8 Ways the Military Spouse Employment Act Can Benefit You

military spouse employment act

New legislation has recently been passed to help improve employment and childcare options for military spouses and families.  The legislation is called the Military Spouse Employment Act.

If you’re a military spouse, your spouse’s career moves have probably affected your career. Good jobs can be hard to find and keep for military spouses who move frequently. Childcare needs further complicate the job search. Spouse employment issues can even cause service members to reconsider their military career path.

What is the Military Spouse Employment Act?

The Military Spouse Employment Act of 2018 was included in the Fiscal Year 2019 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), along with the Jobs and Childcare for Military Families Act of 2018.

President Donald Trump signed the NDAA into law on August 13, 2018.

Senator Tim Kaine from Virginia introduced both bills.  Senator Kaine is co-chair of the Senate Military Family Caucus, a member of the Senate Armed Forces Committee, and the father of a Marine.

Over the past year, Senator Kaine has worked with military spouse and family groups to understand military spouse employment issues. As a result, Kaine wrote and introduced these two bills, which can greatly benefit military families.

How Can The Military Spouse Employment Act Help You?

Eight provisions from Kaine’s two bills that comprise the Military Spouse Employment Act made it into the final NDAA for 2019. Here is what the legislation does, and how it can help you and your family:

  • Modifies Federal Hiring Authority

This speeds up the federal hiring process for job candidates who are military spouses. This is important because the most desirable jobs near military installations are often federal positions.

  • Expands Small Business Opportunities for Military Spouses on Military Installations

This will help remove obstacles for military spouses who want to start small businesses on base.

  • Instructs the DoD to Evaluate the Impact of Frequent Moves on Military Families

This instructs the Department of Defense to evaluate the impact that frequent moves have on military families, and to report these findings to Congress.

  • Instructs the DoD to Expand Educational Opportunities for Military Spouses

This aims to maximize the educational benefits currently available to military spouses, including career training programs, career counseling, and the underused MyCAA (this link will take you to CollegeRecon, our sister site).  MyCAA, or the Military Spouse Career Advancement Account, provides scholarships for spouses to pursue associate degrees, certificates, and professional licenses.

RELATED: Unusual Careers You Can Pursue Through MyCAA (@CollegeRecon)

  • Increases Access to Affordable Childcare for Military Families

Because a lack of access to affordable childcare increases spouse unemployment, this aims to increase childcare access by increasing the number of DoD-cleared childcare providers, and by insuring an accurate number of childcare subsidies for each duty station.

  • Encourages the DoD to Establish Dependent Care Savings Accounts

This strongly encourages the DoD to make flexible spending accounts available to military families. These accounts allow families to save pre-tax money from their paychecks to pay for out-of-pocket childcare expenses. This addresses some of the unique aspects of military life.  Military families’ frequent moves and occasional deployments may increase the need for military families to pay out-of-pocket for childcare.

Currently, uniformed service members and their families are the only group in the federal employment system who don’t have access to these accounts.

  • Provides Military Spouses with Resources to Ease their Families’ Transition to Civilian Life

This aims to help military families transition successfully to civilian life by extending spouses’ access to Military One Source resources for a full year, rather than six months. Military One Source provides benefits such as non-medical mental health counseling, career help, and life coaching for veterans and military families after the transition to civilian life.

  • Increases Participation in Military Family Public-Private Partnerships

This aims to break down bureaucratic barriers to public-private partnerships between businesses and community organizations surrounding military installations. Many of these organizations would like to support military families, but the current process for making formal agreements needs to be simplified. This legislation directs the DoD to clarify the process for installation commanders.

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