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Program expands employment opportunities for military spouses

Date Posted: 5/16/2006

By Margaret McKenzie
USACFSC Public Affairs

ALEXANDRIA, Va. – Twenty-two military spouses from Fort Hood, Texas, are participating in a major computer manufacturer’s work-from-home program – an outgrowth of the Army Spouse Employment Partnership.

Dell Inc., based in Austin, Texas, has been a partner company of the ASEP program since October 2003. As part of the ASEP program, Dell officials have collaborated with Fort Hood officials to increase employment opportunities and resources for Army spouses.

A pilot program – conducted between May and November 2005 – employed four Fort Hood military spouses who completed training as customer representatives at Dell’s Round Rock facility. Its success led to the recent expansion of the program.

“The goal is to expand the program to about 200 more people based on the needs of the business,” said Frank Miller, vice president for Fulfillment Operations at Dell. “We took a different approach from the traditional one. We took the jobs to the spouses in a local work-from-home pilot with Fort Hood because it was close to Austin and it was very successful.”

Dell’s work-from-home program allows military spouses the opportunity to work for and stay with a large corporation through the frequent moves inherent in the military lifestyle.

“It is really nice to be able to stay in the Killeen area while still working for a major corporation,” said Tracy Linsley, a business unit sales support representative for Dell and a military spouse. “It gives spouses the ability to take our jobs with us when we have to do a change of station and allows us to build a career with a large corporation.”

Other ASEP partners are also creating programs to help military spouses maintain a career through frequent moves. The Army and Air Force Exchange Service has initiated a Spouse Continuity Program for military spouses.

“This effort offers non-competitive priority placement to eligible AAFES associates who are spouses of military members required to relocate with their sponsor,” said Judd C. Anstey, spokesman for AAFES. “Spouses are assigned to jobs as positions become available before these positions are posted.”

The Spouse Continuity Program is a one-year test that started in February and applies to spouses who relocate to or within the continental United States. Depending on the results, the program could be expanded worldwide.

The Army Spouse Employment Partnership, now in its third year, was developed to provide Army Spouses with increased employment and career opportunities.

Partners of the ASEP program pledge their best efforts to increase employment opportunities for Army spouses and resources for corporate America and to facilitate the employment of Army spouses to the mutual benefit of the Army and corporations. The partners also pledge to publicize the agreement throughout their companies.

This initiative began in May 2002 when then Army Chief of Staff Gen. Eric K. Shinseki directed the U.S. Army Community and Family Support Center to establish and enhance collaborative partnerships with public and private sector companies to create career and training opportunities for military spouses.

Congress is committing to helping improve the opportunities of military spouses as well.

Rep. John Carter (R-Texas) introduced legislation in April that will assist military spouses in obtaining quality employment. The Military Spouses Employment Act will provide employers a tax incentive to hire them.

“I am pleased to introduce legislation that will help improve the quality of life for military families while enhancing the business communities that the surround military,” Carter said in a written statement. “The tax incentive will give our devoted military spouses greater access to quality jobs. Statistics show that military spouses traditionally earn less than civilians despite higher graduation rates and living in areas with better paying jobs. It is my hope that this incentive will bring jobs to military communities and level the playing field for qualified employees who happen to be military spouses.”

According to the release, The Military Spouses Employment Act will expand the Workforce Opportunity Tax Credit to include military spouses, providing employers a tax incentive to hire them.

Carter said he hoped the tax incentive would allow for additional win-win partnerships like the recently expanded program between Dell and Fort Hood.

For more information on the Army Spouse Employment Partnership, visit www.myarmylifetoo.com.







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