps in your resume and you explain the gaps are due to relocations. The interviewer realizes you are a military spouse and says, “I just can’t afford to hire someone who will have to move in two years.”
This scenario is common for military spouses. However, the landscape is changing thanks to leaders in the workforce such as the Board of Veterans Appeals (Board).
On November 13th, the Board received the 2019 Hiring Our Heroes Military Spouse Employment and Mentoring Award. The award recognized the Board’s commitment to hiring and supporting military spouses. Other nominees included Walmart, Lockheed Martin, and B.E.A.T. LLC.
Encouraging military spouse employment within the federal government has been a top priority for the Board. In July, it signed a Memorandum of Agreement with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Hiring Our Heroes. The Board signed the memorandum on behalf of VA to share best practices for hiring and retaining military spouses throughout the federal government.
A military spouse herself, Chairman Cheryl Mason understands the struggles that military spouses face. She observes that, “[T]rying to find employment as a military spouse twenty years ago was not easy. You did what you had to do in order to support your spouse, even if that meant going from a GS-13 to a GS-6 during a relocation.”
Assets to the federal workforce
The Chairman is working across the enterprise to ensure that military spouses are given more opportunities than ever before. She recommends that all employers and military spouses join DOD’s Military Spouse Employment Partnership (MSEP).
The Board is showcasing that military spouses are an asset to the federal workforce and that there are simple ways to keep military spouses employed despite frequent relocations. For example, the Board offers remote and telework options to provide military spouses with the flexibility they need.
Claire Davidoski began work as an attorney at the Board in July of 2017. Her spouse is an active duty Marine. Prior to joining the Board, Davidoski and her family had moved three times in seven years. These moves made it hard for her to pursue a successful legal career. Now that she is employed by the Board, she has the flexibility she needs to achieve success in the federal government. Shortly after beginning work at the Board in Washington D.C., Davidoski’s husband received orders to move to Camp Lejeune, N.C. Without skipping a beat, Davidoski was able to get remote status, and continued working for the Board from North Carolina.
“For the first time ever, I have an employer who sees my military spouse status as a strength rather than a liability,” she said.
This award symbolizes the massive changes underway for military spouse employment in the federal government, and this is just the beginning! If you are a military spouse, we at VA know the struggles that you face and the value you bring to the workplace. For more information about the Board of Veterans Appeals, please visit: https://www.bva.va.gov/