Military spouse unemployment and underemployment are persistent concerns and pose a threat to military readiness and national security, which is why Hiring Our Heroes and Blue Star Families launched the 4+1 Commitment: The Formula for Military Spouse Success initiative for employers.
“We are facing a national crisis in military spouse unemployment,” said Eric Eversole, president of Hiring Our Heroes and a vice president at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. “The 4+1 initiative will serve as a rallying cry to raise much-needed awareness. It provides pathways to meaningful careers for military spouses, especially remote and portable pathways.”
The 4+1 Commitment is a first-of-its-kind, nationwide effort aimed at reducing the 21% unemployment rate faced by military spouses.
“I saw firsthand how traditional workplace conventions kept me and other talented military spouses terribly underemployed or unemployed. And I saw how underemployment or unemployment can be a root cause for some of the worst problems facing our military community,” said Kathy Roth-Douquet, co-founder and CEO of Blue Star Families.
These problems, such as food insecurity, loneliness, and depression, are preventable, explained Roth-Douquet.
“We can change the workplace, and that’s where the 4+1 Commitment comes in,” she said. “The 4+1 Commitment is a formula for military spouse success. It’s a data-driven, evidence-based solution that’s easy to understand.”
What is the 4+1 Commitment?
The 4+1 Commitment asks employers in all sectors to adopt at least one military-spouse-friendly employment policy, plus consider joining an existing government spouse employment program. The four policies are:
1. Facilitate job transferability
2. Offer remote or telework
3. Offer flexible work hours
4. Provide paid or permissive Permanent Change of Station (PCS) leave
+1: Consider joining an existing government spouse employment program
By adopting the 4+1 Commitment, companies aim to positively impact the lives of military families. These policies will prove beneficial to employers. It is the proverbial “win-win,” added Eversole.
“The 4+1 initiative brings the community together to focus on a few common-sense practices and policies to help military spouses as they search for and maintain careers,” Eversole said. “And I think we all would agree that military spouses shouldn’t have to choose between their life of service and their career.”
How does signing on to the 4+1 Commitment benefit my company?
Military spouses are highly educated and highly skilled job candidates. This primarily female (92%) population comes from diverse backgrounds. They have transferable skills and experiences in various roles and industries.
“Military spouses present an incredible workforce opportunity for American businesses. They are incredibly well-educated, diverse, and resilient, and they understand how to get the job done no matter what. But let’s make no mistake about it – hiring military spouses is not only a great business decision, it is critical to our national security,” Eversole said.
When employers sign on to the 4+1 Commitment, it allows military spouses to build careers to support their families’ financial well-being. It also benefits the stability of the all-volunteer force.
“One of the top reasons why people, who are otherwise promotable, say they will leave the military is because of their spouse’s career,” Roth-Douquet said. “One of the top reasons military families no longer recommend military service is because the military lifestyle challenges prevent second incomes and lead to financial hardships.”
The First 12 Signatories with a Goal of 1,000 Signatories
The 4+1 Commitment: The Formula for Military Spouse Success is presented by Blue Star Families and Hiring Our Heroes in partnership with the Department of Defense Military Spouse Employment Partnership. The initiative was launched as part of Blue Star Families’ Do Your Part campaign, made possible by craig newmark philanthropies.
Hiring Our Heroes and Blue Star Families recognized the 12 original signatories during a ceremony at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in December 2023. This list includes Starbucks, T-Mobile, PenFed Credit Union, Telemynd, USAA, Nextdoor, Navy Federal Credit Union, Comcast NBCUniversal, First Command Financial Services, Booz Allen Hamilton, TriWest Healthcare Alliance, and Johnson & Johnson.
“The 4+1 initiative will serve as a rallying cry to raise much-needed awareness. It provides pathways to meaningful careers for military spouses, especially remote and portable pathways.”Eric Eversole, Hiring Our Heroes President
The 4+1 Commitment organizers hope to have 1,000 signatories by the end of 2024. Eversole is confident Hiring Our Heroes will reach this ambitious goal.
“We’re going to get 1,000 signatures,” he said.