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Military Spouses Get Federal Hiring Preference

By Ed O'Keefe

These smoochers may soon benefit from a new federal hiring authority that helps military spouses get federal jobs. (Getty)

Federal agencies will soon have the option of hiring certain military spouses without having them compete for jobs, under new guidelines issued by the Obama administration Wednesday.

The guidelines apply to the spouses of military service members relocating for new assignments, some physically disabled spouses, and those whose husband or wife was killed in the line of duty. They will be able to apply for a federal job and ask that recruiters allow them to bypass the traditional hiring process.

The Office of Personnel Management published the guidelines Wednesday in the Federal Register.

"This family-friendly policy provides employment opportunities for individuals and a measure of economic stability to military families who must deal with a multitude of issues arising from one spouse serving their country," OPM Director John Berry said in a statement.

It is unclear which federal agencies will use the optional hiring authority when it takes effect next month. Hundreds of thousands of spouses could potentially benefit, since roughly half of the 400,000 to 500,000 active-duty service members restationed each year are married, according to the Pentagon.

“There is a desire out there, and we know that if we can meet the spouses’ desires and keep them happy, then we’ll keep them in the service,” said Pentagon spokesman Lt. Col. Les Melnyk. Not every spouse wants or needs a job, he said, but he noted that military surveys suggest that 70 percent of them want to work.

By Ed O'Keefe  | August 12, 2009; 5:40 PM ET
Categories:  Workplace Issues  
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Is this preference available to Foreign Service spouses? It should be open to spouses of all career federal employees subject to world-wide deployment at the needs of their service.

It is time to recognize that our Foreign Service families make significant sacrifices, with no bases and minimal support infrastructure. Foreign Service spouses also sacrifice career for the good of country. A federal hiring preference should be extended to diplomatic spouses too.

Posted by: MEppinger | August 12, 2009 6:41 PM | Report abuse

Great idea. There isn't anything else that should be said about this. Other than, it's about time. And the republicans are pukes for not doing this first.

Posted by: LiberalBasher | August 12, 2009 7:46 PM | Report abuse

I can't wait for the first same-sex military spouse to apply.

Posted by: DupontJay | August 12, 2009 7:54 PM | Report abuse

Dupont Jay,

My feelings exactly. Of course the military doesn't recognize same-sex spouses so this will just be another benefit that these deserving Americans miss out on because of an out-dated policy!

Posted by: alysheba_3 | August 12, 2009 8:08 PM | Report abuse

This is not fair. Military personnel and their families already get huge grants, up to 60,000 for college tuition and other forms of assistance, including health care and housing. Non military workers and unemployed are suffering and nothing is being done at all for them.

Posted by: skylark1 | August 13, 2009 6:29 AM | Report abuse

Skylark1, if you think benefits are stacked too much in favor of the military, then join! You need to understand that this benefit is being offered because, and only because, they're having trouble keeping enough people in. It's all supply and demand. Same applies to the person who commented about Foreign Service Officers. There simply isn't any difficulty recruiting for that profession...

Posted by: bradboetig | August 13, 2009 7:07 AM | Report abuse

This is simply a return to an expired program. I worked with this type of employee for years and it only takes individuals who are qualified already. Everyone I worked with that got a spouse preference job would have received it anyway from their career skills and qualifications. And if they have a current federal job for one year they can already transfer. I don't see this as anything new at all. And it's still going to be preference for what's actually open-most military spouses will still have a bad selection of job because that's the majority of what's available, and the lower paying post exchange and commissary people, plus the quick hire nonappropriated fund service jobs will be what they still get.

Posted by: JanM1 | August 13, 2009 7:12 AM | Report abuse

One more marriage benefit denied to committed partners of choice. I'm sure that registered domestic partners or same sex unions don't count. But, then again, in the military, they have don't ask don't tell, which would make it pretty hard to claim this benefit for a same sex domestic partner.

Posted by: texnok | August 13, 2009 10:54 AM | Report abuse

" It should be open to spouses of all career federal employees subject to world-wide deployment at the needs of their service"

only for the first 18 months at a new location.

no need to reward those who spend a decade or longer at the same base/station
and it should apply to same sex partners too

Posted by: newagent99 | August 13, 2009 11:46 AM | Report abuse

I don't agree that other Federal agencies should grant this benefit to civilians. Civilians, on average, make more money than military members, and their deployment is voluntary; meaning, that if they don't want to go, they can resign their job or possibly transfer to another agency if they have a skill another agency wants. Military members don't have such options. I have also supported higher cost of living increases for military members than civilians during times of budget deficits, for the same reason. The level of sacrifice is just not the same.

Posted by: ripvanwinkleincollege | August 13, 2009 11:56 AM | Report abuse

I think it's horse krap and denies other civilians equal opportunity to apply for jobs. We'll have a civil service full of incompetents who didn't bust their tail to get a job but by virtue of marrying a person in the military. How effing bogus this is. I p1ss all over this idea. Just another way to skrew the rest of us and still have us pick up the tab.

b@lls to this idea.

Posted by: itsagreatday1 | August 13, 2009 12:29 PM | Report abuse

P.S. The DoD already does this as does the VA. I don't waste my time applying for positions with those agencies.

Posted by: itsagreatday1 | August 13, 2009 12:32 PM | Report abuse

Ripvanwinkle I disagree, we have a 100% volunteer army. With respect to making more money the average civilian work has more education, so you are comparing apples to oranges. Why should my spouse not get the same benefits if I volunteer to go to a duty station in Iraq or Afghanistan as a military spouse who gets relocated to Hawaii? Oh I work for Ag and don't get a flak jacket.

Posted by: crete | August 13, 2009 12:37 PM | Report abuse

" Non military workers and unemployed are suffering and nothing is being done at all for them.

so join up!yt

Posted by: newagent99 | August 13, 2009 12:43 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: LTC-11A | August 13, 2009 12:44 PM | Report abuse

In reply to skylark1, you can always get the benefits that the military is receiving. All you have to do is join.

Posted by: TMohr559 | August 13, 2009 12:57 PM | Report abuse

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