Military Spouse Magazine

OCT 2018

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Page 17 of 35

DC CHANGE MAKER Over the past year, there has been growing interest in military spouse employment because of advocates, like Democratic Sen. Tim Kaine of Vir- ginia, who are working to make change happen on Capitol Hill. The issue hits home for Kaine. His son is a captain in the Marine Corps and his son's wife just started law practice in the D.C. area. "It's very clear that his wife's pro- fessional path is going to be a critical decision as to whether he decides to stay in the Marines and where he decides to stay," says Kaine. "Hearing them illuminates two things for me. First, you want to provide opportunities for military spouses because they sacrifice a lot and it's horrible to have them sacri- fice and find they are shut out of the job market. Second, it also becomes a readiness issue about getting soldiers to re-enlist if they believe their spouses can be happy in their professional lives." Kaine, co-chair of the Senate Military Fam- ily Caucus and a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, introduced new legislation to help reduce military spouse unemployment. Provi- sions from the Military Spouse Employment Act of 2018 and Jobs and Childcare for Military Families Act of 2018 were included in the Fiscal Year 2019 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), signed by President Donald Trump on Aug. 13. The provisions Kaine advocated for were a result of a roundtable discussion held last year with military families where Kaine heard firsthand about the employment barriers many of them faced. THE SPARK In October 2017, Kaine joined military spouses and business leaders in Arlington, Va., for a summit on improving employment opportunities. The event was co-hosted by Blue Star Families, the Northern Virginia Technology Council (NVTC), and Consumer Technology Association (CTA). "Military spouses are very humble, modest people and we think, 'I don't have a job, so this is my problem,' but we don't realize that the system that is set up is very difficult," explains Kathy Roth-Douquet, CEO of Blue Star Families, regarding military spouse employment barri- ers. "We need to tell the story to larger society so they understand the problem exists and put our voices together to say this is a system that needs to change." Blue Star Families is doing its part to help military spouses se- cure employment. The organization recently launched its Spouseforce platform to help match military spouses to jobs and resources that fit their skills and lifestyle needs (e.g., flexible hours; telecommuting). MODIFIES FEDERAL HIRING AUTHORITY Modifies federal hiring authority so that federal agencies can expedite the hiring of a candidate who is a military spouse. The most desirable jobs near military installations are often federal positions. EXPANDS SMALL BUSINESS OPPORTUNITIES FOR MILITARY SPOUSES ON MILITARY INSTALLATIONS Recognizing that spouses have faced obstacles to starting small businesses on base, this legislation encourages the Department of Defense (DoD) to submit a plan on how to best facilitate military spouse entrepreneurship on military installations. INSTRUCTS THE DOD TO EVALUATE IMPACT OF FREQUENT MOVES ON FAMILIES The legislation instructs the DoD to evaluate the impact that frequent moves have on military families and report to Congress on its findings. INSTRUCTS THE DOD TO EXPAND EDUCATIONAL OPPORTUNITIES FOR MILITARY SPOUSES Instructs the DoD to evaluate how to expand and advertise existing career training programs to military spouses. This includes ensuring existing installation career counselors have the most helpful information for spouses and that spouses are aware of the potentially under-utilized Military Spouse Career Advancement Account (MyCAA), which provides scholarships for spouses to pursue associate degrees, certificates, and professional licenses. HERE IS A LIST OF MILITARY SPOUSE PROVISIONS FROM KAINE'S TWO BILLS THAT MADE IT IN THE FINAL NDAA SINCE THE SUMMIT TOOK PLACE, NVTC HAS LAID OUT NEW GUIDANCE FOR ITS MEMBER COMPANIES, WHICH INCLUDES: Lakesha Cole works to connect veterans and military spouses to meaningful employment opportunities through her work with North Carolina For Military Employment and the Hiring Our Heroes Military Spouse Professional Network. Her voice, along with the advocacy and stories of other military spouses, prompted Kaine to introduce legislation aimed to help military spouses with employment issues. • Adding military spouses as a distinct group in marketing materials (not just highlighting veterans) • Guidance for member companies to create positions that take into account military spouse challenges such as providing on- site childcare, job portability, etc. Photos of military spouse with Sen. Kaine were provided by Sen. Kaine's office 18 MILITARYSPOUSE.COM / OCTOBER 2018

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