WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — Unemployment is a major issue for military spouses and lawmakers want to change that with a new bill.
Being in the military often means regularly moving from place to place, which can be tough for families.
Meredith Smith is a military spouse who works for the National Military Family Association. She has firsthand knowledge of the difficulties they face in the workforce.
“As a spouse I have certainly experienced challenges maintaining consistent employment from time to time,” Smith said.
That’s not uncommon. Defense Department surveys reveal over the last decade, the unemployment rate for military spouses has stayed at over 20%.
“When you’re unable to consistently count on a second income that most American families need it’s a challenge,” Smith said.
Senators Tim Kaine and John Boozman have a bill that would give businesses tax credits for hiring military spouses. The legislation would just expand the Work Opportunity Tax Credit Program that already exists.
“It’s such a talented group of people who shouldn’t have any barriers in their way. Plus we want to thank them for the sacrifices,” Kaine said.
“This would be good for the employer, great for the military, great for military retention, great for recruitment. So we feel like it would solve a lot of problems,” Boozman said.
They tried to pass this legislation last Congress but ran out of time. Now the lawmakers are introducing it early in this session and in both the House and Senate simultaneously.
“I think we’ve got a real good chance of getting this done this year,” Kaine said.
While Smith says there’s more work to do, she believes this could have a meaningful impact on families like hers.
“It is an incredibly important part of the solutions to solving military spouse unemployment,” Smith said.