An Army Wife's Life

Once upon a time I was a college student, then I was a teacher, and now I'm a mother. Technically, I'm currently a freelance writer... but really I am an ARMY WIFE. Expect to find... funny (at least to me) anecdotes, thoughts about la vida military, hopes, anxieties, dreams, commentaries on current events.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Unemployment Benefits for Military Spouses

I saw this in Army Times and then another Mom on Maya's Mom posted it: 4 more states offer benefits to spouses forced to quit jobs (see excerpt and map below).

What are your thoughts on the topic? Should spouses who quit to move with a servicemember be entitled to unemployment? What, if any, restrictions should be placed on it?

Is it the least the states can do for the families who are serving? Is it critical to national security because of the need to retain servicemembers and keep family morale going? Is it promoting a culture of dependency and discouraging able bodied workers from finding work once they move?

What are your thoughts as a military spouse? as a citizen? as a taxpayer?

Should the federal government change the law to require states to define a military move as being unemployed "through no fault of your own?" Or should the military keep lobbying each of the remaining states individually?

My personal experience was I left my job and was not granted a leave of absence because I am a military spouse and they did not think I would be back (I actually have this in writing, smart PR move on their part, huh?).

Texas actually has a great program, Texas Workforce, available free to military spouses that provides resources for job hunting and actually pays for certifications, classes, gas, babysitting, and more while you look for a job if you left a job to move to Texas with your spouse on military orders.

I ended up freelancing, but they would have paid for all exams and certifications for me to transfer my teaching certification to Texas--down to the postage required for mailing in the forms.

Personally, I would like to see more funding for programs like this, helping military families to locate jobs when they PCS. However, I do think it is important to have a safety net for military families--especially because a servicemember will be more effective and more likely to stay in the military if his spouse and family are satisfied with their situation.

I do worry about abuses, as I do with any other benefits program for any group of people, but I do think in this case these new laws are on the right track.

I would love to hear your thoughts!

4 more states offer benefits to spouses forced to quit jobs (EXCERPT, click for full article)

According to the Defense Department, 21 states now allow trailing military spouses to receive unemployment benefits. Eight states deny such benefits outright; the rest consider such requests on a case-by-case basis.

The Pentagon is working this issue hard. Since defense officials launched a “USA 4 Military Families” state partnership program three years ago, 13 states have changed their policies to let spouses get unemployment compensation.

“I see it as a part of what DoD is doing today to connect these folks to military families and their communities,” said Joyce Raezer, chief operating officer for the National Military Family Association.

“For years, DoD’s attitude was that they couldn’t do anything about it, it wasn’t their issue,” Raezer said. “But now they are saying that if military spouse careers are important to retention, maybe they need to step up and do what they can to help spouses.”

Map of the states that offer unemployment to military spouses who move on orders:

Map of Unemployment Benefits for Military Spouses

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