This year's Virtual Military Spouse Symposium — scheduled for April 27-29 — is geared for male and female spouses to learn about career development and well-being, whether they're students or veteran careerists, Military OneSource's director for military community support programs said.
Lee Kelley said the symposiums, which began five years ago with a focus on education and careers, have always been interspersed with issues surrounding well-being that speak to the holistic needs of military spouses.
"We want to provide sessions to military spouses that are going to recharge them, inspire them, and give them the tools that they need as they take steps [toward their goals]," she said. "We want to give them an opportunity to engage virtually — not only with our subject matter experts — but with military spouses themselves and create that community space for a few days that's solely set aside for military spouses."
A worldwide endeavor, Kelley said 3,500 spouses from 15 nations attended last year. It's for military spouses at any stage of their military life, she added.
Employment guidance will focus on federal and private-sector jobs, including "portable" careers that can go from one duty station to another, such as home-based businesses. The symposium will also highlight how military spouses can access career opportunities through the Defense Department's Military Spouse Employment Partnership, which includes more than 500 companies and corporations, Kelley said.
The symposium's first two days will focus on sessions about career development and well-being; a relationship summit follows on the last day.
The relationship summit is a time for military spouses to focus solely on intimate-partner relationships and will begin with a discussion by Army Gen. Michael X. Garrett, commanding general of the Army Forces Command, and his wife about their experiences in the military, the challenges they've faced, and the resources they have accessed along the way, Kelley said.
A new segment will address finding one's passion, she said, adding that military spouses can expect an opportunity for self-reflection.
"I think they will enjoy some of the tools that are introduced in the Find Your Passion session," Kelley said. "The great thing about the resources of the Department of Defense is some of our career assessments are really geared toward helping military spouses recognize skill sets they might not even have known they have … [It's] really a chance to engage online with a community around the information tools, resources and ideas that will, hopefully, empower military spouses to find what's going to be most fulfilling to them."
Trends in writing resumes also will be among the featured topics and will include the latest information and strategies regarding resumes and tangible strategies for updating a resume and ensuring that it reflects a job applicant's strengths in a way that will be beneficial.
Additionally, Kelley said the symposium's chat pod always provides an opportunity to share experiences with other spouses.
"You see military spouses connecting with each other from around the world with shared interests, having had shared experiences. Every morning, when we start the symposium, we ask military spouses where they're joining us from, and it is remarkable to see military spouses from all over the country and all over the world and then to see other spouses engaging, saying, 'Oh, I just came from Ramstein,' or 'I'm heading there next month.' You see those connections being made," she added.
"If you're a military spouse, we want to see you there," Kelley said of the symposium. "If you're a military spouse, we want you to join us online April 27 to 29. We want you to be a part of this online community. Join the thousands of spouses who have taken part in the symposium in years past. No matter what country you are joining from, we want you there with us lending your voice to the discussion and the ideas."
To register for the Virtual Military Spouse Symposium, click here.