Lawmakers Aim to Retain More Military Spouses in Federal Employment

Lawmakers Aim to Retain More Military Spouses in Federal Employment
Military spouses attend a job fair at Camp Lejeune, N.C. (Photo by Lance Cpl. Jackeline M. Perez Rivera/Marine Corps)

On the heels of an executive order aimed at improving economic opportunity for military and veteran spouses, caregivers, and survivors, House lawmakers have set their sights on easing the burden for active duty military spouses employed by federal agencies.


Reps. Jasmine Crockett (D-Texas) and Don Bacon (R-Neb.) recently introduced the Resilient Employment and Authorization Determination to Increase the National Employment of Serving Spouses (READINESS) Act. If enacted, the bill (H.R. 6462) would offer increased job flexibility to spouses of both active duty military members and Foreign Service officers.


[TAKE ACTION: Ask Your House Member to Support the READINESS Act]


Specifically, the bill would allow a “trailing spouse” to seek an individual determination from their employing agency about whether they can work remotely on a temporary basis, be reassigned to an area within commuting distance, or transferred to a comparable job at another agency. The legislation also would allow spouses transferring to an area without a viable federal employment option to go into a non-pay status, allowing the spouse to retain nonfinancial benefits (retain a security clearance, for example) while the employer backfills the position.


The federal government employs 5,505 active duty spouses, according to the latest data from the Office of Personnel Management (OPM). Unfortunately, many of these spouses are forced to choose between maintaining a career or moving with their servicemember. The lack of formalized policies across federal agencies impacts the government’s ability to capitalize on the talent military spouses have to offer.




Military spouse unemployment is a staggering 21%, and despite significant efforts and funding, that number has remained largely unchanged for over a decade. It’s time to take a step back, find better ways to track unemployment rates among military spouses, and take a hard look at what’s working and what isn’t.


Taking a closer look at a smaller subset of spouses – those employed by the federal government – is an opportunity to improve tracking and identify policies that will help support military spouse employment.


This no-cost, bipartisan bill is the right way forward.


Visit MOAA’s Legislative Action Center and urge your representative to support the READINESS Act now.


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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.