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Military Spouse Appreciation Day: 3 Ways to Show Your Support

Military Spouse Appreciation Day: 3 Ways to Show Your Support
Cynthia Giesecke, a member of MOAA’s Spouse Advisory Council, meets with a staffer in the office of Rep. Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.) during MOAA’s Storming the Hill event April 10. (MOAA photo)

May 10 is Military Spouse Appreciation Day, a special day set aside to honor military spouses and recognize the sacrifices they make to support their servicemembers.

Most military spouses move every two to three years, picking up their lives and starting over in a new location, trying to find a new job and new schools for their kids, and fitting in with a new community. They keep the home fires burning through deployments, trainings, and TDYs.

You can do more than just thank a military spouse for their support of our servicemembers. Take action and write your member of Congress to address three issues that impact military spouses.

Employment

According to DoD, the military spouse unemployment rate is 24%. This is over six times the national average. The military spouse unemployment rate is so high due to a number of factors –  the frequency of moves, difficulties getting relicensed in a new state, and availability of child care, among others.

Many small- and medium-size businesses take advantage of the Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC), a federal incentive for hiring target groups that face significant employment barriers such as veterans, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) recipients, and former felons. It’s time to act on behalf of another population that faces continual barriers to employment and ask Congress to expand the WOTC to include military spouses as a target group.

[TAKE ACTION: Ask Your Lawmakers to Expand the WOTC to Benefit Military Spouses]

Military Housing

Media reports and testimony from military families paint a picture of substandard housing conditions, lack of oversight of public private partners, and poor customer service and maintenance. Military families detailed jumping through a multitude of hoops to address health and safety hazards in their homes without proper tenant rights and described the negative impact these experiences had on their family physically, financially, and emotionally.

MOAA supports a number of bills that ensure proper oversight of privatized housing, ensures frequent testing is conducted, addresses health care concerns, and provides more transparency. All military families deserve safe housing. You can join other concerned servicemembers in delivering this message, loud and clear.

[TAKE ACTION: Ask Your Lawmakers to Back These Bills to Improve Military Housing]

Widows Tax

Under current law, survivors of deceased military members must forfeit part or all of their purchased Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP) annuity when they are awarded the VA’s Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC). The loss of any portion of the SBP annuity is known as the “widows tax.” For approximately 66,000 military survivors, the widows tax makes SBP the only insurance product in the country that you pay in to but are legally prohibited from collecting.

S. 622, The Military Widows Tax Elimination Act, recently crossed the 60-cosponsor mark in the Senate, a key hurdle to bringing the legislation to a floor vote. The House companion bill, H.R. 553, has over 260 cosponsors, but still needs more support to be considered for a vote. Let your member of Congress know that supporting military survivors is important to you.

[TAKE ACTION: Ask Your Lawmakers to End the Widows Tax]

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About the Author

Eryn Wagnon

Eryn Wagnon came to MOAA in May 2018 as a military spouse fellow sponsored by the Hiring Our Heroes Corporate Fellowship Program. She joined the MOAA staff permanently in July 2018 as director, military family policy and spouse programs.