According to the Blue Star Families' Military Family Lifestyle Survey 2010 (3,634 military families surveyed), 68 percent of respondents had volunteered in the last year. A direct comparison with civilian volunteers isn't possible given the difference in definitions and populations, but the Corporation for National and Community Service indicated that in 2009 the national volunteer rate was just under 27 percent.
The majority of military-affiliated volunteers carve out less than ten hours a month in any one category of donated time (to military non-profits or church, for example). However, 9 percent of the respondents who declared hours put in more than thirty hours per month - equivalent to a part-time job.
This probably isn't a surprise to you as we all know that the military would not run if it weren't for volunteers - both in and out of uniform. Volunteering provides valuable community services so more money can be spent on organizational/cause related improvements. The estimated value of a volunteer's time in 2011 was $21.79 per hour.
For spouses of military members finding full-time employment that would pay $21.79+ an hour is at best, difficult. Many find themselves searching and searching for a job and give up on their dreams of a career while their servicemember fills his/her commitment. To them I say...
"Life is not about waiting for the storms to pass...it's about learning how to dance in the rain!"
- Vivian Greene
Learning to "dance in the rain" of finding employment and building a career is what led me to what I do today. It all started with volunteering. There are many motivations for selecting a place to offer your services pro bono. It is not selfish in the least for those motivations to include your desire to benefit your professional resume, to gain personal reference, to use your existing skills in a productive way, to develop new skills, or to broaden your network in a field that you desire a career - especially one for which you have trained.
These are all perfectly good reasons to volunteer - scratch that, they're perfectly GREAT reasons! Many employers and schools look favorably on volunteer experience and devotion to duty. You can meet professionals in the field you wish to work that will give you valuable references when it comes to employment time. Plus, you can test out a career and see if it's a good fit for you.
If you're a hard worker - like many military spouses - there is no better way to show an employer that you are good at what you do, and more so that you are passionate about the job.
If you're one of many military spouses currently seeking employment consider investing your time into volunteering for an organization. Research your organizations and opportunities before committing and be sure they're a good fit for the goal at the end of the journey - employment. It takes some elbow grease, but that volunteer work will end up doing much more than improving your resume or landing you a job - you just might find yourself dancing.
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