Military Spouse Magazine

OCT 2018

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A BIPARTISAN BILL When Kaine first joined the Senate in 2013, he worked to continue to bring down the veteran unemployment rate, which is now less than the national average.He hopes this new initiative will help do the same for military spouse unemployment. "I will just credit the military spouses themselves for putting this issue on my radar screen," says Kaine. "This bill is very bipartisan and the time between identifying the problem, identifying solutions, and getting it on the president's desk has been fast." It is a game changer having an advocate in Washington who under- stands the challenges milspouses face and is in a position to enact change. "I think it is such an important and worthy step in the right direction," says Robinson, who was present during the introduction of the bill in Virginia last February. "Having a champion in military spouse employment like Sen. Kaine is an incredible thing and helps raise the conversation to the national level." H INCREASES ACCESS TO AFFORDABLE CHILD CARE FOR MILITARY FAMILIES This bill instructs the DoD to implement a program designed to increase the number of cleared childcare providers and requires the DoD to assess whether each duty station is allotted the right number of childcare subsidies for the number of families requesting them. ENCOURAGES DOD TO ESTABLISH DEPENDENT CARE SAVINGS ACCOUNTS This legislation strongly encourages DoD to make flexible spending accounts available to military families so they can opt in to reserve pre- tax dollars from their paychecks to pay for out-of-pocket child care expenses. Uniformed service members and their families are the only group in the federal employment system who do not have this benefit. PROVIDES MILITARY SPOUSES WITH RESOURCES TO EASE THEIR FAMILIES' TRANSITION TO CIVILIAN LIFE This bill allows military spouses to access Military One Source (MOS) resources for a full year, instead of just six months. MOS provides non-medical mental health counseling, career help and life coaching for veterans and military families after transitioning to civilian life. INCREASES PARTICIPATION IN MILITARY FAMILY PUBLIC-PRIVATE PARTNERSHIPS Recognizing that there are many businesses and community organizations surrounding military installations that would like to support military families, this legislation directs the DoD to make the process to enter into formal agreements with these organizations and companies clearer for installation commanders. Currently, there are numerous bureaucratic barriers to entering into public-private partnerships. FOR COLE, OWNER OF SHE SWANK MARKETPLACE, HELPING MILITARY SPOUSES PURSUE THEIR ENTREPRENEURIAL DREAMS IS PARTICULARLY MEANINGFUL. "I had started my online business prior to PCSing to Okinawa and I thought this would be my one shot of being able to run my business full time. I wasn't fully aware of all the regulations prior to moving there and I didn't realize there was going to be so much red tape in operating my business," recalls Cole, who was Kaine's guest to the State of the Union Address early this year. "I learned the only way I could open my business was to secure a contract with the Exchange. That process took about six months." OCTOBER 2018 / MILITARYSPOUSE.COM 19

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