• August 20, 2014

Military spouses face job discrimination

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Posted: Friday, January 17, 2014 4:30 am

With national unemployment rates high, getting jobs is difficult right now for some people. But military spouses searching for jobs face an additional battle of discrimination, according to experts in the placement field.

One Cove resident recently recalled the discrimination she experienced, she said, because she is a military spouse.

Before moving to Copperas Cove, Mary Ann Jack said she had not experienced job discrimination because she lived overseas in Europe. Then her husband, an active-duty soldier, moved to Fort Hood.

applied with killeen isd

Jack applied to be a teacher with the Killeen school district and applied to substitute teach. She is certified in special education and is qualified, although not certified, in gifted and talented which she taught for two years in another school system. She also speaks three languages.

“San Antonio would jump at the chance to have me as a sub,” Jack said. “But I never got an email or call back from KISD. I just went into the black hole of applicants. When I would call them to follow up on my application, they would say my application was still active and they would call when there was an open position.”

never heard from school

Jack never heard from the school system about a job opening, but she did discover other military spouses were able to get jobs as teachers.

“I learned that usually the spouse had kids in the school system,” she said. “I never did figure out what the key ingredient was to getting hired because I met all of the qualifications and more.”

Gladys Sanchez, family employment assistance counselor with the Texas Veterans Commission, agreed that military spouses face a disadvantage when searching for a job.

“I have seen a resistance from some employers or hesitancy to hire military spouses because they are leaving at some point or they don’t know when they are leaving. It is a concern for employers,” Sanchez said. “But some have demonstrated an interest in hiring spouses, especially active-duty spouses.”

She tells military spouses to identify themselves as active-duty spouses or veteran spouses because that lets employers know they are valuable employees who can quickly adapt.

“Here in the local area, it is a challenge for some spouses to find a job. It is easier if they are willing to take on any opportunity,” Sanchez said. “And some really do not want to work. It has not been a challenge for me to get education personnel hired. If they are a teacher, they are usually hired pretty quickly.”

But that has not been the case for Jack. Over the last six months, she began applying for civilian personnel jobs to work at Fort Hood. But she has waited too long to take advantage of the military spouse hiring preference which gives active-duty spouses an advantage when applying for jobs with the federal government. It must be used within two years of moving to a new duty station.

Sanchez said a veteran spouse hiring preference is also available for spouses of veterans who are 100 percent disabled. The spouse may obtain a form from the VA to get a 10-point hiring preference when applying for federal jobs.

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