Here’s How the NDAA Addresses Military Spouse Unemployment

Here’s How the NDAA Addresses Military Spouse Unemployment
A human resources specialist with the Civilian Personnel Advisory Center speaks with an Army spouse during an Open Air Hiring Fair on May 6, 2021, at Fort Campbell, Ky. (Photo by Sirena Clark/Army)

Military spouse unemployment remains high on the list of challenges faced by military families made worse by the COVID-19 pandemic – the widely reported spouse unemployment rate of 24% in recent years reportedly may have risen to 35% as many spouses stopped working in the face of economic downturns, or simply to be home as child care centers closed or schools moved to virtual learning.


The FY 2022 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), signed into law last month, includes several passages designed to address this longstanding problem. Here’s a look at what’s on tap:


Fellowship Program: The law allows DoD to set up a three-year pilot program creating spouse employment opportunities via a “paid fellowship with employers across a variety of industries.” The assistance would be capped at $5 million, and the program would stand up within a year of the bill becoming law.


[RELATED: MOAA Welcomes New Members to Advisory Councils]


Remote Installation Policies: The law requires DoD to create a department-wide policy that would “assess and manage challenges associated with remote military installations” and the men and women who serve there. This would include addressing employment opportunities in these areas for military spouses.


Spouse Employment Study: DoD must perform an in-depth study into the spouse unemployment issue, determining not only the unemployment and underemployment rate for spouses, but also asking spouses if their career has been affected by their spouse’s service and whether they’ve suffered “discrimination by civilian employers” because of their military family status. The study also will consider other “barriers of entry,” to include state licensure requirements and child care issues.


MOAA Can Help

Military spouses are eligible to attend webinars and online career fairs offered by MOAA, and spouses of Premium and Life members can make use of a suite of career programs to include one-on-one sessions with our transition and career experts. Learn more about these offerings at


Support Military Spouses

Donate to The MOAA Foundation and support MOAA’s efforts to help military spouses in their career journeys. 


About the Author

Kevin Lilley
Kevin Lilley

Lilley serves as MOAA's digital content manager. His duties include producing, editing, and managing content for a variety of platforms, with a concentration on The MOAA Newsletter and Follow him on Twitter: @KRLilley