WASHINGTON, Nov. 11, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) and Department of Defense (DoD) today announced the creation of an online forum for military spouse entrepreneurs through the DoD Spouse Education and Career Opportunities Program. The group will enable military spouses to connect with qualified and experienced business mentors through the social network site LinkedIn.
Military spouses can request to join the group immediately at: https://www.linkedin.com/groups/8579258. Starting January 2, 2017, SBA-affiliated mentors, military spouse business owners, and DoD certified career counselors will use this platform to share information, offer advice, and answer questions on a rotating basis related to business ownership from the military spouse community. "SBA offers many resources for military spouses who are considering self-employment through small business ownership," said Barbara Carson, Associate Administrator of the SBA Office of Veterans Business Development. "I know first-hand the employment barriers that military spouses face. SBA is dedicated to working with our partners to help military spouses find meaningful, sustainable employment through small business ownership." Carson is an Air Force Reserve officer and a military spouse of an active duty service member. She previously operated a small business while stationed abroad. There are currently more than 1 million military spouses, 665,000 of which are active duty spouses. Despite high education and career qualifications, military spouses face a 23 percent unemployment rate and a 25 percent wage gap compared to civilian counterparts. An estimated 85 percent of military spouses seek employment, yet frequent military relocations, deployments, isolated duty stations, lack of extended family support, and international duty assignments can make it challenging for them to launch and maintain a rewarding career. Entrepreneurship offers an employment solution for some spouses, providing opportunities for portable careers, leadership, networking, self-determination, flexibility, and growth.