Military Spouse: Trump’s Executive Order on Hiring Is a Good Start, But More Needs to Be Done

Military Spouse: Trump’s Executive Order on Hiring Is a Good Start, But More Needs to Be Done
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(Getty image)

May 30, 2018

By Eryn Wagnon

It's PCS season, and as moving trucks come and family members go, many military spouses have one particular concern on their minds: their careers.

The average military spouse is a woman with a bachelor's degree or some college education. They typically make 38 percent less than their civilian counterparts.

As a military spouse, I identify with the majority of the leading statistics on military spouse employment. My husband and I are on our second PCS this year, and as a career-focused person, this has made my head spin. While I was in midst of making yet another job transition, which was made successful by MOAA and the Hiring Our Heroes Corporate Fellowship Program, President Donald Trump signed an executive order paving the way for more opportunities for military spouses.

So what exactly will this executive order do?

Per the order, hiring managers within the federal government will be trained and educated on the use of non-competitive hiring authority. This is a legal authority put in place so military spouses do not have to compete against the general pool of applicants for a federal job.

Additionally, federal agencies will be obligated to annually report their progress on advertising positions to, obtaining applications from, and hiring military spouses. This data will serve as an indicator for how the federal government is doing in terms of military spouse employment

While the executive order lays the groundwork for spouses to have an easier time gaining employment, I believe more needs to be done. For example, although the order educates agencies on the use of non-competitive hiring, it does not mean they are obligated to use it. Also, no directives are clear on what exactly will be done to ensure recommendations for license portability are put into action.

Additionally, while the order puts more pressure on federal agencies, the private sector has no incentive to hire military spouses. More needs to be done to encourage the private sector to hire within this skilled and competent population such as through tax credit incentives and telework assistance programs.

MOAA's work focusing on military spouse employment has been instrumental in pushing for more legislation on this topic from state-level licensing compacts to federal-level hiring incentives. With many supporters of military families in the Trump administration, I am optimistic more action can take place.

If you are experiencing any employment issues that have not been addressed by the executive order, please contact MOAA at

Eryn Wagnon is MOAA's Military Spouse Fellow. She was selected for this position as part of the Hiring Our Heroes Corporate Fellowship Program.