Exchange helps military spouses grow careers after every move

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For the more than 6,000 military spouses employed by the Army & Air Force Exchange Service, changing duty stations doesn’t have to mean giving up a rewarding career.

According to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s Hiring Our Heroes program, unemployment among military spouses in 2017 was at 16 percent — about four times the national average. Military spouses often have to quit their jobs when they relocate, leading to long periods of unemployment.

The Exchange is the Department of Defense’s largest military retailer, employing 35,000 associates at more than 2,700 facilities in 34 countries.

Associates who are military spouses can usually be transferred to an equivalent job near their spouse’s new duty station. If there is a break in service of no more than six months, they may be eligible for reinstatement of their benefits. Returning associates may also receive special considerations for their starting salary upon reemployment.

“The Exchange is family serving family,” said Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Luis Reyes, the Exchange’s senior enlisted advisor. “Letting spouses take their jobs with them strengthens military families and gives those who stand behind our nation’s warfighters the opportunity to flourish in a meaningful, satisfying career.”

In 2018, the Exchange was designated a Military Spouse Friendly Employer by Victory Media, publisher of Military Spouse Magazine, for the seventh time since 2010. More than 4,000 military spouses joined the Exchange’s ranks and more than 1,000 military spouses were promoted in 2017.

Thomas Heidenmann, assistant loss prevention manager at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, started working for the Exchange in 2015 at Fort Bliss, Texas. When his wife, Army Maj. Rosemary Baugh, underwent a permanent change of station to Schofield Barracks, Hawaii, he found keeping his job was as easy as signing a piece of paper.

“Everybody who’s ever had to PCS knows what it’s like to go through the hassle of moving your whole life from once place to another, and the last thing you need is to be worrying about finding a new job,” Heidenmann said. “Working for the Exchange, I knew my start date before we even moved. I didn’t even have to apply. I just moved there and started working.”

Amanda Greene, visual merchandiser at the Travis Air Force Base Exchange, started working for the Exchange in 2015 at Fort Polk, Louisiana. When her husband, Army Spc. Colin Greene, finished his military career and traveled home to California, Greene applied for a managerial position at the nearby Travis Exchange — a job she ended up getting.

“Having the Exchange is a really comforting thing,” Greene said. “We knew they had facilities at each place the Army could have sent us to, and PCS’ing even allowed me to move up in the company.”

To explore career opportunities with the Exchange, visitApply- MyExchange.com. n