THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL
Fred Odisho joined the Foreign Service as a political-
coned officer in January 2014, a few months after his
tandem spouse joined. After being separated for their
first four years in the Foreign Service, he is looking
forward to reuniting with her in the summer of 2017 for their second
assignment. Prior to joining the Foreign Service, he spent 18 years
with the U.S. Army and still serves today as a reservist.
Whitney Dubinsky joined the Foreign Service in 2010
through USAID’s Development Leadership Initiative.
After two years of being unable to find meaningful em-
ployment at post, her spouse joined the Foreign Service
in 2014. They travel the world with their 3-year-old son, without
whom neither can live.
epresentative of the larger society,
Foreign Service families come in all
forms, each with its own unique chal-
lenges. The dynamic of the modern
family has changed dramatically over
the past 30 years. The percentage of
family members working outside
the home has steadily increased.
More and more possess professional
degrees and experience in a variety of fields. Not surprisingly,
they possess traits similar to those of their Foreign Service
ON CAREER DIPLOMACY TODAY
Two tandems discuss some of the unique challenges they face.
BY FRED OD I SHO AND WH I TNEY DUB I NSKY
spouses. In the face of these changes, have Foreign Service poli-
cies supporting the modern family kept pace?
For tandem couples—the term for families in which both
spouses are members of the Foreign Service—the answer to this
question is a resounding
. Little has changed since
The NewYork Times published an article in 1986 titled “State Depart- ment; Till Reassignment Do Us Part?” describing the challen
facing tandem couples of that era. Being able to be assigned
together was and still is the greatest challenge plaguing the
members of any tandem couple. The threat of having to split up
their family and children remains ever-present.
While the concerns of tandem couples can also include
compensation and benefits, this article focuses on the assign-
ments process because it directly affects not just the couple’s
respective careers, but also the stability and integrity of their
A Relentless Game of Chance
During every bidding cycle, tandem couples place their fate
in a complex game of chance that involves the availability of
positions overlaid on the varied needs of several departments
and agencies, hundreds of posts, and dozens of regional and
functional bureaus. If a tandem couple have spent years hedg-
ing their bets and get lucky, they may end up with both mem-
bers assigned to the same post at around the same time. But