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Congresswoman Elise Stefanik

Representing the 21st District of New York

Stefanik, McEachin Introduce Bill to Reduce Military Spouse Unemployment, Underemployment

February 27, 2018
Press Release
Military Spouse Employment Act of 2018

WASHINGTON – Today, Representatives Elise Stefanik (R-NY-21) and A. Donald McEachin (D-VA-04) introduced the Military Spouse Employment Act of 2018, bipartisan legislation which aims to increase resources and expand job opportunities for military spouses, who frequently face challenges as a result of their spouses’ service. Between 12 and 25 percent of military spouses are unemployed; an additional 25 percent are underemployed, working underpaying jobs or jobs that underutilize their skillset.

“As the proud home of Fort Drum and the Kesselring Site, our district is home to many military spouses who make enormous sacrifices on behalf of our nation," said Congresswoman Stefanik. "Last December, I was pleased to have two pieces of legislation signed into law that would ease the burdens facing military spouses when they receive a change of station. Today I am pleased to introduce this important, bipartisan bill that seeks to address the high rates of unemployment faced by our military spouses. Military spouses serve too, and it's critical that we work to ensure these brave men and women have the jobs they need and deserve.”

“Our military families make tremendous sacrifices, and we owe them our full support. This bill will lower barriers to well-paying jobs, raise awareness of valuable resources, and create new initiatives—like spouse-focused transition assistance services—to help these families thrive,” said Congressman Donald McEachin. “As the son of an Army veteran, I know first-hand the stresses and challenges that military families face. By creating new job and business opportunities, expanding access to education and workforce training, and improving access to childcare, this bill will help us correct the systematic unemployment and underemployment of military spouses. The result will be better quality of life for servicemembers and their families—and in the long run, a more ready and more capable military.”

This bill has been endorsed by: The American Legion, Blue Star Families, Military Family Advisory Network, Military Officers Association of America (MOAA), and National Military Families Association.

The Military Spouse Employment Act of 2018 aims to:

  • Improve Employment Opportunities
    • Remove barriers to well-paying jobs
    • Encourage small businesses to hire military spouses
  • Expand Access to Education and Training
    • Raise awareness of existing education / training initiatives like MyCAA program
    • Explore options for improving existing initiatives like SECO program
  • Increase Childcare Options
    • Seek to safely increase the number of military childcare providers
    • Provide for assessment of whether local childcare subsidies are adequate 
  • Expand Access to Counseling and Transition Assistance
    • Enable spouses to join transitioning servicemembers in relevant classes
    • Provide for new spouse-focused transition assistance initiative

“MOAA is grateful that Representative Stefanik, who has been a champion for military family issues, has introduced this legislation with Representative McEachin. Military spouse unemployment and underemployment remain one of the greatest challenges in retaining servicemembers and the long-term success of their families, said retired Air Force, Lt. Gen. Dana Atkins, Military Officers Association of America’s President. “In conjunction with the request from our military service chiefs requesting Governors and state legislatures take efforts to assist in "the ability of spouses to obtain jobs and sustain careers", we hope co-sponsorships for this bill come swiftly in recognition of the importance of this issue and action our federal government can take to address the problem.”

Both McEachin and Stefanik, as members of the House Armed Services Committee, will fight to include language from this comprehensive bill into the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) of 2019. Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA) introduced the Senate version of this bill earlier this month.

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