A Spouse’s Guide to Advocating

A Spouse’s Guide to Advocating
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This article originally appeared in the July 2023 issue of Military Officer and was updated in May 2024. Learn more about the magazine here; learn more about joining MOAA here.


At any given time, there are approximately 1 million military spouses — just 0.3% of the population — serving alongside America’s men and women in uniform.


MOAA, along with other organizations, advocates for improvements to policies and programs to enhance quality of life for military families. These combined efforts have led to improved parental leave policies, the development of robust spouse employment and education programs, the introduction of the Basic Needs Allowance to address food insecurity among military families, and much more. But we still have a long way to go.


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As the spouse of a servicemember, retiree, or veteran, you play an important role in advocating for this great community. It might seem easier to join the chorus of complaints, but advocacy can be simple and is far more rewarding — and it works.


Start taking action with these three simple steps:


1. Share your story. Talk about your experience as a military spouse — the good, the bad, and the ugly. The majority of the nation does not understand the unique challenges military families face, but they want to learn more.


Share your story far and wide. You never know who might want to champion your issue and help you spark change.


[RELATED: Meaningful Change to Spouse Employment Trends Will Require Real Commitment]


2. Stay solution-focused. Identifying a problem or an issue is only the first step. It’s tempting to belabor the challenges, but don’t get bogged down in the negative.


First, define the issue as succinctly as possible. Next, share the most compelling example to illustrate why the issue must be resolved. Finally, offer a recommended solution. As the adage goes, you get more flies with honey. The same holds true for advocacy; you get more support with solutions (not complaints).


[TAKE ACTION: Urge Your Legislators to Support the Military Spouse Hiring Act]


3. Connect with lawmakers. In the past, spouses were expected to toe the line and keep grievances to themselves. Luckily, times have changed. Lawmakers want to hear from constituents.


There are easy ways to reach out to your representative and senators (if you live in one state and vote in another, reach out to all of them). To find your lawmakers, share advocacy messages, and more, use MOAA’s Legislative Action Center.


Bottom line: You have a powerful voice. Use it.


If you want to get more engaged with MOAA’s military family advocacy efforts, send a message to moaaspouse@moaa.org. Together, we are stronger.


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About the Author

Jen Goodale
Jen Goodale

Goodale is MOAA's Director of Government Relations for Military Family and Survivor Policy.