How This Coalition Connects Military Spouses with Local Businesses

Outdoor business meeting

SCHRIEVER AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- As a military spouse, moving every few years can make it difficult to begin or maintain a career. The Military Spouse Career Committee is helping military spouses throughout the region acquire the tools necessary to find a career they can take with them.

"It's tough for these [spouses]; it's really, really tough," said Tammy Fogall, MSCC chair and a former military spouse. "The military is a family, and I want to help."

According to the group's Facebook page, "The Military Spouse Career Committee is a coalition of military, business and spouse representatives who are banding together to train, educate, inform, network and empower military spouses in their pursuit of meaningful careers."

The MSCC was created in 2005 by the Regional Business Alliance under the arm of the nonprofit Military Affairs Council. At the time, the members of the MAC felt there was a void between military spouses and businesses in the Pikes Peak region.

Spouses were either being turned down for jobs, because employers assumed a military affiliation meant they would be leaving in two years or less, or had overqualified themselves for the available positions.

"Spouses had educated themselves out of jobs," Fogall said. "Some people had multiple master's degrees and were being told the only available positions [on base] were at the base exchange or commissary."

The MSCC includes representatives from each of the military installations in Colorado Springs, the Pikes Peak Work Center, New Horizons Computer Learning Centers and others with a passion for helping military members and their families.

"This is a great group of folks," said Heidi Goodbar, Schriever Air Force Base Spouse Employment Program manager and a MSCC board member. "We all have the same mission. We're all trying to help military spouses with employment, job skills training, college education, anything that will help propel them in a career they can take with them from station to station."

Being a part of the MSCC has been particularly helpful for Goodbar; it put her in touch with numerous resources throughout the region early in her tenure at Schriever.

"I've only been here about 10 months, and my job here involves helping [spouses] understand how to navigate the job search in the local area, so [having] these resources is beneficial," Goodbar said. "In this community, there are tons of resources for our military. So if I have a new spouse and they have a particular skill set and they're looking for employment, I can reach out to this group."

Goodbar explained the MSCC is the only group of its kind she's seen.

"I've been doing this job, working for airmen and family for eight years, and we have a spouse employment program; all A&FRCs [Airmen and Family Readiness Centers] have an employment program," she said. "But [there isn't] any kind of group where we connected where it was an opportunity to pool our resources and collaborate on stuff like job fairs."

Six years ago, a grant from the Air Force allowed the MSCC to create the Career Planning Seminar for Spouses, a two-day event held four times each year, twice at Peterson Air Force Base and twice at the U.S. Air Force Academy.

"Day 1 helps them reflect on their skills, find what they're good at and discover what they want to do," Fogall said. "Day 2, we help them network and bring in a panel to help them [with interview skills]."

In addition to providing employment help to military spouses, the MSCC also has spouses who volunteer, giving the committee insight into the needs of the people they're trying to serve.

"We love to have military spouses involved to see [job searching] from their perspective and see what we're missing," Fogall said.

For more information, or to volunteer, contact Fogall at 719-210-3312.

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