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Tony Evers, Governor
Caleb Frostman, Secretary

Department of Workforce Development
Secretary's Office

201 E. Washington Avenue
P.O. Box 7946
Madison, WI 53707-7946
Telephone: (608) 266-3131
Fax: (608) 266-1784
Email: sec@dwd.wisconsin.gov

Friday, February 15, 2019
CONTACT: DWD Communications, 608-266-2722
On the Web: http://dwd.wisconsin.gov/news/
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On Twitter: @WIWorkforce

Wisconsin State Agencies and Community Partners Come Together to Discuss Military Spouse Economic Empowerment Zone at a Community Engagement Event

MADISON – Yesterday, the Department of Workforce Development (DWD), Department of Veteran Affairs (WDVA), Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) and the Wisconsin Veterans Chamber of Commerce partnered together for a community engagement event to bring the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s Hiring Our Heroes Military Spouse Economic Empowerment Zone (MSEEZ) program to Wisconsin.

"As a veteran and military spouse myself, empowering and caring for military spouses in our state is close to my heart," said WDVA Secretary-designee Mary Kolar. "Veterans and their entire families play an incredibly important role in the makeup of our state and to each community they live in. They add value. By raising awareness, helping them receive the benefits they earned and making sure all their needs are met, we continue to serve."

The MSEEZ program focuses on the spouses of military personnel and is designed to combat the economic impact military spouses' unemployment or underemployment have on military families. Military spouses are often overlooked as candidates because their resumes contain gaps in employment or have multiple short-term positions due to the military's inherent requirement for frequent relocations. Almost 92 percent of military spouses are female and the unemployment rate for this population is four times the national average. While Wisconsin is not home to an active duty base, similar challenges are faced by Wisconsin's numerous National Guard and Reserve families.

"Make no mistake, military spouses have served this country and have made sacrifices that must be acknowledged and appreciated," said DWD Secretary-designee Caleb Frostman. "Many have sacrificed so much, both personally and professionally. The MSEEZ program is just one way we can support them."

Yesterday's event laid the groundwork for Wisconsin to be designated as a Military Spouse Economic Empowerment Zone, which is scheduled for June 4, 2019. This is the first such designation in the country, focusing on spouses of National Guard and Reserve service members. The designation will bring together local and national employers, business leaders, educational institutions and community resources to advance military spouse workforce entry and to commit to hiring military spouses in Wisconsin.

"We are proud to partner with Wisconsin’s National Guard and Reserve families, community organizations and other state leaders at the 'Wisconsin Loves its Military Spouses' event," said Tricia Braun, WEDC Chief Operating Officer. "We look forward to the next steps in the MSEEZ designation process to enhance and improve employment opportunities for Wisconsin’s military spouses."