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Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter

Representing the 1st District of New Hampshire

Shea-Porter Introduces Military Spouse Hiring Act Ahead of Military Spouse Appreciation Day

May 11, 2017
Press Release
Bipartisan Bill Draws Praise from New Hampshire Spouse, National Military Organizations, and Top Members of House Armed Services Committee

WASHINGTON, DC – Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter (NH-01) announced the introduction of H.R. 2318, the Military Spouse Hiring Act, ahead of tomorrow’s Military Spouse Appreciation Day. Shea-Porter, a former military spouse and a member of the House Armed Services Committee, introduced the bipartisan bill to address the challenges many military spouses face when seeking employment.

“This Military Spouse Appreciation Day, I’m taking action to address military spouse unemployment, a key concern for families whose sacrifices for our nation too often go unrecognized,” said Shea-Porter. “For too many military spouses, finding a job can be challenging due to frequent moves: up to 23% of military spouses are unemployed. Spouses’ difficulty finding work can negatively impact readiness, retention, and morale. Our service members deserve the peace of mind that comes from knowing their families are happy and financially secure.”

Military spouses can face unique obstacles when seeking employment. Many potential employers are hesitant to hire military spouses because of the perception that they frequently move; the unemployment rate for military spouses within 12 months of a change of station in 2015 was 37%, and the overall unemployment rate for military spouses could be as high as 23%. Shea-Porter’s legislation would help military spouses find employment by creating a tax credit that incentivizes employers to hire by expanding the Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC) to include military spouses. The WOTC is the primary tax credit used to encourage employers to hire veterans and the long-term unemployed.

“I have seen firsthand the challenges military spouses often face finding a job, and the hardship that causes the whole family,” said Caroline Rush, a military spouse from Seabrook, NH. “Members of the Armed Forces have to move frequently, which makes it hard for their spouses to find good jobs. I struggled to find employment while my husband was in flight school at Fort Rucker, Alabama. The Military Spouse Hiring Act would help address this all-too-common challenge, and I appreciate Congresswoman Shea-Porter’s work on behalf of military families.”

The bill has been endorsed by the National Military Family Association, whose Executive Director, Joyce Wessell Reazer, said: “This legislation will be a win for military spouses, who will have a better chance of finding employment, and for employers, who will receive the financial benefit. We applaud the bill’s supporters, who will be contributing to the financial stability of our Nation’s military families.”

Another endorsing organization, the Military Officers Association of America, said: “Military spouse unemployment remains above 20%, according to Department of Defense data collection. This number is more than five times higher than the current veteran unemployment rate, and four times higher than the national average. Military spouse unemployment is staggeringly high, negatively impacts family readiness and threatens the financial health of our service members and their families. We hope this legislation will help us move the needle for military families fighting the longest war in U.S. history.”

High unemployment among military spouses contributes to the financial pressures many military families face. Military families carry more debt than the average American, and many turn to predatory financial products, such as payday loans, to make ends meet.  The National Military Family Association reports that military spouse employment positively impacts service member retention. And according to the RAND Corporation, high military retention rates are critical for preserving morale and avoiding training costs associated with turnover.

Shea-Porter’s legislation was introduced with 13 bipartisan original cosponsors, including Congresswoman Jackie Speier (CA-14), Ranking Member of the House Armed Services Committee’s Military Personnel Subcommittee, and Congressman Walter Jones (NC-03), the second most senior Republican on the House Armed Services Committee.

A former military spouse, Shea-Porter understands the challenges facing our military families and veterans. During her four terms as a member of the House Armed Services Committee, she has worked to provide New Hampshire veterans with increased in-state access to medical care and an expanded GI Bill. She was also proud to pass legislation to hold reckless defense contractors accountable, to prohibit exposing our troops to toxins from burn pits in war zones, and to improve support for those with PTSD.