Resilience and agility, traits any employer would want, are two common characteristics of military spouses.
“They’re self-starters and self-reliant,” said Kylee Durant, USO Vice President for Transition Technology and Innovation Programs, and the wife of a U.S. Army sergeant. “They adapt very quickly and react to situations very well.”
Unfortunately, two other words describe many military spouses – unemployed or underemployed. The unemployment rate for those married to a service member is close to 20 percent, which is far greater than the national rate of 4.5 percent, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Underemployment is at about 38 percent, compared with 6 percent for civilian spouses with similar levels of education.
Recognizing the need for work-from-home careers to serve customers, Amazon is creating 5,000 new Virtual Customer Service jobs in the year ahead.
“One of the great things about our Virtual Customer Service program is that it allows military spouses to move with their family as they need to, and keep their job and stay with Amazon, throughout that process,” said Tom Weiland, VP of Worldwide Customer Service, who began his career with Amazon almost 20 years ago as a temporary customer service associate.
The 5,000 new work-from-home jobs are part of Amazon’s overall plan to create 30,000 part-time roles in 2017. The company also expects to create 100,000 full-time jobs by the summer of 2018. In addition, Amazon currently employs more than 10,000 military veterans, and plans to hire and train an additional 25,000 veterans and military spouses by 2021.
“Amazon’s commitment, and taking an intentional step around military spouse employment, truly shows that they do understand the challenges that the community faces,” said Durant. “To have an innovator like Amazon understand the need – the deep need – that military spouses have for employment says to me they are a catalyst for greater societal change in this country.”
Sabrina Tierce has been able to grow her career with Amazon. She joined the company six years ago when her family relocated from central California to Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington state, where her husband is stationed as an Army medic. After initially responding to Amazon customer service calls, she became a team manager. Tierce now leads 15 Amazon customer service associates who also work from home in locations across the U.S.
“Anything can happen when you’re a military spouse. My husband could get called away tomorrow. He could get called away in an hour,” she said. “To have the flexibility of knowing I’m able to keep working and take care of my daughter is convenient and helpful for my peace of mind.”
“There are very few opportunities for military spouses who might not be here six months from now, or a year from now,” said Spc. Joshua Tierce. “Knowing that Sabrina is able to take care of things around the house if I’m gone, and might be able to take her job with her if we have to relocate, has made all the difference in the world.”