Military spouse economic empowerment zones celebrate first anniversary success

Hiring Our Heroes launched the nation’s first Military Spouse Economic Empowerment Zone a year ago with a vision – connect military spouses with companies committed to hiring them. The San Antonio Chamber of Commerce was “ground zero” for this great initiative and was honored to be an integral piece in connecting support within the City and the surrounding San Antonio region, which has now created a ripple effect of advocacy throughout the nation. The one-year anniversary reception was hosted by USAA and attended by Second Lady of the United States Karen Pence in San Antonio last week, along with attendance by Mayor Ron Nirenberg and other influencers who work within the military hiring space.

“Several of our military spouses, including myself, have secured gainful employment as a direct result of the vibrant network and guidance here,” said Holland Nguyen, a military spouse who lives in San Antonio, Texas, and works at Humana Military. Nguyen shared her employment success story of connecting with the Chamber’s Vice President of Military Affairs, Lori Stinson, who spent time getting to know her needs and then personally introduced her to a key Humana military connection who was hiring.

The Military Spouse Economic Empowerment Zones launched in San Antonio in February 2018. Twelve zones are now up and running which means that military spouses in Spokane, Tampa, Colorado Springs, and San Diego are more likely to be connected with opportunities, thanks to the willingness of employment partners, service organizations, chamber of commerce, state, and city officials to solve a national workplace issue. Additional zones will be launched later this year.

“Military spouse employment is a very important aspect of a strong and resilient military,” Pence said. “We know that if the spouses aren’t happy the service members are going to get out of the service. We see it. It just makes sense. I’ve given you eight years; you’ve gotten to do what you love, now it’s my turn. It’s unfortunate that it has to be one way or the other.”

USAA’s Assistant Vice President of Military Advocacy Mike Kelly, and the Chamber’s Military Affairs Council Chair from 2015 to 2018, said there have been many successes in the first year of the San Antonio MSEEZ.

“Most importantly, we’ve watched the foundation come together. Key partners across the city have joined forces to build a robust network of national and local employers, educational institutions, and community resources,” Kelly said.

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