Financial Security

According to the Department of Defense, active-duty military members and their families relocate, on average, once every two to three years—typically across state lines or overseas. These frequent transitions can contribute to financial insecurity by making it difficult for military spouses to find and maintain valuable employment.

Additionally, the limited availability and high costs of child care, out-of-pocket relocation and housing expenses, and unexpected financial emergencies, can exacerbate financial circumstances of modern military and Veteran families.

Blue Star Families supports legislation that would ensure service members, Veterans, and their families are financially secure.

Service Member Compensation

Service member compensation must be competitive with that of the civilian sector to recruit and retain talented individuals in the armed forces.

Policy Recommendation

Support annual increases to service member compensation tied to the Employment Cost Index

Military Spouse Employment

Unemployment and underemployment issues for military spouses continue to persist despite legislative and community efforts. We have been tracking this issue since the inception of the annual Military Family Lifestyle Survey in 2009, and we have elevated military spouse employment to the forefront of Department of Defense and legislative conversations.

Policy Recommendations

  • Incentivize private sector employers to initiate flexible work programs for military spouses by amending the Internal Revenue Code, making employers of military spouses eligible for the Work Opportunity Tax Credit (therefore allowing them to claim a tax credit equal to a portion of the wages paid to said spouses)
  • Allow military spouses who must leave their jobs due to a PCS to defer their student loan payments for a fixed period
  • Encourage the Bureau of Labor Statistics to start tracking the military spouse unemployment rate

Military Housing

Housing and neighborhood quality have received increasing attention in recent years and are indelibly tied to a family’s economic condition. Department of Defense policy is written to ensure military families have access to quality, affordable housing, which reflects current community living standards. Starting in 2015, however, Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH) was incrementally reduced to 95% of local area rent, making it a matter of policy for military families to pay out-of-pocket for quality housing, though they rarely have full control over where they are stationed or when they move.

These BAH cuts impact base housing sustainment funding, which ensures that the DOD continues to provide military families with the quality housing its policies require.

Policy Recommendation

Restore BAH to 100% of local area rent

Relocation and Out-of-Pocket Expenses

Every year, a full third of our All-Volunteer Force packs up and reports to new duty stations—some across the country, others across the globe. When choosing housing, families prioritize proximity to base, family safety, a desirable school district, pet acceptance, and whether BAH will cover the costs. Financial stress increases with greater out-of-pocket housing costs.

Policy Recommendation

Increase lead time given to military families prior to relocation

Basic Needs

While food insecurity is on the rise in recent years following the COVID-19 pandemic, the issue is not new, and the military and Veteran community is not insulated from it.

Across the country, service members and their loved ones are turning to food banks or seeking economic assistance to feed their families, and distribution programs exist on or near every single U.S. military base. Contributing to financial stress, military spouse un- and underemployment increase the threat of food insecurity, as do out-of-pocket living expenses, PCS expenses, and debt.

Policy Recommendations

  • Amend the Farm Bill to prevent the Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH) from being treated as income when calculating SNAP eligibility
  • Establish a basic needs allowance to supplement the base pay of junior enlisted members at or below 130% of the federal poverty line