By: Karen Jowers, Military.com

As many military families are on the move this summer, here’s a reminder for spouses to take advantage of free benefits offered to help with their job search, as well as some ongoing and new efforts in the private sector to increase employment opportunities. Take note below of a job fair at Fort Belvoir, Va., on June 5 sponsored by the U.S. Chamber Foundation’s Hiring Our Heroes program, where information about a new fellowship program for military spouses in the hospitality industry will be available, among many other job opportunities.

For starters:

  • Through the Defense Department’s Military OneSource Spouse Education & Career Opportunitiesprogram, career coaches provide individual guidance to spouses on education and careers, at no charge. Call 800-342-9647 to speak with a career coach between 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Eastern, Monday through Friday, or from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturdays. The SECO program has many other resources, including a resume builder toolkit, information about scholarships, and more.
  • For specific job openings, look to the Military Spouse Employment Partnership program, a partnership between the Defense Department and corporate and non-profit organizations that specifically want to hire military spouses. Currently there are 390 organizations participating that have hired more than 134,000 military spouses. The companies are vetted by DoD, and offer portable jobs.
  • Military installations’ employment assistance programs are a local resource to help with job searches. Contact the office to find out what assistance is available.
  • The S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s Hiring Our Heroes program hosts hiring and networking events across the country for military spouses, held in partnership with the installation’s family employment readiness office and DoD’s Military Spouse Employment Partnership.
  • Blue Star Families’ Career Centeroffers resources such as their Spouseforce, which helps connect military spouses, training partners and employers. They also provide a variety of networking opportunities, career coaching and some connections to specific training.
  • A number of private sector employers have efforts under way to specifically hire military spouses. Walmart’s Military Spouse Career Connection is showing results – with about 6,000 military spouses hired since the program began nearly seven months ago. The program gives hiring preference to military spouses who seek employment with Walmart or Sam’s Club. It also guarantees a job at a nearby store or club for all military spouses employed by the company who move to a different part of the country due to the military, and a number of spouses already have been able to transfer to another store under the program. Military spouses are working at every level and career path of the company, including pilots, truck drivers, logistics positions and positions within Walmart and Sam’s Club stores, according to Walmart officials. To apply, visit https://www.walmartcareerswithamission.com/content/people-experience/military/spouse-announcement.htmlWalmart has been a partner in DoD’s Military Spouse Employment Partnership program since 2009, but their new spouse hiring preference program is an addition to the MSEP program.

While the program will be helpful to mobile military spouses, it’s helped the Tidmore family in a different way. Katie Tidmore, who was the first hire last December through Walmart’s new program, is a customer service manager in Arab, Ala. Her husband left the Army recently after 10 years — four years as a reservist and six years on active duty, including two tours to Afghanistan. Even though he still has his civilian job, she said, her new job helped in his transition out of the Reserves. “I feel like he had a lot of pressure lifted off of him. I feel like he didn’t have to worry as much about certain finances when I got a job. He didn’t feel like everything was on him anymore. It relieved a little bit of stress for him, and that’s always good,” said Tidmore, 26.

She’s had difficulty finding steady or consistent work before. “But it’s not as much about finances to me as it is for someone to give me an opportunity to work and try to pursue a career professionally. It just means a lot.”

Walmart also just donated $1 million to Hire Heroes USA, part of which will go to that nonprofit’s Serving Spouses, a career coaching program tailored specifically for military spouses.