Editor’s Note: MSJDN asked its members to help us spotlight employers that are going above and beyond for military spouse attorneys. Each employer in this series was nominated for MSJDN’s Members’ Choice Award for doing just that, by members who told us in their own words about the awesomeness of their employers. MSJDN is thrilled to tell these employer stories as a way of expressing our gratitude for supporting military spouses as they build careers in the legal profession.

The MSJDN Members’ Choice Award recipient will be announced at MSJDN’s Annual Reception in Washington, D.C. on May 17.

By Johanna Thibault

As military spouse attorneys moving from one assignment to another, the first place to look for a job at our new duty station is often the Judge Advocate General’s office. This is particularly the case when stationed in a remote location. While this might seem an obvious place to inquire, it is not always the easiest place to find an attorney position. According to Johanna Heeley, the Office of the Staff Judge Advocate (OSJA) at US Army Garrison Fort Belvoir is different. The Fort Belvoir OSJA shows its support for military spouses in the workforce through several initiatives to hire and encourage the continued professional development of military spouses.

The Fort Belvoir OSJA hires military spouse attorneys in proportionately significant numbers. According to Heeley, “out of OSJA Fort Belvoir’s nine civilian attorneys, five are military spouse attorneys working in disciplines from legal assistance to employment law.” This high percentage of military spouses demonstrates the OSJA’s ability to recognize the unique skill set of military spouse attorneys and embrace them as part of the team at the OSJA.

In addition to hiring, OSJA Fort Belvoir also supports military spouse attorney career development through training and promotion. “OSJA Fort Belvoir recognizes the challenges that military life can present and promotes work life balance accordingly,” says Heeley.

The Army has long recognized that employing qualified military spouses is good policy. Programs supporting professional military spouses foster force readiness and retention. In addition to the Department of Defense’s Military Spouse Preference program, which confers a hiring advantage to those attorney spouses determined to be among the best qualified for competitively announced positions, the Army JAG Corps has instituted a procedure to consider eligible spouses for non-competitive attorney appointments. A database of eligible attorney spouses is maintained by the Office of The Judge Advocate General (OTJAG) for referral to hiring officials. Through the database and the hard work of OTJAG employees like Lyndsey Lujan (also a military spouse attorney), the Department of the Army has offered positions to numerous military spouse attorneys since 2013.  OTJAG was award the 2015 MSJDN Homefront to Hired Award in recognition of this meaningful support for career-minded military spouses.

MSJDN is pleased to recognize the continuing support from the Army legal community and the well-deserved nomination of the Fort Belvoir Judge Advocate for the 2018 Members’ Choice Award!

Celebrate the recipient of the MSJDN Members’ Choice Award at the 2018 Annual Reception in Washington, D.C. on May 17th. Tickets and information available here.