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Partnership Improves Career Opportunities for Military Spouses

By Army Staff Sgt. Michael J. Carden
American Forces Press Service

ARLINGTON, Va., Oct. 2, 2008 – Military spouses often have a hard time finding employment, and even when they do, there’s little opportunity to continue their career because it’s only a matter of time before their servicemember spouse is transferred to another duty station.

Inova Health System of Northern Virginia is trying to help.

“It’s a challenge to build and keep a family together, especially while the nation is at war,” Michael L. Dominguez, principal undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness, said yesterday during a ceremony in which Inova made its commitment to the military community.

Inova’s pledge gives employment opportunities, training programs and the chance for career advancement in a wide range of health care-related fields to military spouses who seek work in the medical field for the first time as well as those who have experience.

After a year of Inova officials working with the Defense Department to develop this initiative, a formal plan and staff are in place to engage spouses and bring them into the Inova work force while they’re living in the area.

“Our mission is to support the community in any way that we possibly can, and sometimes that goes beyond health care,” Kylanne Green, Inova’s chief administrative officer, said. “Because the military is such an important part of this community, this seemed a very natural partnership.”

The Inova system includes hospitals, nursing homes, assisted-living communities, emergency and urgent care centers, a home health agency, an outpatient surgical and 24-hour emergency care facility and a variety of health and wellness classes for the community. As the largest provider of health care services in Northern Virginia, Inova has a long history of employing and caring for military spouses and families, Green said.

“We wouldn’t have an adequate work force were it not for people who were either trained in the military or are actively serving in the military,” she said. “And when we have military spouses in our employ, we are very encouraging of them to avail themselves to things that Inova can offer, even if they are here for just a short period of time.”

Green hopes that Inova’s efforts serve as an example for corporations and institution all over the country to support military spouses in the work force.

When the program is proven successful, she said, Inova officials would be more than willing to share their experience and lessons learned with other employers.

“One of the things that we can do to help is kind of be the laboratory and share our successes, so the military can be successful in going to other areas and demonstrating what’s already been done,” she said. “We’re really happy to be on the front end of that.”

Making the connection between military spouses and employers became one of Leslye A. Arsht’s major goals when she became deputy undersecretary of defense for military community and family policy in February 2006, Arsht said.

Military spouses are well educated and ambitious, they’re dependable, and they reflect the military values servicemember spouses live by, she added, noting the national shortage of allied health professionals across the country.

“[Military spouses] have all the things we know the workplace is really seeking,” she said. “We have spouses looking for positive, portable careers, and this is it.

“We have very high hopes, but we know this is just a launch,” she continued. “We have a lot of work to do, but we’re very pleased to take this step forward.”

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Michael L. Dominguez
Leslye A. Arsht

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DoD Personnel and Readiness

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