This post was originally posted on LinkedIn Pulse in 2015. Unfortunately, many of the employment challenges discussed have yet to be effectively alleviated within the military community. It’s my hope that through continued advocacy and awareness, military spouses and caregivers will be economically valued and no longer discriminated against in the competitive job market.
Did you know that a sector of the military community is 90% jobless or underemployed?
Did you know this sector earns 38% less than their civilian counterparts?
Did you know that even those with doctorate experience unemployment of 15.56%?
Meet the Military Spouse: a dedicated individual that pledges loyalty and devotion to the brave men and women in uniform. The military spouse commits to frequent relocation, spouse absence for months to years at a time, foregoing professional opportunities that conflict with service demands, and is often left to pick up the pieces where subpar government programs leave off.
Sixteen years. That’s how long it’s been since the terrorist attacks of September 11th that set into motion the cascade of events now known as the Great Recession and Global War on Terror.
Both my husband and I woke up early. While the morning looks like just like the start of any other brilliant day, it’s far from it. We talked about how things would have been different if 9-11 hadn’t happened – our friends that would still be alive, the careers that would have manifested, the wounds of war that we wouldn’t have to live with day in and day out.
I go for a run. I run whenever the realities of life after war cloud my mind. Closed casket military funerals. Jam packed VA Hospital waiting rooms. 87 percent divorce rates for OEF/OIF combat officers. Suicide after suicide after suicide. Veteran caregiver groups filled with sobbing spouses who are literally at their wit’s end.
I run another mile. We’d have a house full of kids by now if it wasn’t for the war. He’d be coming up on a promotion if it hadn’t been for those damn IEDs. I’d never have to sit through another VA suicide prevention class. Our lives as a peacetime military family would have been almost-normal by civilian standards.
My spouse led over 100 combat mission on one deployment. His platoon was responsible for route clearance, meaning they cruised the Afghan roads hunting improvised explosive devices (IEDs) with (sometimes) functioning equipment. He detonated explosive devices day in and day out; the things others avoided (IEDs) he went looking for.
When he was out on a mission, I was in a constant state of panic. I’d spend my lunch hour throwing up in the ladies’ restroom. I’d start crying hysterically when attending a civilian social event. I hated days he was “running the roads”.