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Programs help spouses overcome unemployment

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- Being a member of a military family requires sacrifices. Families are often separated from relatives, move every few years and deal with the stress of deployments -- all of this combines to make it hard for spouses to find employment or maintain a career.

In May 2011, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate was 9.1 percent nationally, and 9.3 percent in Colorado.

For military spouses, the unemployment rate was 26 percent in 2010, three times higher than the national average, according to a survey done by Blue Star Families.

It's not because military spouses are under qualified. Beverly Price, Airmen and Family Readiness Center community readiness consultant says it's actually the opposite.

"Air Force spouses usually are pretty educated," said Price. This leads to spouses taking entry level positions or having trouble finding work because they are over qualified for what's on the market.

For military spouses who are seeking employment, help is out there.

The Air Force recently partnered with the Military Spouse Employment Program, which has been running for several years partnered through the Army. Price said the program is a portal where military friendly employers post jobs so that spouses can access them all in one location. The portal is available through the Military One Source website.

Being a partner means that employers are sensitive to the potential needs of a military family including a change in schedule in case of deployment or relocation.

"I think one of the biggest barriers for spouses is when you move to a new environment it's hard to be able to plug into the network to see what's here in town and what's available," said Price.

In addition to the new MSEP partnership, the A&FRC is hosting a two-day Career Tracks seminar for military spouses, Aug. 3 and 4, to help spouses launch their careers and network in the community.

"We try to get them to focus on what their skills and interests are," said Price.

Attendees will have the opportunity during the seminar to present themselves to a panel of local employers as a networking tool.

"What's good about [the employer's] role is, even if they don't have current opportunities, they might know other companies that do," she said. "Bottom line, people want to help people but they're not going to know to help you if you're not asking for assistance," said Price.

Anyone interested in the seminar should call the A&FRC at 556-6141 by July 29 to reserve a space.

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