Casey Bill Calls for Evaluation of Military Spouse Employment Programs
WASHINGTON, DC— U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) today introduced legislation to ensure that military spouse employment programs are properly serving military families. The legislation requires a complete review of programs to address concerns raised by servicemembers that these programs are underfunded and may not address their needs.
“High unemployment rates are not only taking a toll on the average American family, but also on the families of America’s servicemembers,” said Senator Casey. “The majority of military households are two-income households. Therefore, it is critical that we address military spouses’ employment concerns, since failing to find solutions could have large consequences on retention and readiness of our military.”
This legislation would direct the Department of Defense to conduct a thorough review of all military spouse employment programs to ascertain their effectiveness. In a time of budget constraints, we must ensure that we are getting a return on our investment, such that spouses are being adequately trained and advised to take advantage of career opportunities.
In August, the Department of Defense announced changes to the Military Spouse Career Advancement Accounts (MyCAA) program that altered the program and prohibited previously eligible spouses from participating. This program provides financial assistance to military spouses who are pursuing degree programs, licenses or credentials leading to employment in portable career fields. Now, only servicemembers’ spouses at junior levels are eligible, excluding those spouses who may need assistance in transferring from established career fields.
This announcement and subsequent implementation of a new MyCAA program was done at a time when those who are now deemed ineligible had already applied and were expecting to attend a spring semester of study. This bill seeks to prevent these types of program shutdowns and delays from happening with little notice by ensuring that the Department of Defense is tracking the performance of its military spouse employment programs so that trends can be followed and program determinations can be made with concrete, measurable information to ensure the effectiveness of the programs and that the military families are well served.
Senator Casey’s bill is cosponsored by Senators Patty Murray (D-WA), Ted Kaufman (D-DE) and Roland Burris (D-IL).