When the U.S. Space Force became the sixth branch of the U.S. Armed Forces, it had exactly one Guardian. The Guardian was Gen. John Raymond, so his wife Mollie Raymond was the only Space Force spouse.
Soon after, Mollie Raymond became Space Force’s senior spouse.
In this role, Raymond spearheaded the launch of an accountability group for Space Force military spouses pursuing a Google Career Certificate (GCC) through the Career Forward program. Hiring Our Heroes launched Career Forward with support from Google.org in 2021. Raymond was a Career Forward learner, leader, and proponent while still supporting Space Force families.
Related: ‘Career Forward Helped Me Change Careers’: Training Program Provides Path to Career Fulfillment for Underemployed Military Spouse
Yet, if you try to attribute Career Forward’s success to Raymond, she quickly redirects the praise to Hiring Our Heroes.
“When I began this journey for a Google Career Certificate, Hiring Our Heroes was right beside me,” she said. “My intention was to increase awareness for Career Forward because I am a strong believer in sharing resources. But this was different. I thought Career Forward was an opportunity military spouses needed to take advantage of. And if I committed to learning with them, not just telling spouses about it, we would encourage spouses to try [Career Forward].”
And it worked. More than 60% of Raymond’s cohort earned a certificate. The remaining military spouses still have three months to finish the training.
In other words, Raymond is a senior spouse who truly leads from the front.
“It was Mollie’s work on programs like Career Forward that helped to create a pathway. It inspired military spouses to find those meaningful career options,” said Eric Eversole, president of Hiring Our Heroes and vice president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
2023 Bonnie Amos Impact Award for Lifetime Achievement
Her support for Career Forward is among the reasons why Hiring Our Heroes recognized Raymond with the Bonnie Amos Impact Award for Lifetime Achievement at the 7th annual Military Spouse Employment Summit, presented by USAA.
“Mollie Raymond stands out as a shining example of what military spouses bring to the workforce: excellence, dedication, and unwavering commitment to service,” said Booz Allen Hamilton Executive Vice President Andrea Inserra.
Mollie Raymond stands out as a shining example of what military spouses bring to the workforce.Andrea Inserra, Executive Vice President, Booz Allen Hamilton
The award recognizes someone who goes above and beyond to promote and protect economic opportunities for military spouses.
“Her commitment to making a significant impact in the lives of America’s military families is something we should all note. With leaders like Mollie Raymond, we will help military spouses find meaningful careers,” Eversole said.
Raymond received the award with grace and humility.
“It is an honor to do what we can to help the spouses and families of those who serve so gallantly,” she said.
When asked about her next steps, Raymond referred to the employment resources available through Hiring Our Heroes.
“I hope to continue to take advantage of the opportunities and career services Hiring Our Heroes offers. From job search support to hiring events to fellowship to connecting with employers, Hiring Our Heroes offers the right support at the right time,” she said.
Fiserv Presents Military Spouse Entrepreneur Impact Award to Marine Corps Spouse
Before moving to Billings, Montana, Jilan Hall-Johnson was a transition coordinator assisting Army veterans. She didn’t expect trouble finding a job in her new city.
Ten job interviews and no job, this U.S. Marine Corps spouse explored alternative employment solutions.
“It was very difficult to find a job with a graduate degree as a military spouse. … I thought it was a good time to open a restaurant,” she said.
With the support of her husband, she dusted off her culinary arts degree from 2005 and opened the Sassy Biscuit Co. in 2018. “What started as a silly idea of making biscuit waffles for my kids suddenly blossomed into a unique food venture,” according to her LinkedIn profile. The company’s motto is “Bringing Big City Living to Small Town Plates.” Its customers enjoy homemade breakfast cuisine served at the speed of fast food at this casual brunch spot.
Despite the recent challenges of the global pandemic, Hall-Johnson is a thriving business owner. In 2020, she opened a second Sassy Biscuit location in Dover, New Hampshire, and in 2021, she launched Jook, A Chicken Joint at both Sassy Biscuit locations.
The couple is now stationed in Washington, D.C., and thankfully, Hall-Johnson can manage her restaurants remotely. Entrepreneurship is her portable employment plan.
“[My restaurant] was supposed to be a solution for being a military spouse, so I set up my business with that mindset,” she said.
Air Force Spouse Volunteers More Than 1,000 Hours With MSPN, Receives Volunteer Impact Award
Amy Schwartz pays it forward.
This Air Force military spouse credits the Military Spouse Professional Network (MSPN) for helping her maintain her career trajectory in human resources. But unlike some others, she didn’t leave MSPN when she found a job.
During the last eight years, Schwartz volunteered more than 1,000 hours with Hiring Our Heroes, said Brian Alvarado, Military Spouse Programs Director at Hiring Our Heroes.
“Amy is the type of military spouse that signifies the outcomes of the Military Spouse Professional Network we hope for. From taking advantage of the programs and mentorship, she was able to become gainfully employed, and even PCS with a job,” he said. “She then decided to give back by providing opportunities for other military spouses to have similar access to the type of support that helped her.”
In 2021, Schwartz helped launch the Cannon Air Force MSPN group. This MSPN now has more than 900 members and connects its members with local employment opportunities, said Kyra McGown, a coordinator with Military Spouse Programs at Hiring Our Heroes.
Related: The Power of LinkedIn and MSPN
Recently, Schwartz relocated to Las Vegas and continues volunteering with Hiring Our Heroes. She facilitated a LinkedIn workshop for the Nevada MSPN and volunteered at the Nevada Military Spouse Hiring Event in April. Vetrics Group Principal Mary Reding presented the Military Spouse Volunteer Impact Award to Schwartz. Notably, Reding received the award in 2019.
“Amy has given her time, expertise, leadership and care to our community for years and is so deserving of this recognition,” Alvarado said.
Hiring Our Heroes Recognizes State of Virginia With Community Impact Award Presented by Deloitte
The State of Virginia was honored with the Community Impact Award for being a leader in cross-sector solutions for military spouse employment challenges. In 2021, the state created a new position – military spouse liaison – and appointed Kayla LaFond.
In this role, LaFond advocates for military spouses and their families. She collaborates with key stakeholders within federal, state, and local government, military installations, and the private sector to develop and implement a resource system to provide access to licensure reciprocity, employment, benefits, childcare, and community resources, according to a news release about her appointment.
During the Community Impact Award presentation, Biff Lyons, Managing Director at Deloitte, declared Virginia to be an “exemplary champion.” Its “commitment to making the state a great place for military families to live, work, and raise their children.”
“Through community action, the Commonwealth of Virginia fosters an environment that empowers military spouses and constantly blazes the trail for improving their livelihoods and well-being,” he said.