The order focuses on promotion and education rather than new authorities.
President Trump on Wednesday issued an executive order calling on federal agencies to better recruit the spouses of military personnel, also tasking them with developing new strategies to remove barriers to spousal employment.
The order does not create new hiring incentives, but says agencies should promote those already on the books. Trump also said the Office of Personnel Management should educate agencies on those processes.
Currently, military spouses have a couple of options when applying for federal positions. They can apply non-competitively to vacant positions, or, when moving with their spouse to a new duty station, take advantage of the Priority Placement Program. That program gives spouses a leg up when applying to position at their new locations, though it does not supercede veterans preference.
Trump added that military spouses would be given more opportunities to work remotely. His order also directs agencies to suggest ways to improve license portability and recommend new ways to ease spousal hiring.
“Military spouses have already shown the utmost devotion to our nation, and we want to show you our devotion in return,” Trump said at a White House ceremony on Wednesday. “We will now ensure that you have better access to federal jobs. By taking this action today, we are leading by example and encouraging American businesses across the country to expand job opportunities for our incredible and talented and highly educated military spouses.”
Kelly Hruska, who was at the White House for the announcement as the government relations director for the National Military Family Association, said the order would be especially helpful for spouses applying to jobs overseas where the military installation might be the only source of employment available.
“Obviously, the federal government can’t hire every military spouse, but it’s definitely a step in the right direction,” Hruska said. “We’re hopeful it will help those military spouses interested in federal employment.”
Hruska said the administration has promised not to make the executive order merely a token announcement. It has committed to following up with spouses to ensure it is working, Hruska said.
Trump received pushback from many in the military spouse community in his opening months in office; his governmentwide hiring freeze forced couples to decide whether to move together and forfeit a salary when the military member received a new duty station, or to live separately so both individuals could continue earning a salary.
“America owes a debt of gratitude to our military spouses,” Trump said Wednesday. “We can never repay you for all that you do. We know what you do, and your spouse knows what you do. We can never repay you for that, but we can and we will give you the opportunities you deserve.”