Being married to a military service member is more than marital status. It is a way of life centered around supporting the service of one’s husband or wife. When duty calls, the military spouse often augments roles of breadwinner, parent and home manager to keep their service member mission-focused.
In November, the USO is celebrating National Military Family Month with a tribute to military spouses. The USO has focused a six-month-long spotlight on the military spouse community, and on November 14, the organization will host a half-day summit to raise public awareness of the challenges and contributions of these unsung heroes.
Throughout the campaign, the USO has captured and highlighted the diverse stories that make up the military spouse community. The spotlight is also intended to showcase the various support and services that the USO offers military spouses – whether it’s attending a Military Spouse Networking event, Coffee Connection or Special Delivery Baby Shower. Beyond events, the USO works to deliver its mission of connection by sharing information and tips among spouses and helping them stay connected through our #MilSpouseSalute content on social media and on our milspouse salute site uso.org.
Some key milestones throughout the campaign include:
The Salute campaign kicked off in May on Military Spouse Appreciation Day and in conjunction with the announcement of the Armed Forces Insurance 2018 Military Spouse of the Year awards at the USO-Metro’s 36th Annual Awards Dinner in Washington, D.C.
During the months of May, June and July, the USO joined forces and combined salutes with longtime partners NASCAR and Coca-Cola to give each of the AFI 2018 Military Spouses of the Year a chance of a lifetime. The 2018 NASCAR Salutes Refreshed by Coca-Cola initiative focused on honoring military spouses and their commitment to supporting our military, their families and communities. In partnership with the USO’s Salute to Military Spouses campaign, NASCAR fans got an up-close look inside the lives of military spouses. Additionally, the spouses of the year were interviewed by NASCAR drivers and had the opportunity to attend NASCAR races with their families. It was a tremendous eye-opening and enriching experience for all involved.
Employment has also been a key topic for the campaign. The military spouse unemployment rate is nearly twice the rate of their civilian counterparts, so to help shrink that number, the USO is partnering with technology powerhouses to educate and empower military spouses in ways that meet their unique lifestyles and needs:
In August, the USO announced a collaboration with Grow with Google to provide training and career guidance through the Google IT Support Professional Certificate for 1,000 military spouses and transitioning service members. The certificate is designed to give learners the training and experience they need to get a job in the growing field of information technology. Through this program, military spouses without an IT background can be career-ready in about eight months and matched to employers seeking IT support talent.
In September, the USO launched a pilot program with Microsoft’s Military Spouse Technology Academy. As a means of addressing the unique career and economic gaps military spouses often experience, the MSTA provides the necessary technology and soft-skills training to help prepare the spouse community for long-term, meaningful careers in technology.
This fall, the USO initiated a pilot program to expand its USO Care Package Program to include military spouses. The USO is working the test program with a pre-identified group of deployed service members to help them send a free USO care package directly to their military spouse.
The campaign culminates with The Salute to Military Spouses, a half-day summit with media partner POLITICO on November 14 in Washington, D.C.
The summit will bring military spouses, military support organizations, business leaders and key USO supporters together for panels that examine key issues such as education and employment, community building, peer networking and family-strengthening programs.
One of the motivations for this six-month campaign and event was to address the disconnect that remains between civilian and military communities and the lack of understanding of what it means to serve as a military spouse and family. To dispel misconceptions and to break the common one-size-fits-all mindset, the USO used its global footprint to conduct focus groups and one on one interviews at eight locations around the world. The findings from this research will be shared at the Salute event.
The military spouse-focused qualitative research effort – the first of its kind – will shed light on the unique challenges and unknown needs as well as the unheralded strengths and new opportunities related to the military spouse community. The insights will help inform the general population and bolster the USO’s ability to deliver a full spectrum of support to military spouses, from entertaining to educating to empowering.
The USO will livestream the event and welcomes military spouses and supporters around the world to join in The Salute. Bookmark USO.org/MilSpouseSalute, tune in on November 14 at 10 a.m. ET and follow #MilSpouseSalute for event updates on social media.