As the wife of an active military member, Hyojeong Shin Fisher says it can be difficult to secure stable employment while moving around the world every 2-3 years. Even after studying Economics in college, she says being a military spouse means being flexible and looking for new career options while adjusting to life among different cultures. According to the U.S. Department of Dense, Fisher is not alone. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, military spouses faced an unemployment rate of 24% and consistently struggle to find work, with that percentage expected to rise in the wake of the pandemic.
Military spouses living on the Baumholder, Germany base, including Fisher, had the opportunity to start on a new career path through a long-standing partnership with the American Red Cross and Baumholder Dental Clinic. The Red Cross Dental Assistant program provides free training and the chance to gain valuable skills and experience with the potential to become full-time employed dental assistants. The Baumholder Clinic specifically focuses on military spouses and Red Cross volunteers to train, utilize and then hire their graduates.
Recent graduates of the program like Fisher and Samantha Lane Valentine, the wife of an active-duty military member, now have full-time work at the dental clinic and the prospect of future stable employment at other dental clinics as they move between military bases.
“Especially for spouses living overseas, it can be very isolating here between the language barriers and especially during this pandemic. I know a lot of spouses, myself included, who have felt at a loss for being stuck at home sometimes with very little opportunity for work out here,” Valentine said.
“This a career that can travel with me. Even if we are in a remote location, there will likely be dental offices/clinics either on the base or off. I feel very confident after spending 6 months in the program in the skills required for the job.”
Captain Luce of the Baumholder Dental Clinic, and Fisher and Valentine’s new boss, explains the mutual benefit of hiring graduates of the program to keep the clinic running smoothly and positioning them as competitive applicants for future employment as dental assistants.
“They now play an essential role as full-time Dental Assistants. Working closely at the doctor’s chairside, they assist in all restorative, endodontic, prosthodontic and surgical procedures. They also help schedule appointments, order and organize dental supplies, and take radiographs – just to name a few of their many responsibilities,” Luce said.
“Having Civilian Dental Assistants is very important in helping our clinic run like a well-oiled machine, since often times our Active Duty Soldier assistants can be tasked out on very short notice with other Army responsibilities. We quite frankly would have a difficult time operating without them.”
The American Red Cross Dental Assistant Program is offered on several bases around the world and works toward providing support and resources to our military families. Learn more about the American Red Cross work with military members here.