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SSMCP is hard at work for JBLLM

Three-pronged goal for 2023

Many military spouses are working professionals, they are plagued with some of the highest unemployment rates in the country. A new study hopes to discover ways to mitigate the barriers with community partners. Photo credit: Stock photo

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Since its founding in 2011, the South Sound Military and Communities Partnership (SSMCP) has focused on undertaking projects in support of infrastructure and regional improvements in support of military readiness and Joint Base Lewis-McChord's neighboring communities.

In the coming year, SSMCP's focus will be on the intersection of three issues between local, municipal governments and the military community.

In December of 2022, SSMCP published three amended Request for Proposals (RFPs) designed to further support JBLM's readiness posture and bring positive impacts to communities in the South Sound. Beginning in 2023, SSMCP anticipates federal grant funding through the Office of Local Defense Community Cooperation (OLDCC) to accomplish the following three initiatives with its work plan. 

First, the Military Installation Resiliency Review (MIRR) will identify the risks, hazards and vulnerabilities of concerns as they relate to the ability of the military to carry out its mission on the installation that might be mitigated through investments and solutions "outside the fence line" in the surrounding communities.

"MIRR is a community-led cooperative, strategic planning process, with the surrounding local jurisdictions, to analyze and implement actions necessary to foster, protect, and enhance both community and military installation sustainability," explained Maria Tobin, SSMCP's program coordinator.

Second, the SSNCP Housing Study 2.0 will examine the saturated housing market in the South Sound Region, and it will identify opportunities for collaboration with local officials to increase quality affordable housing. By Department of Defense (DoD) design, 71 percent of JBLM personnel live off base.

Presently there are more than 1,000 service members' families on an on-base housing list. While this brings more military families into the community, there currently is not enough affordable housing for them. "Creating more affordable housing helps to remove some of the stress of what is already currently available throughout our community," explained Tobin.

And finally third, the Military Spouse Employment Review will take a look at both primary and secondary barriers to spousal employment, and then analyze ways to mitigate these barriers with community partners, the DoD, military installation commands, as well as through local, state and federal levels.

"A recent study showed that nearly 40 percent of military spouses are working professionals and yet overall, they are plagued with some of the highest unemployment rates in the country during a time when our nation is experiencing a national staffing shortage," said Tobin.

She added that military spouse professionals at JBLM most often work off base with the South Sound Community and predominately serve as medical professionals, teachers and childcare providers, to name a few.

"The work done within these RFP's will naturally focus on JBLM and our military personnel, but the South Sound Region's symbiotic relationship with JBLM within our Great American Defense Community ensures that when JBLM thrives, our community sees the far-reaching benefits," concluded Tobin.

For more information about the amended RFPs, visit SSMCP Request for Proposals (RFPs) - City of Lakewood.

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