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Family Matters Blog: Spouses Benefit From New Hiring Rule

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Aug. 31, 2011 – Guest blogger Donna Miles is a colleague of mine at American Forces Press Service.

It’s hard enough being the spouse of a fallen service member, or a veteran declared 100 percent disabled.

But for many of these spouses, well-meaning federal rules that gave them up to two years after their loved one died or became disabled to take advantage of special hiring authorities for government jobs just wasn’t enough.

Too often, two years was too little time before they were ready to enter the workforce. Many were still grieving or were preoccupied with the challenges of caring for their children or disabled spouses during this difficult time. Others were enrolled in educational or training programs to prepare them for new careers to support their families.

Officials at the Office of Personnel Management recognized the problem, and moved today to make things right.

OPM published final regulations today that give these spouses as much time as they need to apply for a federal job under the military spouse noncompetitive hiring authority.

That authority, which has been in effect since Sept. 11, 2009, allows qualified spouses who aren’t already federal employees to apply directly to agency job opportunity announcements, without having to compete with other applicants.

This could prove to be a big deal in helping more spouses benefit from the hiring authority designed to help them when they need it most. The first quarter the hiring authority was launched, only 58 spouses took advantage of it. Between October 2009 and October 2010, 887 military spouses were hired under the program.

OPM Executive Director John Berry is hoping the new final regulations will help more spouses by bringing them into the federal workforce.

"Military spouses make countless sacrifices for our nation through their dedication and support on the home front while their loved ones are serving," he said. "In recognition of their sacrifice, this rule will help military spouses find employment in the government."

 

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