**UPDATE! The 2017 National Defense Authorization Act has placed an indefinite period of time to take advantage of the preference program. Key notes: 1) Only use the spouse hiring preference once per move 2) Have to have been married before your Service member's reporting date and 3) Preference doesn't trump other "alternative recruitment sources"-could be some candidates who have higher preference (includes disabled veterans, handicapped individuals and more).**
The Department of Defense Military Spouse Preference Program (Program S) - a subprogram of the Priority Placement Program (PPP) - provides statutory employment preference to military spouses. By giving military spouses priority in the employment selection process, Program S works to reduce the impact of frequent relocations on spouse's careers.
Spouses of active duty Soldiers and full-time National Guard or Reserves who meet the eligibility requirements contained in the DoD Priority Placement Program Manual, Chapter 14, are eligible to participate in the Military Spouse Preference Program. Spouses may register 30 days prior to the Soldier's PCS reporting date.
Military Spouse Preference Program (Program S)
The Military Spouse Preference Program applies to spouses of active duty Soldiers who desire priority consideration for competitive service positions.
Program S Placement
Long-Term Program S Positions: Military spouse preference applies to temporary positions expected to last one year or longer. Once a spouse successfully accepts a long-term temporary position expected to last one year or longer, he or she loses employment preference status. Spouses who decline a long term or permanent offer after registering for consideration also lose employment preference status. However, if the accepted long-term employment is terminated in less than a year for reasons other than cause, the spouse regains preference eligibility.
Short-Term Program S Positions: Accepting or declining a temporary position expected to last less than one year does not affect a spouse's preference status. Spouses employed under temporary positions of less than a year continue to receive spouse preference when referred for permanent employment or temporary employment of one year or longer. In accordance with DoD PPP Manual, Chapter 14B 3, preference for "continuing or permanent" positions continues while the Spouse is employed in either temporary or term positions.
Continuing Eligibility: A spouse remains eligible for preference throughout the Soldier's tour until the spouse accepts or declines a job offer that is considered valid under DoD policy. However, Program S registration will be terminated 12 months after initial registration or the last extension/file maintenance action. Extension and file maintenance submissions that are processed extend Program S registration for one year. If automatically terminated, the spouse may re-register if otherwise eligible.
Program S Registration Requirements
Spouse must be married prior to the reporting date of the Soldier's new assignment.
The Soldier must be
- Assigned by a PCS move from overseas to the U.S. or to a different commuting area within the United States, including the U.S. territories or possessions;
- Relocating to a new permanent duty station after completing basic and advanced individual training;
- Permanently assigned to the same duty station where the Soldier received initial entry training;
- Assigned by PCS to a service school, regardless of the duration of training; or
- A former military member who re-enlists and is placed directly in a permanent assignment;
- Reassigned on an unaccompanied tour by PCS with orders specifying the sequential assignment. The spouse may register for activities in the commuting area of the sequential assignment once the spouse has actually a residence and relocated. Alternatively, spouses may register for Program S before joining the Soldier, but not earlier than 30 days prior to the Soldier's reporting date - only if the spouse is relocating to join the Soldier on or before the Soldier's reporting date.
Local human resource (personnel) offices serve as the registration points for Program S. Information regarding spouse preference is also available at installation ACS Centers.
Spouses in the United States may apply for the Military Spouse Preference Program 30 days prior to the Soldier's reporting date to the new duty station. However, spouses traveling to overseas areas cannot receive preference until they actually arrive.
Spouses are assigned a priority level "3." Spouses may register for any grade for which qualified and available, however at a grade no higher than that previously held on a permanent basis. If the spouse's only service was overseas under a time-limited appointment, he or she may register for the highest grade held, if they have an appointment eligibility under Executive Order 12721. However, the spouse may choose to register using Executive Order 1373 eligibility, if applicable.
For more information about spouse employment assistance, please see the fact sheets:
Army Career and Alumni Program (ACAP)
Employment Readiness Program (ERP)
Spouse Education and Career Opportunities (SECO)
For information on government civil service jobs, visit:
For National Archives Military Records Request information: