The Foreign Service Journal - March 2018

THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL | MARCH 2018 35 FOCUS ON FOREIGN SERVICE FAMILIES FS family members and posts feel the impact of not being able to fill many essential positions. BY DEBRA BLOME Still Waiting Family Member Employment Today W ith all that is going on today in the world of diplomacy and the Foreign Service, it may not seem like the right time to look at how the continued hiring freeze is affecting fam- ily member employ- ment. Family members, after all, were never guaranteed jobs to begin with, as some of the less sympathetic comments on social media have pointed out. But the reality is that there are many excellent reasons for the State Department to employ Foreign Service family mem- bers. As the FSJ pointed out in “Out in the Cold: How the Hiring Freeze Is Affecting Family Member Employment” (July-August 2017), hiring eligible family members (EFMs) is not just good for morale. It makes financial sense, as family members fill key jobs that keep embassies and consulates functioning at very low cost to the State Department. The executive branch civilian hiring freeze (which included EFM jobs) announced in the Presidential Memorandum of Jan. 23, 2017, is still in place for EFM positions (and the State Department), even though it was lifted months ago for most other agencies. Hundreds of waivers have been granted, but the blanket freeze remains in place as of this writing. Debra Blome is an EFM currently posted abroad with her FSO husband. To cope with the hiring freeze, she is expanding the number of hours she volunteers, work- ing on a collection of short stories, writing freelance articles and hitting the gym more regularly.