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Welcome to the MilHousing Nation Podcast, where we are having conversations that matter for wherever the military has taken you. We’re bringing you stories from real military spouses who not only understand the challenges. They are harnessing the opportunities to build lives they can love. From new spouses to veteran spouses, you’ll get tips, tricks, and actionable steps that will help you along your military life journey.
Welcome, everyone. This is Heather Campbell. And I am so thankful that you have joined us today on the MilHousing Nation Podcast, where we dive into the uniqueness of the military family journey by helping you build a life, a community, and a home you love when you are not in control of where you will call home next.
Today’s episode is going to be so exciting. This is something that is close to my heart as a military spouse. I want to share some information with you guys about how to support military spouses and veteran-owned businesses.
Before we get started today sponsors are Armed Forces Insurance and Armed Forces Bank. And we could not do the things that we do at the MilHousing Network and here on the middle housing nation podcast without all of their support. So we will make sure to tell you more about them later in today’s episode. Now, as we get into this before we started talking about these businesses, and where you guys can support them and how you can learn more about them.
I want to tell you a little bit about military spouse unemployment. We’ve got lots of information about veteran businesses, about veteran post-military life and how to get jobs, and veteran unemployment. That information has been documented for a number of years. But we have this new topic that sort of come up with military spouses and how difficult it is to basically keep a job as a military spouse. So for those of you who are not aware, a little tidbit for you, according to a Hiring Our Heroes Military Spouse Employment summit earlier in 2022, they stated that 38% of military spouses are reporting unemployment. Okay, now this number has hovered around 25% for the last decade or so. So this isn’t a new problem. It’s just kind of a new topic of conversation if you will.
Now, in comparison, as we know, the economy has been crazy. It’s been a hard couple of years coming out of the pandemic, and during the pandemic, coming out of it. And then now, with inflation and everything going on in the economy, we don’t want to minimize that everybody is having a more difficult time than we did before. But for comparison, in February of 2022, the unemployment numbers for the United States were about 3.8%. Now, remember, I said that, that Hiring Our Heroes number that they found is 38%. Okay, so that’s ten times. So military spouses, according to these numbers, are ten times more likely to be unemployed.
Now, we also know that 66% of United States households report that dual income is necessary to function in today’s economy to function in society. So where does that leave us as military spouses? Right, we are having a difficult time getting jobs. Well, one option that is out there is entrepreneurship. And this one is really, really exciting. And I want to specifically plug two organizations that are doing amazing things for military spouses who are seeking entrepreneurship. The first one is the Association of Military Spouse Entrepreneurs. Now this organization has been doing amazing things, from training entrepreneurs, and creating a community. There’s a very active Slack channel; the entire team over there has done amazing things at both pushing out the message of military spouse entrepreneurship, but also in equipping military spouses to learn about entrepreneurship.
Now, we also have through the Small Business Administration and the US Chamber of Commerce, they’ve actually given us as military spouses our own version of a chamber of commerce; we have a military spouse Chamber of Commerce, right? So you hear about small business administration or your local town’s Chamber of Commerce, we actually have one for military spouses. Now, what’s amazing with the Military Spouse Chamber of Commerce, is that many of them are entrepreneurs themselves or are supporters of entrepreneurs. But they are training different companies on how to be entrepreneurs or connecting them with resources. They even have a military spouse-owned certification. Okay, so if you have a military spouse-owned business, you can go through their program. As I believe very, very low cost, I think it’s actually free of charge. I will need to double-check.
But, you can go into the Military Spouse Chamber of Commerce and get the certification to say, Hey, I am officially certified as a military spouse-owned business. Now, as amazing as these organizations are, that doesn’t help those of us who want to support them. Right. So let’s talk about where we can find information about military spouse businesses. We’ve got this this unemployment difficulty. We have military spouses who are exploring entrepreneurship and freelance careers; where can we find them?
One of the places that you can go if you have access to your local military installation, there’s more many installations around the world that carry the Stars and Stripes magazine, the Stars and Stripes paper, well, they come out regularly with a military spouse entrepreneurship guide. And coming up soon will be the fifth edition. And when you flip through this guide, there is a listing of hundreds of military spouse-owned businesses and entrepreneurship opportunities where military spouses are working in health care, are working in consulting, are working in advertising, are working in marketing, are working in public relations are working in human resources. All of these different things are listed in there by category.
So if you’re looking for somebody who does a specific skill or specific trade, you can go right into this entrepreneurship guide, and you can find them. Now, AMSE has partnered with Stars and Stripes, the Association of Military Spouse Entrepreneurs, has partnered with Stars and Stripes to bring this entrepreneurship guide in as part of that and making it accessible to military spouses everywhere and to our military and veteran community. They have made it accessible online. So just a quick Google search, or you can go to the AMSE website, or Stars and Stripes, any of those places, and you can find a digital copy of this entrepreneurship guide, and you can search through it for the things that you are looking for. Similarly, you can go to the Military Spouse Chamber of Commerce, and find out what businesses have already gotten this certification right.
