Congressman Kim (D-NJ) and Congresswoman Stefanik (R-NY) Introduce Bill to Lower Military Spouse Unemployment

June 11, 2019
Press Release

Congressman Kim (D-NJ) and Congresswoman Stefanik (R-NY) Introduce Bill to Lower Military Spouse Unemployment

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Congressman Andy Kim (NJ-03) and Congresswoman Elise Stefanik (NY-21) introduced H.R. 3191, which will lower military spouse unemployment by making a key job training program accessible to all military spouses.

The Spouse Employment Reciprocity and Vocational Instruction for Career Enhancement (SERVICE) Act will end restrictions on the Department of Defense’s My Career Advancement Account (MyCAA) program which make spouses ineligible when a servicemember gets promoted out of approved paygrades.

“Our servicemembers already sacrifice so much for our country, they shouldn’t have to sacrifice their economic wellbeing because of a broken system that makes it too difficult for spouses to find work,” said Congressman Kim. “The peace of mind of a good paying job for our military families is the least we can do to support them. I’m proud to work with Congresswoman Stefanik on this bipartisan bill and encourage my colleagues to join us in support.”

“Under current law, a servicemember’s promotion deems military spouses ineligible for benefits that would improve their employment prospects,” said Congresswoman Stefanik. “Military spouses already face an unemployment rate six times higher than the national rate. I’m proud to introduce this bill with Congressman Kim to get rid of a system technicality that further exacerbates this problem, and will continue my record of supporting our military spouses and doing all I can to thank them for their incredible sacrifice.”

By ending the eligibility limits, the SERVICE Act will give additional military spouses funding for up to $4,000 in tuition for certifications, licenses and associate degrees. These programs will help spouses find work often impaired when they move states and lose license eligibility due to reciprocity issues.

According to a recent report from the Department of Defense, active duty spouses face a 24 percent unemployment rate. That is more than six times the current national unemployment rate.

“NMFA is pleased to endorse the SERVICE Act,” said Joyce Wessel Raezer, Executive Director of the National Military Family Association. “Ensuring eligible, currently enrolled military spouses are able to maintain their scholarship benefits when the service member is promoted outside of eligibility requirements provides continuity directly tied to furthering the spouse’s education and future earning potential. Since military spouses face significantly high unemployment and underemployment rates, we are encouraged by efforts to chip away at these stagnant rates and believe that doing so will increase the financial resilience of military families.”

In addition to expanding eligibility for military spouses into the MyCAA program, the SERVICE Act will also require the Department of Defense to produce a study on ways in which the program can be improved and better serve military families.