Workforce Development Award Nomination Washington

Washington Workforce Development Award Nomination: ESD/DVA Military Spouse Listening Sessions and Readout

Contact Information of Individual Submitting Nomination

Nominator: Mari McGill

Email Address:

Agency Name: Washington State Employment Security Department

Washington Workforce Development Award   


ESD/DVA Military Spouse Listening Sessions and Readout

Military spouses endure frequent career disruptions due to regularly mandated moves, known as permanent changes of station (PCS). The resulting chronic unemployment and underemployment is an affront to the dignity of military families, creates a national security risk by impacting military recruitment and retention, and generates economic distress on communities who must provide support for lowincome military families. In response, the Employment Security Department (ESD) and Department of Veterans Affairs (DVA) have worked with the state military installations and other partners to expand and improve military spouse employment services. Washington state efforts have been four-pronged, including: (1) co-locating and coordinating installation and state spouse employment programs; (2) coordinating warm handoffs of PCSing spouses with Military OneSource and other national American Job Centers (AJCs); (3) signing a comprehensive executive order on military family support; and (4) conducting a military spouse listening tour.

Provide a statement of results, accomplishments, impacts, and any other appropriate information that demonstrates why the nominee's efforts described in question #1 were an exceptional contribution. Response (400 word limit).

State / Department of Defense (DOD) services coordination: Joint Base Lewis-McChord’s (JBLM) DOD spouse employment program is now housed at the on-base AJC, and ESD has an onsite spouse specialist. Two local workforce boards also have onsite staff trained to provide spouse services, and coordinate fellowship programs with nonprofit partners. Similarly, other base-adjacent AJCs coordinate spouse services with DOD family readiness programs.

Upstream partnerships: ESD Commissioner Suzi LeVine engaged DOD’s Military OneSource (MOS), a worldwide military family program, to develop a warm handoff system to connect PCSing spouses with employment resources in other base employment centers prior to arrival. The partnership has been expanded to include warm handoffs with other base-adjacent AJCs across the nation.

Executive Order 19-01 (attached) is a comprehensive directive that expands veteran employment resources to military spouses, including hiring campaigns, credentialing, spouse-owned businesses, data-sharing and affinity groups. The EO launch in May 2019 was accompanied with aHire a Military Spouse Month proclamation issued by Gov. Jay Inslee.

Military spouse listening sessions were held during summer 2019 at Washington’s six major military installations. The ESD commissioner and WDVA director talked with military spouses, advocates and regional leaders about employment challenges and solutions. A report (attached) was generated and forwarded to state and federal leaders and to elected officials for further action.

Provide a brief description of the nominee's significant contributions in any one of the other two areas listed under "criteria" that you did not focus on above. Response (400 word limit).

Washington state’s military spouse initiative has created nationwide attention and impact. Along with Washington, 10 other NASWA Veteran Committee member states are participating in the Military OneSource partnership to provide warm handoffs for military families inbound to 34 military bases. The long-term goal is for nationwide expansion. Nationwide base-adjacent AJC referrals will make the entire network more robust. Washington state is collaborating with local and national employers to support the U.S. Chambers of Commerce’s Military Spouse Economic Empowerment Zone (MSEEZ) initiative, a growing partnership currently in 10 states that focuses on military spouse employment best practices. Two local zones have been created. Washington was the first to create a statewide zone. Military spouse listening sessions were attended by federal elected officials and staff, and the report and legislative recommendations (attached) have been shared. Sen. Murray, Rep. Smith and others have expressed interest in sponsoring military spouse employment legislation based on the recommendations.

Last, the data collected has influenced national strategic agendas. This includes the NASWA Veterans Affairs Committee, which includes military spouse employment in its 2020 strategic focus in collaboration with the National Association of State Directors of Veterans Affairs.


Examples of work 

WA - Sample 1 - Website.docx 2020.pdf (2.8MB)
WA - MilSpouse ListeningSessions_SummaryReport 2020.pdf (1MB)
WA - MilSpouse Legislative Recommendations 2020.pdf (539KB)
WA - Military Spouses Infographic 2020.pdf (552.1KB)
WA - Executive Order 19-01 2020.pdf (2MB)
WA - NASWA Award Nomination Surveys - Pinnacle .pdf (71.8KB)