The Armed Forces Covenant can support spouses/partners in their career progression

April 4, 2017

There are specific initiatives under the Armed Forces Covenant to support family life in the Armed Forces and for veteran families. Spouses can also get support in fulfilling their career ambitions.

Audrey Nealon, Army spouse:

Audrey Nealon, Army Spouse, on holiday with her family.
Audrey Nealon, Army spouse, on holiday with her family.

“16 years or so ago, the prospect of marrying a dashing young Army officer seemed terribly glamorous and exciting! I was working for a Fund Management company at the time managing a team of unit trust dealers, overseeing the day-to-day running of our call centre. I had a reasonable amount of responsibility and was paid accordingly for my efforts. What could possibly go wrong?

If you had told me then that during the course of the next 16 years, I would give up several well-paid jobs to move house 7 times, live in 4 different countries, have 2 children in different continents, have to live alone for about 3 years – sometimes as a single parent – while my husband was deployed on numerous exercises, have operational deployments whilst changing jobs 11 times, I may just not have bothered to turn up for the wedding!

As military spouses, the obstacles we face are many and far-reaching in consequence. When used properly, the Armed Forces Covenant can be a very powerful tool to support you and your family, particularly when you move home. The Covenant definitely helped me access local services and get school places for my girls when we moved into a new area. It can also help military spouses find a Forces-friendly employer, like mine, that has signed the Covenant and pledged to support the Armed Forces community.

Finding my current role at the Army Families Federation wasn’t easy. 9 years after I left my last salaried job in the UK, I decided to seek gainful employment once again. We had been overseas for 6 years. I had two young children so realistically I would have to seek part-time employment as I did not have the luxury of having family nearby to take up the slack for me when my husband was deployed, working away from home or putting in ridiculously long hours in central London. I was naïve enough to think that because of the experience I had gained with previous employers like Prudential, BZW Lloyds and other blue chip companies that securing a suitable position would be without effort. I couldn’t have been more wrong!

In 14 months of job-hunting the first organisation to even offer me an interview was the Army Families Federation. Obviously the 9-year gap on my CV was not an attractive prospect for many of the other organisations I had applied to. I got that job at the Army Families Federation. I may not have had a paid job for 9 years, but I had all my skills from my previous jobs and invaluable experience of being a military wife and a parent. Experience that can always be drawn on at work, whatever your job. I am currently home-based, which means that I am confidently able to balance the demands of a parent with my busy workload. I am often the only parent at home for weeks at a time. Having this flexibility and a very supportive line manager makes this far less stressful.”

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