Supporting the Military Community, One Job at a Time
How Mary Elaine Baker is creating career opportunities for military spouses.
Life as a military spouse poses unique challenges that are often difficult to overcome. Many spouses not only deal with frequent or long deployments, but must also raise their children alone during those times, all while moving every two or three years and trying to find a job that suits their hectic lifestyle. Starting their careers over — or putting their career on hold for years at a time — is a common issue that leads to underemployment and large gaps in resumes. A recent Department of Defense survey found that a quarter of military spouses are unemployed. According to the 2018 Blue Star Family Military Lifestyle Survey, 72 percent of families cannot obtain reliable childcare, and 47 percent want large corporations to design flexible, military-spouse friendly work options.
“I was working over full-time hours as a teacher while my husband deployed frequently or was off training,” says Mary Elaine, president and co-founder of Patriot Advantage. “I also have a very creative side, and have been involved in the fashion, modeling and wedding industry for nearly ten years. I excelled at teaching, and also loved all of the other industries I was working in. However after a few years of trying to juggle it all, I felt a high amount of stress and burn out. Not to mention the emotional burden of staying strong and present for our young children while their father was at war. We knew it was time to pivot.”
Her life soon changed when she was introduced to the world of virtual assisting and experienced a huge shift in dynamics at home. A weight had finally been lifted. “All of a sudden a lightbulb came on,” says Brett Baker, vice president and co-founder of Patriot Advantage. “When Mary Elaine changed careers and we felt the profound impact it made, we knew we had to share this opportunity with other military families.”
Recognizing the untapped potential of military spouses — who often have difficulty maintaining traditional employment — they envisioned Patriot Advantage not just as a business opportunity, but also as a vehicle for creating positive social impact by matching an underutilized talent pool with entrepreneurs who need to focus their time on the core of their business. Mary Elaine and Brett believe that attracting people who share the company’s values of integrity, responsibility, compassion and respect helps foster an organizational culture with a sense of community — benefiting assistants and clients alike.
Currently, Patriot Advantage proudly has over 80 percent military spouses and veterans on their team, scattered throughout the United States. “What we have created is a culture and community that is positively impacting the families that have sacrificed so much for our country,” says Mary Elaine. “Our team can contribute financially to their family, develop new skills, establish friendships with others in their shoes, and they finally have a consistent job they can take with them wherever military life may lead. That freedom is everything and we are honored to serve them.”
The Patriot Advantage is military spouse and veteran owned and operated. The company serves clients by providing them personal assistants. Patriot Advantage serves its assistants and community by offering military spouses and veterans job opportunities in a collaborative environment that promotes work-life balance. thepatriotadvantage.com