By Thea Lawton, MOAA President’s Currently Serving Spouse Advisory Council
As an active duty spouse, with a permanent change of station on the horizon, the prospect of having to look for a new job gives me the hives. So, when I accepted an invitation to the announcement of the Military Spouse Employment Act of 2018, it was with more than just idle curiosity. I wanted to understand precisely what was in this bill and how it could help military spouses, like me, in our future job pursuits.
Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) took the floor at the Modeling, Analysis, and Simulation Center at Old Dominion University Feb. 2, and he began to talk about what the bill hoped to accomplish. I found myself nodding in approval. He explained roundtable discussions with military spouses inspired the provisions of the bill. I took this as a valid sign that the bill looks to address the significant employment barriers that a military spouse faces.
The most inspiring part of the program, for me, came in the form of four military spouses sharing their experiences with entrepreneurship, using the Military Spouse Career Advancement Accounts Program (MyCAA), dealing with finding affordable child care, and transitioning from the military life. Each spouse spoke their truth, and that truth was my own.
In my view, there are several essential factors this bill will address:
- One is the lack of enough approved child care providers and reevaluating the number of available child care slots on military installations. Knowing that you have a safe place to leave your child makes all the difference in getting and keeping employment.
- The provision to ensure spouses are fully aware of the benefits the MyCAA program brings us closer to developing portable careers.
- The bill also extends the eligibility of Military OneSource from six months post-separation to one full year. Extended eligibility means that the service member and spouse will have access to resources in a way that is unprecedented.
I am excited to see this bill introduced this week. Kaine seems to have heard the voices of military spouses. Military spouse employment is not just a family issue it is a mission-readiness issue.