Now, the last place that I would send you to look for military spouse, specifically, military spouse-owned businesses, would be an eCommerce site called Spouse-ly. Now you spell that just like it sounds spouse, and then l y at the end Spouse-ly. Now what’s interesting with the Spouse-ly team and the vision that Monica Fullerton had with this organization is creating an eCommerce space that is specifically dedicated to military and first responder, spouse-owned businesses and saying, hey, it’s very similar to an Amazon or to an Etsy where you can go in you can search by topic, you can search by product, and say I want someone who can create this sort of thing for me. Then you can go to their shop, you can put in your orders, all of that is all in house on that website. But it gives military spouses an opportunity to feature their services. Now many military spouses have their products and services available on other eCommerce sites.
But what’s great about Spouse-ly is that it is specifically dedicated to our community, so you know that no matter what business you are finding within their eCommerce platform, it is going to be a military spouse or first responder spouse-owned business. So that is a really really easy way to find when you’re looking for those special gifts. When you’re looking for something to order and say hey, I want my dollars to go towards a military family. That is one way that you know for sure you are going to find a military or first responder family there on Spouse-ly.
Now let’s pause for just a minute and I want to hear a little bit more about today’s sponsors Armed Forces Bank and Armed Forces Insurance.
A full-service military bank committed to serving those who served since 1907. Armed Forces Bank provides a vast array of affordable and easily accessible financial products to both active and retired military and civilian clients in all 50 states and across the world. When you’re in the military, your needs are different, and your banking should be too. That’s why no matter where you are stationed in the world Armed Forces Bank strives to make everything from banking solutions to financial advice and personal valuable and convenient for you with numerous services, including online and mobile banking tools to help you bank on your schedule.
Okay, welcome back, guys. Again, we are talking about military spouse and veteran-owned businesses, and how we, out in the economy, out in our communities, can support them. Now we have AMSE, which we talked about, the Association of Military Spouse Entrepreneurs, and the Military Spouse Chamber of Commerce are both equipping this community and educating this community to start their own businesses to be their own boss and to create job opportunities that move with them as they move, which is one of the biggest difficulties within our military community. But we also have our veterans, we have our veterans who have already completed their service to our country. And they also have a very, very wide entrepreneurship community.
Now one of the places you can go, if you are a veteran interested in learning more about having a small business and about starting your own business is to go to the US Small Business Administration, among other places. A quick Google search will bring up a plethora of options. But when you go to the US Small Business email@example.com you can find information about veteran owned businesses about acquiring funding to start your business, training to start your business, and even how to connect in a community of organizations that will mentor you. Now. Both AMSE and military spouse Chamber of Commerce have lots of connections and lots of partners that are helping start to offer this same service to military spouses.
Again, the veteran space has been talked about for a number of years but this military spouse space is still kind of new, we are still just learning about what are the needs of military spouses when it comes to entrepreneurship. Now again, you can also go to Spouse-ly, if you’re looking for a product or a service, or maybe a special gift, I recommend going to Spouse-ly and finding these businesses and ordering from one of them.
And my very favorite, and one that you guys will appreciate, is to go to your local community and just start asking around. We all know that word of mouth travels fast, right? And you can read a review online about something, but if your neighbor or your kid’s friend’s mom, or you know, the someone from your church, if somebody recommends to a contractor to you, or business to you, or service to you, you’re more likely to consider that business or that product or that service, right? We know that. So start asking in your community, ask on your local community pages, “Hey, I’m looking for this service. I’d like to support a military spouse or veteran-owned business,” right? It’s just something as simple as that.
Now, be prepared. If you’re not in a military community, some people might give you some flack that you know, you have a preference for supporting your own community. But when we know the difficulties that our veterans have in seeking employment and building entrepreneurship, and similarly for our military spouses, we have difficulty in seeking employment and building entrepreneurship. It is noble to want to support these men and women as they are venturing out and starting their own businesses.
So ask on your social media pages, ask for referrals, ask your friends, ask your colleagues ask people from previous bases. And then also when you work with a military spouse or a veteran-owned business, pass along that word, put those reviews on Yelp. Put those reviews in your local social media pages, and make sure that you are communicating whether or not you’ve had a great experience with a business. Especially small businesses, it’s difficult to handle marketing and public relations and all of these things, especially if you’re in a realm that is up against big organizations, right. So any word of mouth that you can share about businesses that you’ve worked with is really going to help elevate those entrepreneurs in their venture with whatever it is that they’re working on.
Now, again, to review, we have multiple organizations that are working towards veteran entrepreneurship and helping support veteran-owned businesses. You can do a quick search to find some of those, and we will be sure to include some of our favorite sites in the show notes. And also, we will include those resources for military spouse-owned businesses where you can find those products and the different organizations that are helping to support military spouse entrepreneurs as they venture out into owning their own businesses.
And of course, if you are looking for real estate help and you’re looking to support a military-connected realtor or real estate professional, please consider looking at the MilHousing Network. Come to our website, check us out, see the connections that we’ve already vetted, that we can provide to you, and say, Hey, we trust these professionals in these different locations, and we would love to recommend them to you. So the more you know, the more that you learn, the more you can help support your local military and veteran-owned businesses. And you can also promote on a national scale as well as so many different products and services have gone virtual.
Thank you all so much for being a part of the MilHousing Nation. We appreciate you. The MilHousing Nation is where you always have a community, no matter where you are stationed.
Stars and Strips: https://www.stripes.com/
Armed Forces Insurance: www.AFI.org
Armed Forces Bank: https://www.afbank.com/
Hire our Heroes: https://www.hiringourheroes.org/
Military Spouse Chamber of Commerce: https://milspousechamber.org/