Milspouse preference for federal jobs needs to include National Guard and Reserve spouses


(Photo: U.S. Army, Visual Information Specialist Pierre-Etienne Courtejoie/Released)

By Alicia Hinds Ward

The Priority Placement Program (PPP) gives military spouses priority placements for federal jobs. Yes, we know there’s a hiring freeze, but that should lift as some point–right?

But here’s the thing–PPP works pretty well and with reasonable success for active-duty PCSing spouses provided that you are:

  • The spouse of an active-duty service member (including Coast Guard or full-time National Guard)
  • Moving with your spouse to a new duty station
  • Married before your spouse or partner’s reporting date
  • Applying for a position within commuting distance of your spouse or partner’s new duty station
  • Ranked among the best-qualified candidates for the position

Military OneSource states, “You can apply for spouse preference for Appropriated Fund and Non-Appropriated Fund federal jobs as early as 30 days before your spouse’s reporting date… The civilian personnel office fills Appropriated Fund vacancies on military installations, and spouse preference is available for these positions at pay grades up to GS-15.

It’s pretty wonderful when those things apply. But notice that it it only applies to “full-time National Guard.” That’s where things get dicey. I’m a Guard spouse and the Guard is its own hodge-podge anomaly of greatness where airmen and soldiers work in joint commands. National Guard spouses hold down the home front and support the Army and Air Force. . . but we don’t PCS. No folks–we don’t really PCS. The Reserve is pretty similar too. Why, you ask?

Most full-time Guard airmen and solders–yes, I have to recognize both–work in their units on Active Guard/Reserve (AGR) positions. The other full-timers are military technicians (mil-techs), and then there are the traditional Guardsmen who train annually, attend drills, and provide mission support. I salute them all daily.

But I’m a spouse and as a military ID card-carrying spouse, I can’t ever qualify for PPP because my spouse will probably never be reassigned to the Bureau or the Readiness Center. (But if he did, it’s just around the corner, and we can’t PCS from D.C. to D.C.)

Consider this: In every zip code in the US resides a Guard or Reserve spouse, and most of our Guardsmen and Reservists are traditional or Reserve. That means that the overwhelming majority of Guard and Reserve spouses aren’t eligible for PPP. Them’s the breaks and it’s okay. (But I believe an explanation is in order because folks are always asking me, “Don’t you get PPP? I mean you’re a spouse!” And a two-hour dialogue ensues resulting in I-can’t-believe-thats and that’s-so-unfairs.

No, my active duty spouses, it’s not my intention to separate us with this. It’s to show that despite how far we’ve come–I mean they finally got rid of the Commissary Privilege Card, people!–things are still different for us. I’ve been a military spouse for a pretty long time and a Guard spouse for a while, and we celebrate the victories. Not having access to PPP isn’t greatest help for us when our folks cycle on and off active-duty and deploy just as much as those on active duty.

So, I’m working towards change for this to help all of us. Who’s with me? Cheers.

Mocha Milspouse was created to help fill a need in the military spouse community. As military spouses of color, we found that we were either under represented or misrepresented at unit functions, spouse events, conferences and other events in the community designed to educate, uplift and support spouses.

Alicia Hinds Ward is a business executive who devotes her energy to veteran and spouse employment and resource support, idea development and coaching, and empowerment. She is a baking and flower-decorating junkie with an event-planning background. A milspouse for 26 years, she’s the mother of three boys and is devoted to her Guard family, too.

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