Military Life

How the Federal Hiring Freeze Affects Military Spouses

It doesn’t matter your side of the aisle. It doesn’t matter whether you consider your party affiliation to be that of the Democratic, Republican, Libertarian, Independent, or Green party. I just want to offer some insight as to how the current hiring freeze could impact the lives of those other than the Soldier, Marine, Airman, or Sailor. I’d like to share how the hiring freeze impacts the life of the military spouse.

When my husband retired from the Army after 20 years of service, at his retirement ceremony, I too was presented with a certificate of appreciation. The certificate goes on to state that I, a military spouse, “…has earned grateful appreciation for her unselfish, faithful and devoted service. Her unfailing support and understanding helped to make possible her husband’s lasting contribution to the Nation.”

Reflecting upon that day, I think back on the sacrifices that we made as a young military couple navigating duty station after duty station. As his wife, I wanted to support him and his contribution to the nation, but, I had my own dreams as well—career dreams. Because I held a teaching certification, I was able to teach at some duty stations. I also held a position as a Training and Program Specialist (TAPS) at a couple of our duty stations.

I remember when my husband did his last tour of duty in Iraq. The family was stationed in Germany. Not wanting me to be in Germany alone with two elementary school-aged children and a newborn and no other family, we decided that we would do something that is known to as Early Return of Dependents. With the Early Return of Dependents, my husband sent his young family back to the United States while he deployed to Iraq. The girls and I settled in a small town right outside of the Army post, Fort Meade—located in Maryland. Though the move to Maryland put me in close proximity to many relatives and friends, I was an emotional wreck. In between doing my best to raise the girls as a situational single parent, I could not help but worry about the safety of my husband.

Technology back then was not what it is now. My relatives that were closest to me were beginning to see a change in me. Glued to the television, trying to glean some insight from the continuous news cycles, I was traumatized by the thought that my husband was in constant danger.

To say that I was not doing well—mentally—would be an understatement. I was spiraling into a depression that was of no benefit to my three young children and my deployed husband. I begin to be of no benefit to myself.

To distract myself from all that was going on, I decided I needed to get a job. While working wasn’t a necessity for the family financially, my securing a position as a Training and Program Specialist (TAPS) for the Department of Defense Child and Youth Services afforded us an opportunity to be a two-income family. Additionally, I was able to hone my professionalism and acquire new skill sets.

More importantly, I was able to tear myself from the news.

Now that I was employed, there was more happening in my life than waiting for the call from my husband from the battlefield. I didn’t have to sit in an apartment hoping that when the doorbell rang, there would not be officers outside of my door delivering tragic news about my husband. You see, his deployment, while hard on him, created a person that I didn’t know. It created a depressed spouse that lived in constant fear. That spouse was me. So, I owe a lot to my job. It provided financial security and it provided a piece of mind.

I think fondly of my co-workers at Fort Meade, Maryland. They filled gaps in my life that could not be otherwise filled. Thus, I am thankful that during my husband’s time of service, there was no hiring freeze. You see, that hiring freeze means so many things to so many people.

  • For the Soldier, Marine, Airman, or Sailor transitioning out of the service, obtaining a federal job means that there is no gap in income for the service member and his/her family.
  • For those that support the women and men who serve, obtaining a federal job means that they can move beyond saying thank you for your service to actually providing  goods and services to those and their families who sacrificed much more than many will ever know.
  • For me, my federal job meant income and camaraderie at a time when I needed it the most. But more importantly, my federal job meant that I was able to maintain my sanity. My combat soldier husband needed me to maintain my sanity while he fought on the battlefield. Those three little girls needed their mother to maintain her sanity because they didn’t ask for the repercussions of war.

Thus, it doesn’t matter your side of the aisle. It doesn’t matter whether you consider yourself Democrat, Republican, Libertarian, Independent, or Green party. There is a federal hiring freeze going on right now.

How this hiring freeze can affect military spouses like me—well, I thought you might like to know. Can you relate?


About the Author:

Dr. Cheryl Harris Curtis is the Director of Educational Enhancement Services for Johnson C. Smith University’s Metropolitan College in Charlotte, NC. Dr. Curtis also serves as the Dedicated Veteran’s Advocate for the Johnson C. Smith University and is the staff advisor for JCSU SVA (Johnson C. Smith University Student Veterans of America). She is the vice-president of the Military Spouses’ Club of Charlotte. Dr. Curtis is engaged in a research project that will facilitate the successful treatment of veterans diagnosed with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Dr. Curtis can be reached at cheryl.curtis1988@gmail.com.

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