The National Military Spouse Network (NMSN), the premiere organization supporting the professional and personal growth of the nation’s military spouses, today released its third annual National Military Spouse Network White Paper presented by USAA. The latest report, “Roadmap to Employment Stability for Military Spouses,” includes priority recommendations for addressing financial insecurity in the country’s military spouse community, including retired servicemembers, as a roadmap to improving and enhancing work and entrepreneurial opportunities. Among the recommendations are improving data collection and tracking, legislative priorities such as fixing the Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC) and establishing a portal that houses all necessary information to help military spouses achieve gainful employment both in the United States and overseas.
More specifically, the recommendations to improve military spouse employment include:
- Data collection and tracking:
- The Department of Defense (DOD) should leverage its existing Survey of Active Duty Spouses, conducted every two years, to collect more granular details about military spouse employment and partner with an organization like the Society for Human Resources Management to glean information that will enhance existing guidance, training, services, and other programming.
- Coordinate with the Department of State (DOS) to issue clarifying and location-specific guidance to military spouse employment overseas.
- Legislative priorities to reduce military spouse unemployment and underemployment:
- Congress to consider passing a law similar to the Veterans Entrepreneurship and Small Business Development Act of 1999* to include military spouses. It also should expand the category of veteran-owned small business to include those owned and operated by military spouses.
- Congress should extend the Work Opportunity Tax Credit and expand the targeted groups to include military spouses.
- Accessible information:
- DOD should establish a portal for all data related to military spouse employment or restrictions that would be available to military families that includes clear instructions for registering and lawfully operating a business while living on base.
- DOD could consider standardizing guidelines and requirements for businesses owned by military spouses that operate on base rather than relying on policies developed at the individual installation commander’s discretion.
*Developed to help federal agencies meet the government-wide goal of awarding at least 3% of the total value of all prime contract and subcontract awards to small businesses owned and controlled by service-disabled veterans
Other White Paper recommendations include: both the DOD and DOS designating point-of-contact people at each installation for military spouses, and to reduce unemployment and underemployment among military spouses; and Congress could consider allowing military veterans to transfer their federal hiring preference points to their spouses or caregivers.
“We continue to aim high as there is no silver bullet solution, but a collection of solutions that will require a whole-of-society response,” said Sue Hoppin, founder and president of NMSN. “We hope this approach will guide lawmakers in the 117th Congress as they continue to work together to ensure our national security by focusing on the financial health of our military families.”
“USAA is proud to continue the 10-year relationship we’ve built with the National Military Spouse Network and are excited to expand upon the mutually beneficial bipartisan goals of supporting the nation’s military families,” said Michael Kelly, assistant vice president of Military Affairs at USAA. “We look forward to continuing our collaboration with NMSN and working toward solutions that ensure the financial health of military spouses and the entire military community.”
For the third consecutive year, the National Military Spouse Network White Paper was written in collaboration with David Chrisinger, Director of the Writing Program at the University of Chicago’s Harris School of Public Policy and author of “Public Policy Writing That Matters.” These recommendations represent a snapshot of today’s military spouse environment and will be the basis for 2021 programming, including invitation-only roundtable discussions and other events and initiatives designed to enhance military spouse employment and career opportunities for the nation’s one million+ military spouses.