MSEJ November 2018 - Page 24

The National Conference of State Legislature (NCSL) shared a report this year on spouses, noting that 92% are women, and 13% of those women have served. These statistics add nuance to the existing conversations about military spouse employment, which has come to the forefront this year. Although great strides still need to be made when it comes to employer education and military spouse employment in

general, the IVMF’s study also adds a missing dimension to the military spouse picture: the growing number of spouses who are prior-service.

My curiosity about this topic has only grown since I left the service and became a spouse. In recent months, my thoughts have been shaped by my own work in veteran employment, the IVMF’s new statistics, and a recent conversation I shared with Amanda Crowe, a Spouse Employment Coordinator for Hiring Our Heroes. Crowe told me that “Being a veteran and military spouse, I feel like I am constantly providing a validation to my identity. I don’t ever want to be “just a spouse” to the veteran crowd, but I also don’t want spouses to think I don’t understand what they are experiencing.”

When it comes to military life, it’s never been easy to know where the professional ends and the personal begins, and for a prior-service spouse, that division becomes even more intertwined.

Dr. Vivian Greentree, a Navy veteran, military spouse, and Senior Vice President, Head of Corporate Citizenship at First Data Corporation, describes being military-affiliated as “hav[ing] experienced being part of something larger than yourself—the service member and their spouses’ and families’ sacrifice.” When you are a part of this system, Dr. Greentree maintains, “that kind of connection to service, sacrifice, and integrity and steadfastness in the face of fear and constant challenges is so binding.”

For prior-service spouses, we are bound to more than one circle of people.

In this balancing act of connections, it’s hard to know which one should be at the forefront on a given day. When I apply for a job or go through my resume, my work history includes the fact that I’m a veteran, but any employment gaps are due to my status as a military spouse. When I speak at events, which identity takes precedence? Does leaving one facet of my relationship to the military out of my bio mean that it matters less, or that it just isn’t relevant to the situation?

N.d. USS Chancellorville's Cruisebook. Great Lakes: Walsworth, 2001. N. pag. Print.