As a military spouse and civilian, you may not feel like your actions can affect your husband’s career, but they can and do.
Racking up financial debt, breaking the law, having questionable habits and acting inappropriately can all strip your spouse of their security clearance and prevent them from promotion, moving to desirable duty stations and more.
Think that sounds far-fetched or embellished? Think again.
Each month the Defense Office of Hearings & Appeals (DOHA) releases the results of security clearance rejection hearings and appeals. Each case appealed is described in detail and many of the security clearance withdrawals are listed as due to the service member’s negligence with respect to the actions of their military spouse.
How can a military spouse cause a service member to lose security clearance?
When the government issues a security clearance they are giving that person access to classified information. While it is only granted to the individual, it is a process that includes the military spouse. Their information is included on background investigation paperwork and they can be interviewed. Their actions reflect the service member’s judgment.
For example, one case in which a security clearance was denied was when a military spouse racked up $50,000 in consumer debt. The judge specifically said that allowing his wife to “manage all finances was an example of poor judgment, and not the level of responsibility expected of a clearance holder.”
It isn’t just poor financial management by a military spouse that can get a service member in trouble. Your career field and poor habits can also lead to a clearance being revoked.
Another case involved a military spouse working at a recreational marijuana store in Denver, where it is legal to use such substance. Federal law overrules state law in this case, however. Marijuana is still considered a controlled substance and knowing of intentional possession is illegal even if the person has no plan to use or sell it.
In the eyes of the federal government, your (the service member’s) ability to maintain a relationship of trust, understanding and integrity with your spouse is a reflection of your ability to do so with Uncle Sam.
If a service member’s security clearance is pulled it can change their career path. They could be taken off of their team and placed on administrative leave or simply moved to another position. This setback could also prevent them from getting orders to desirable duty stations or even from rising in rank.
If nothing else, it will at least land them in a counseling meeting with a superior which could be a written counseling. A written counseling can take away points from promotion or rank a service member further down in the line-up for promotion.
There are other actions that a military spouse could take that would harm their service member’s career. While it isn’t suppose to influence duty assignments or promotion, a military spouse’s actions in reality can hinder the service member from receiving ideal duty stations or moving up in rank because after all, superiors are human and will remember how a service member’s military spouse has acted, if it is poorly.
Constantly harassing the command to send home a service member from deployment or showing up at the installation with gossip and being a distraction can make a difference. A service member is required to follow the chain of command and if a military spouse talks to a higher ranking person about problems this could reflect poorly upon the service member.
Having an affair with another service member in your spouse’s unit, will make a difference as well. This also falls under the domain of integrity. If the family lives on an installation and the military spouse doesn’t follow the rules of housing, they may be removed from the living situation. Having base privileges revoked will also look poorly upon the service member.
On the flip side, being part of the Family Readiness Group (FRG) might help. If the commanding officer really feels like the military spouse has had a substantially positive impact on the morale of families they may want to keep the service member around and look more favorably upon them. The opposite could be true as well.
Doing nothing at all, not being part of command events for example, most likely will have no influence on your spouse’s career.
If you want to see your service member succeed, obey the law, manage your family’s finances sufficiently, keep your morals in check and help out where you can. The one consistency with the military is that everything and anything can change at any time. Go with the flow and be a positive role model to other military spouses.