President Biden today will announce a series of executive actions that will increase the economic security of military and veteran spouses, caregivers and survivors.
Military-connected families regularly sacrifice for our country, whether or not a loved one happens to be deployed. Many military and veteran spouses, caregivers, and survivors — the vast majority of whom are women — struggle to achieve their desired career goals due to the strains of multiple deployments; frequent moves with little control over their geographic location; caring for wounded, ill and injured servicemembers or veterans; time apart for training, and more.
Military spouses face a 21-percent unemployment rate, a rate that has not significantly changed over the past decade. These challenges are not limited to active-duty spouses, as Reserve and National Guard spouses must balance their careers against the challenges that arise when their servicemember is activated and deployed.
The American Legion has long supported these type of initiatives designed to assist military families.
For example, Resolution No. 81, approved by the National Executive Committee (NEC) at national convention in 2017, explicitly states that The American Legion supports and encourages the public and private sectors to hire military spouses.
Additionally, Resolution No. 18, the Comprehensive Supports for Caregiver Support Program, was approved by the NEC during its Spring Meetings in 2022. This resolution states that The American Legion supports supplemental support for veteran caregivers – specifically, that the Legion endorses programs that will help bereaving family member caregivers transition from VA caregiver supports and services.
Highlights of today’s order include:
• Directing the development of a government-wide Strategic Plan on Hiring and Retention for Military and Veteran Spouses, Caregivers and Survivors. To ensure the coordination of military-connected hiring and retention efforts across the Federal government, the Executive Order directs the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) and the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), in consultation with the Secretaries of Defense, Labor, Veterans Affairs, and Homeland Security, to identify strategies to eliminate barriers to the hiring and retention of military and veteran spouses, caregivers and survivors. The Strategic Plan, due within 180 days, will include plans for marketing the talent, experience, and diversity of military and veteran spouses, caregivers, and survivors to agencies and encouragement for agencies to set benchmarks to improve performance and accountability.
• Increasing federal job postings using the Military Spouse Noncompetitive Appointment Authority.
• Setting government-wide standards to improve the Domestic Employee Teleworking Overseas (DETO) program. DETO enables certain federal employees to work remotely from an overseas location, helps the government carry out its global mission, supports family unification, and retains valuable talent and expertise in the federal workforce, including military spouses residing with their servicemember stationed overseas.
• Bolstering access to child care for military families. To continue building on the existing support and ensure that military families have access to affordable, high-quality child care allowing both the servicemember and the spouse to pursue professional opportunities, the Executive Order directs the implementation of Dependent Care Flexible Saving Accounts for servicemembers no later than Jan. 1, 2024, as well as expansion of pathways for military spouses to provide home-based child care on military installations.
• Directing OPM to issue guidance to agencies outlining telework and remote work flexibility for military spouses and caregivers.
• Encouraging federal agencies to collaborate to place a military spouse or caregiver in another position following changes to support continuity of care or relocation due to a PCS that makes it untenable for them to continue in their existing position.