More than 60 Military Spouses Attended the Military Spouse Hiring Reception at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Maryland

by Elizabeth Garcia

Jocelyn Hafeman (left) chats with representatives from Booz Allen Hamilton
Jocelyn Hafeman (left) chats with representatives from Booz Allen Hamilton

Military spouses who live in Southern Maryland say they are celebrating after a recent hiring event hosted by Hiring Our Heroes and Anne Arundel Workforce Development Corporation’s Military Corps Career Connect (C3). The event, a military spouse hiring reception, gathered career-minded military spouses and businesses from the area into one room and the end results included multiple job offers and hope for a community that has struggled to find meaningful employment for years.

Melanie Kramer is the C3 Veteran Navigator and says Naval Air Station Patuxent River is an extremely difficult landscape for spouses to find employment in. Kramer says most positions advertised are low paying and are either in retail or food & beverage industries. She also says most other positions are usually with Department of Defense contractors and even entry level roles require military security clearances, something most spouses do not have.

“I think there is an assumption that spouses in this area are not qualified,” says Kramer, “that is absolutely not the case. Spouses here are extremely qualified, educated, skilled and most importantly, they are motivated. They just need a company to give them the opportunity.”

United States Navy Spouse Brigitte Heckathorn has lived in Pax River for 3 years and says her job search up to the event had been unsuccessful.

“I had applied for positions and never heard anything back. I went to local job fairs and was always overlooked because I did not have the hands-on experience employers were looking for,” says Heckathorn, “during the HOH/C3 event, I connected with two companies that were interested in what I had to offer.  One of those companies asked me to come to their offices for an interview and I was offered a position the following week!”

Days after the event, Heckathorn accepted a position with one of the businesses in attendance as a Cybersecurity Solutions Engineer.

Navy spouse Jocelyn Hafeman also accepted a job offer from an attending business and says not all hiring events are the right fit for military spouses.

“We often find ourselves preliminarily excluded from consideration, due to our itinerant lifestyles and our resumes which are made eclectic out of necessity,” says Hafeman. “Having the opportunity to attend an event where all of the employers were specifically interested in hiring spouses removes all of those impediments.”

Pax River businesses  say they are also happy to be connecting with a great pool of talent.  Ray Wernecke, a Director at Booz Allen Hamilton, says he was able to connect with candidates who had great credentials, education, and experience ranging from cybersecurity to statistics, project management and scheduling, and more.

“This event highlighted our desire to continue recruiting from military spouse channels and forums – this is an underemployed, underrepresented population of talent that we will continue to foster as we look for a diverse group of candidates to help us support our clients’ missions here and across the nation,” says Wernecke.

Wernecke went on to say hiring events aimed at military spouses are needed.

“The events highlight a pool of talented professionals who have not only great credentials and experience, but also have the resilience, adaptability and ingenuity bred from their high operational tempo of the military lifestyle. These events are essential in making the connection between qualified military spouse candidates and local employers that need and value their unique qualities.”

The Military Spouse Hiring Reception is one of four being hosted in in the state of Maryland over the summer. Along with employment opportunities, the events are also a way to let eligible military spouses and veterans know about resources available through Military Corps Career Connect (C3) and the Hiring Our Heroes Corporate Fellowship Programs. The programs are made possible due to a $4.3 million Department of Labor, National Dislocated Worker Grant awarded to Anne Arundel Workforce Development Corporation (AAWDC).

Along with free trainings and certifications that C3 provides, there is also the HOH Corporate Fellowship Program which allows companies to test ride candidates in roles for 6 weeks at no cost. To date, over 100 military spouses and veterans have been placed in fellowships with close to 50 host companies.

Two more events will be taking place in the following weeks. One at Baltimore on July 25 and the other at MGM National Harbor on August 2.