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ARLINGTON, Va. — It’s a bit of an ironic twist for congressional aide Ilka Regino, who, while single, help draft legislation that now she will use as a military spouse.

Several years ago, Regino spent countless hours working for her former boss, Rep. Ellen Tauscher, D-Calif., to help draft a bill that now links the Departments of Defense and Labor to provide civilian employment connections to servicemembers’ families and those leaving military service.

“Who knew one day I’d be using those services myself,” said Regino, 30, who married a Marine a year and a half ago and will use the employment outreach information and services to keep herself employed when her husband gets new orders.

The agencies’ partnership important because “it can help spouses get steered toward careers that are compatible with frequent relocations,” Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said last week.

A Memorandum of Understanding signed July 11 joins the departments in providing services in three key areas: connections to the civilian work force, access to labor laws that might affect the re-employment of servicemembers and reservists returning from active duty, and information about licensing and certification requirements that vary from state to state.

“The service … is a step in the right direction. The Department of Labor has a framework in place that can now complement anything the DOD has — job banks and networks and employers — that can be shared with military spouses,” said Lisa Clay, a military spouse of two years.

Job opportunities for spouses vary greatly from one duty station to another.

“That’s where the breakdown in the process is,” Clay said. The partnership aims to lessen the challenges by providing job-seeking spouses and troops leaving the service an inclusive listing of companies seeking employees

A main goal of the partnership is to give greater job opportunities access to military personnel and their families by persuading the civilian work force and corporate America to hire those with military links.

“We are so proud of our men and women in uniform,” Labor Department Secretary Elaine Chao said last week. “Now it’s our turn to support them by providing separating servicemembers, military spouses and veterans with the help they need to succeed in the work force.”

Military spouses and servicemembers can access a Labor Department-sponsored job bank and the 3,900 career resource centers throughout the nation at www.milspouse.org, which provides links for employment opportunities, training and education.

“We are committed to connecting these men and women with employers who are very eager to tap their dedication, their talent and their skills,” Chao said. “We’ve got programs to give separating servicemembers and veterans a head start as they build new careers and bright futures for themselves and their families.”

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