Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand today announced a new push to include bipartisan legislation aimed at accommodating service members and their families when their duty stations change in the upcoming National Defense Authorization Act, legislation Congress is set to debate this month. Senator Gillibrand’s legislation, The Military Family Stability Act, would provide flexibility to military families with up to six months of support for geographic stability either before or after a service member’s permanent change of station, which would allow, among other things, students to finish the school year and parents to start or finish professional or educational programs. Senator Gillibrand first introduced the legislation in October 2015 with Senators Roy Blunt (R-MO), Richard Burr (R-NC), and Mazie Hirono (D-HI).
“We’ve heard from our military families about the challenges they face when a service member is reassigned, and we need policies that better accommodate spouses with careers and children in school,” said Senator Gillibrand. “The Military Family Stability Act would better serve the modern military family to give our service members, their spouses, and their children new resources and much-needed flexibility when they have to move. We owe it to them to pass this legislation, and I’ll be pushing to include these measures in the upcoming national defense bill that Congress is debating this month.”
“The strength of our military lies in the unwavering support our service members receive from their families,” Senator Blunt said. “The Military Family Stability Act honors their sacrifice by helping to address one of the frequent challenges these families face: an ill-timed move that cuts into a child’s school year or costs a spouse a career opportunity. Providing families more stability in the course of a relocation is a common-sense step we can take to help ease the strain of military life. I’m pleased to work with Senator Gillibrand on this bill, and hope all of our Senate colleagues will join us in moving the measure forward.”
When service members receive orders to relocate, their families face challenges: Should they move their children in the middle of the school year? How will they cover the cost of relocating? What to do about a spouse’s job opportunities? The Military Family Stability Act would provide support for families whose service member and spouse choose to live apart, so that the spouse can find a new job, or their children can finish out a school year. It would provide families with greater flexibility in timing their relocation, and greater peace of mind.
Senator Gillibrand’s bipartisan legislation would do the following:
- Allow military-dependent children to remain in their current school, or move early to the next duty location to begin school during a summer or winter break;
- Allow military spouses to continue working for up to six months in their current job, or move early to the next location to pursue job opportunities;
- Enable military spouses to complete their degree, certification or license-granting programs within six months before moving to their next duty station;
- Increase flexibility for those caring for a family member with a chronic or long-term illness;
- Accommodate families of deploying individual augmentees or other unique scenarios;
- Require DoD-wide enforcement, to ensure parity among the services.
Organizations that have endorsed the legislation include: Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW), The American Legion, National Military Family Association (NMFA), The Military Officers Association of America (MOAA), The Military Child Education Coalition (MCEC), Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA), Blue Star Families, and the Veterans Support Foundation.