President Donald Trump instituted a federal hiring freeze in January. Now, military families are feeling the effects of this executive order.
How the Federal Hiring Freeze Impacts Military Families and Veterans
Impact on Base Services
Recently, 2 memos from different Army child care facilities have been released. The Child Development Centers (CDC) at Fort Knox and the Army garrison in Wiesbaden, Germany, have ended some of their child care programs due to staffing shortages. Both documents specifically cited the federal hiring freeze, combined with typical staff illnesses and normal staff attrition, as the reason behind the program closures.
In other bases around the world, military families are also seeing reduced hours and programs at their CDCs. Families in Okinawa, Japan, were told that hourly care programs will be suspended due to the hiring freeze.
“The CDC has stopped the drop-in child care,” shared Madalyn Sandstrom. “So now I have to look to friends, and hope for the best. The wait list for some age groups for full-time child care at the closest CDC is one year!”
The hiring freeze is affecting the DoD’s ability to conduct business as usual, according to a recent statement released by MCCS Camp LeJeune-New River. This will affect hours of services at this particular base as well as MCCS LeJeune’s ability to hire new staff members. Camp LeJeune is one of the largest Marine Corps installations. This statement could indicate impacts at other Marine Corps’ installations, as well as similar services at other military bases.
Military Spouses Face Hiring Delays
Military spouses are seeing an impact on their job opportunities. BreAnn Constantineau has had to suspend her federal job search indefinitely.
“I had started searching just before the freeze so that I could time my application to try and start a job once my kids start school in fall,” Constantineau commented. “Now with the freeze, I’m stalled. I’m also really concerned that once it’s lifted, the sheer volume of applications is going to put a real drain on the HR departments, causing even more delays.”
Spouses that were already in the application and hiring process have also had complications.
“I applied for the substitute teacher position back in October,” said Veronica Johnessee. “(I) finally got the call for fingerprints and background check the first week of January. (I) went for my fingerprints and the next day I was supposed to get the background check link via email. Instead, the hiring freeze was on the news. So now I wait.”
Johnessee’s hiring delay also impacts the students and teachers in the DoD Education Activity (DoDEA). Teachers may lack coverage to take sick days or attend professional development sessions. This means that teachers at DoDEA schools may feel obligated to work while ill. Due to lack of coverage, some non-core content area classes may be rescheduled or canceled to fill grade level classroom needs.
Military treatment facilities are also feeling the crunch from the hiring freeze. Some medical facilities are unable to hire new staff. Danielle Olmsted was in the interview process for a nursing position at Camp Foster’s Naval Hospital, but her hiring has been put on hold.
“I had an interview and was told at the interview that they wanted to hire me as a nurse,” explained Olmsted. “I knew I would have to wait awhile, since it already takes months to get someone hired and start working. Now, who knows how long it will be? I feel as though I’m in limbo, and I know the hospital can use nurses!”
Impact on Veteran Hires
According to the Washington Post, veterans make up 31% of the total federal workforce. Veterans receive preference for government positions.
With the hiring freeze, federal agencies and departments will now be unable to fill open positions. This could leave many veterans waiting even longer. The federal hiring process can take weeks or months to finalize under normal operating conditions. This is due to extensive background checks and paperwork processing.
Exemptions for DoD Positions
There are some exemptions in place to allow for normal operation in certain DoD positions and departments. Military personnel should not be impacted and child care positions are also supposed to be out of bounds as well. Firefighters and first responders, as well as intelligence personnel and positions having a direct impact on military missions, are also exempt.
However, there is not an exemption in place to hire people into the human resources department of the DoD. This could impact the speed of the hiring process for exempted positions and departments. As noted above, this could create backlogs for those who have already received job offers.