One of the best things for senior Army spouses is the opportunities we have to be advocates for our Army families. It is a privilege and a joy for me.

I am truly grateful for the things I get to do to address quality of life concerns that Army spouses have for themselves and their children.

The most recent activity I was honored to help facilitate was last Thursday’s Office of the Secretary of Defense’s Spouse Education and Career Opportunities webinar. I have been aware of the many useful and relevant services the SECO program offers for quite a while now, but every year it seems I meet more than a few spouses who have never heard of SECO and are totally unaware of this amazing, free resource that exists exclusively for them.

The webinar was a III Corps event, which means that we invited the four divisions that make up the corps to register to participate. Other spouses who heard about it were also invited to register.

The spouses who actually ‘dialed in’ that day were pleasantly surprised with the information that Lee Kelley shared with them about the things SECO could do for them.

Lee listed the following areas of assistance within the SECO mission: career exploration; education, training and licensing; employment readiness; and career connecting.

An interested spouse can call 800-342-9647 for more information or connect online at myseco.militaryonesource.mil if that is the preferred method. Office hours are 7:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. Eastern time and from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. on Saturdays. Spouses will get one-on-one time with a professional counselor. This service really cannot be beat by any civilian agency.

Featured currently is the new individual career plan template, where a spouse can create a plan online that targets his or her career goals. In addition, there are resume samples to help spouses build their own.

There are also career assessments available free on the website. SECO has created a brand new LinkedIn group for military spouse entrepreneurs, too. Go to www.linkedin.com/groups/8579258 to request to join the group. You will be allowed in to learn about how you, as a military spouse, can get advice and assistance as you begin your own business.

The SECO office also works with the local employment readiness personnel on each of our installations. Many of us know this service as Army Community Services’ Employment Readiness Office. These include certified professional resume writers, federal jobs search trainers, certified federal career coaches and certified workforce development professionals.

There are also lots of classes to help prepare spouses for job searches.

Another great feature available through SECO is MSEP — the Military Spouse Employment Partnership program. MSEP partners, corporations, companies, non-profits, etc., have hired over 100,000 military spouses since it was launched. They also offer work from home options with 120 of the 335 participating companies offering this option.

Of course, SECO has a Facebook page. They have begun a monthly MSEP event in which different companies and organizations are highlighted each month. Go to www.facebook.com/DoDMilSpouse/event to register.

The link from SECO that will allow you to view the actual III Corps Spouse Employment webinar that took place last week is below. The great thing is, you can call or go online to get your questions answered or the help you need to find employment, figure out how to pay for your education or even figure out what you want to study.

I have just skimmed the surface of all that SECO offers, but the best thing I can tell you about this program is that it illustrates very clearly how much the Army, and all the other branches of the military, care about our families.

Every good commander knows that his or her soldiers are at their best when they know that their families are being taken care of properly. The SECO program is just one very tangible and very relevant way the Department of Defense can help do that.

I hope that you will consider visiting this website or the Facebook page. I think you’ll be very impressed. And, if you’re an Army spouse who is looking for work, you will also be grateful that such a rich, helpful resource exists just for you and it costs you and your soldier absolutely nothing to participate.

Recorded III Corps webinar is available at http://zeiders.adobeconnect.com/p4lxw4x5y37/ and you can also register for upcoming webinars at https://myseco.militaryonesource.mil/Portal/Content/View/4913.

Please share with any Fort Hood spouses in your unit or neighborhood who missed the webinar!

Lynda MacFarland is the spouse of the III Corps and Fort Hood commanding general. She is a proud Army wife, mother and advocate for military families.

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