U.S. Coast Guard spouses will now be eligible to receive one year of free access to LinkedIn Premium, according to Second Lady Karen Pence who made the announcement this week at the Coast Guard Air Station Washington, D.C.
LinkedIn’s service enables users to search more efficiently for new employment opportunities, communicate directly with prospective employers and enhance their professional networks. Spouses will also have access to LinkedIn Learning, a repository of over 13,000 online courses designed to help sharpen participants’ skills and enhance their employability.
The partnership between the Coast Guard and LinkedIn is intended to help support military spouses who often struggle to find meaningful employment, given the transience of the military lifestyle. In addition to the difficulty of getting hired for shorter durations, military spouses face the challenge of navigating inconsistencies in professional licensing requirements from state to state.
Marine Corps veteran and chief of staff for Military Affairs at Microsoft, Danny Chung, emphasized the importance of military spouse employment. He explained that spouse employment is one of the top three concerns of military personnel today. In fact, military spouses are either unemployed by 28% or underemployed by 55%, according to National Military Spouse Network’s 2019 White Paper survey.
The military spouse employment issue has wide-reaching consequences that stretch beyond individual family units.
Pence explained, “The strength of our nation is not just about the people who are in uniform who fight to protect our freedom. The spouses and families who serve alongside them also make tremendous sacrifices for the greater benefit of our country.”
Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Kevin McAleenan sent a clear message to the military spouses in attendance. “Our people are our most valuable resources. We are committed to helping as much as we possibly can at [the Department of Homeland Security],” he said.
Pence also said the larger goal of the program, assuring the Coast Guard spouses in attendance, is that, “We don’t just want you to have a job; we want you to have a career. We want you to feel fulfilled. We want you to use all of those skills that you’ve acquired over the years.”
This statement comes after LinkedIn’s announcement in summer 2018 extending its premium feature to Department of Defense military spouses in a similar matter. It was in 2011 that LinkedIn first devoted resources to current-serving military and veterans after a call to action from the Obama Administration’s Joining Forces Initiative.
Moreover, Chung and Pence identified various initiatives designed to support both veterans and military spouses in finding civilian employment.
Chung spoke about Microsoft’s Military Spouse Technology Academy, a pilot program in Washington state that just graduated its first class in March of this year. Pence mentioned the executive order signed last May that enhanced opportunities for military spouses to work for the federal government. She also discussed the initiative launched by U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s Hiring Our Heroes, a program designed to help military spouses, veterans and service members transitioning to civilian life find employment.
Despite the numerous efforts currently in place, Pence acknowledged that more remains to be done.
Pence’s speech was delivered to a crowd of Coast Guard spouses including Amy Vanderhaden, wife of the master chief petty officer of the Coast Guard.
“The efforts and support of the second lady, the acting secretary of Homeland Security and our own Coast Guard work-life staff to highlight the importance of employment among our Coast Guard spouses and all military spouses is an immense accomplishment. We couldn’t be more proud and happy and thankful,” she said.
Jenae Woodward-Williams, another spouse in attendance, found the importance of the announcement to be personally resonant. She explained, “As a former teacher, I know how difficult it is transferring from state to state and figuring out the credentialing process. It was really great for Mrs. Pence to address that. … I think, overall, it’s also encouraging to know that [the employment challenges facing military spouses] are being recognized and there is work being done.”
Rachel Conley, another Coast Guard spouse and 2016 winner of the Wanda Allen-Yearout Ombudsman of the Year award was especially appreciative of the accessibility inherent within this initiative.
“Our spouses move very frequently in service to country with their service members,” Conley said. “Many of our Coast Guard families live in remote or isolated locations, and it’s not always easy for them to access in-person services. … Having access to something like LinkedIn really opens up their world to so many more possibilities that support their employment endeavors and really lead to a fulfilling career.”
After the year of free access has ended, Coast Guard spouses will be able to renew their free subscriptions in the event of future permanent changes of station, career changes or job loss, as well as in the six months following their service member’s separation from the Coast Guard.
All Coast Guard spouses who attended the event received a silver bracelet bearing three charms from the Second Lady’s office, as a token of her larger appreciation.
“We are so proud of each and every one of you,” Pence said. “You are the backbone of our military. You contribute to the strength and readiness of our armed forces. You contribute directly. … We can never, ever thank you enough for your sacrifice.”Read comments