Financial Security

According to the Department of Defense (DoD), active-duty military members relocate, on average, once every two to three years – typically across state lines or overseas. Such relocation can contribute to financial insecurity by making it difficult for military spouses to find and maintain gainful employment.

Moreover, the limited availability and high costs of childcare, out-of-pocket relocation and housing expenses, and unexpected financial emergencies, can compound to exacerbate the financial circumstances of modern military families.

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


Service Member Compensation

Description:

To recruit and retain talented individuals into the Armed Forces, service member compensation must be competitive with that of the civilian sector.

Recommendation:

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

Spouse Employment

Description:

Military spouse unemployment and underemployment continue to persist despite legislative and community efforts. Blue Star Families has been tracking this issue since the inception of its annual Military Family Lifestyle Survey in 2009, and we have elevated military spouse employment to the forefront of DoD and legislative conversations.

Recommendations:

  • Incentivize private sector employers to initiate flexible work programs for military spouses by amending the Internal Revenue Code to make employers of military spouses eligible for the Work Opportunity Tax Credit (thereby 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 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

Housing

Description:

Department of Defense (DoD) policy is written to ensure that military families have access to quality, affordable housing, which reflects current community living standards. Cuts to the basic allowance for housing (BAH) affect military families who choose to reside off-installation, but can also affect families who reside on-installation. BAH impacts base housing sustainment funding, which ensures that the DoD continues to provide military families with the quality housing its policies require.

Recommendation:

  • Restore BAH to 100% of local area rent

Relocation & Out-of-Pocket Expenses

Description:

According to the Department of Defense (DoD), active-duty military families move an average of once every two to three years, typically across state lines or overseas. Such moves can involve out-of-pocket expenses. When compounded by insufficient service member compensation, spouse un/underemployment, and the high costs of childcare, out-of-pocket relocation expenses can greatly contribute to a military family’s financial stress.

Recommendation:

  • Increase lead time given to military families prior to relocation

Basic Needs

Description:

Across the country, service members and their spouses are turning to food pantries for aid in feeding their families. This is neither an isolated problem nor a novel one. Military families are being served by food pantries and distribution programs on or near every single military base in the United States.

Recommendation:

  • 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