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Sonja’s Story: The Value of Mentoring Military Spouses

While unemployment rates have decreased over the last decade, underemployment is still a pervasive issue. This rings true for Sonja, a 44-year-old military spouse who dreamed of a career in finance, but became a real estate broker instead. Moving “frequently and unexpectedly” during her husband’s 20 years of service in the Army has presented unique challenges to her professional development. 

Unfortunately, stories like Sonja’s are not uncommon among military spouses, whose sacrifices in support of their spouses’ careers are often overlooked. Many military spouses struggle with securing and maintaining meaningful employment, due to barriers like frequent relocations or a lack of professional development resources near installations.

Military Spouse Employment Facts

  • more than 24% of active duty spouses are unemployed

  • 35% of active duty spouses are underemployed, with 31% working only part-time when they would prefer full-time work

Now, as she and her husband look to transition out of the military, Sonja is seeking assistance with creating the career she has always wanted. She recently realized that in order to succeed, she needed to identify gaps in her knowledge of the finance industry.

For spouses like Sonja, mentorship can be crucial for developing the skills needed to gain meaningful employment. That’s why American Corporate Partners (ACP) matched Sonja with a finance professional who could teach her more about her ideal role in this field. “I found a great mentor through ACP, and the follow-up helped lead me to the next steps in my professional life,” Sonja said.

Military Spouse Professional Development

Founded in 2008, ACP is a national nonprofit organization that helps returning veterans and active duty spouses find their next careers through one-on-one mentoring, networking and online career advice.

Since November 2018, ACP has offered active-duty spouses, like Sonja, the opportunity to engage in a year-long, one-on-one mentorship with an industry professional. Each mentorship is customized, allowing spouses and their mentors to focus on the unique needs and goals of every participant. These goals range from interviewing, to resume building, to entrepreneurship and more.

ACP is committed to assisting 1,500 active-duty spouses over the next two years, with the help of the U.S. Army, the U.S. Army’s Soldier for Life program and other partners. Whether you’re an active-duty spouse on the move or you’re considering starting a new career or business, ACP has volunteer mentors eager to offer assistance. You can learn more about this by visiting www.acp-usa.org/spouses.

Commissaries Support Military Spouses

The Defense Commissary Agency is proud that a majority of its workforce is military-related. Military spouses can seek employment at one of 236 commissaries around the world, making it easier to find a job supporting the military community where the service members in their lives are stationed.

If you’re interested in pursuing a commissary career, you can visit the Careers with DeCA section of our website to find information on Employment Opportunities and Benefits. Our website also offers links to other employment resources for military spouses, such as Career OneStop and America’s Job Exchange.

What professional challenges has your family faced while moving in support of your service member’s career? Have you ever had a mentor who helped you take the right step? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below!

Guest Contributor:

  • Lucienne Piper, MSW, is the Military Spouse Program Coordinator for American Corporate Partners, a social worker and the proud wife of a Marine Corps veteran!

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