Supporting Military Families
The North Country is a region that is steeped in military tradition. For generations, brave men and women from our corner of the country have proudly answered the call to serve and put themselves in harm’s way to defend our great nation.
Our district is home to the largest population of veterans of any district in New York State, as well as premier military installations: Kesserling Site, a Navy nuclear training installation and Fort Drum, home of the 10th Mountain Division, the most-deployed Army Division to Iraq and Afghanistan since the September 11th terrorist attacks.
I’ve had honor of meeting hundreds of servicemembers from our region and across the globe, all fighting for our freedoms. Not only have I been impressed by their steadfast dedication to our country, but I’ve been captivated with the stories they have shared of their loved ones back home. These military families face multiple relocations, deployments and many other challenges, and do so with strength, dedication and love.
Standing beside each one of our brave Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines is a loving, supportive and dedicated family whose sacrifice is a true service to our great nation. Military families are resilient through countless relocations, leaving friends, networks and transitioning to new schools and new jobs while fitting in to new communities. They wear their own patches of service and share a true sense of duty to our country. We must do all we can to ease their burden and support these patriots.
I have introduced three bills aimed at easing the burden military families face when their servicemember is relocated.
The Military Family Stability Act
The Military Family Stability Act improves the transition process for military families when they receive orders for a Permanent Change of Station (PCS) report date. It would provide military families with the flexibility they need to make a successful transition to their new jobs, schools and communities.
This bill allows military spouses and families to continue to work up to six months in their current job, or, if they choose, move up to six months early to their next location in order to secure or begin new full-time employment. Additionally, this bill would allow military spouses to extend education they may be pursuing, or allow children in military families to smoothly transition to their new school before or after a new term begins.
Lift the Relocation Burden from Military Spouses Act
As military spouses move from state to state with their servicemember on military orders, it is important that we do what is necessary to make sure they have the opportunity to maintain their hard-earned professional licensing and certification. New licensing regulations following relocation come with fees, are time consuming and vary significantly from state to state.
To alleviate this disproportionate burden and provide predictability in the lives of military spouses and their families, I have reintroduced the Lift Relocation Burden from Military Spouses Act. This bill would expedite license portability and provide a reimbursement for licensing fees up to $500 for each Permanent Change of Station. Additionally, this bill would require the Department of Defense to conduct a study to determine ways to improve the military spouse unemployment and underemployment rate.
The Lift the Relocation Burden from Military Spouses Act will improve the lives of military families, help maintain employment security, and provide predictability to our military spouses and families.
The Military Residency Choice Act
Current law allows active duty servicemembers to maintain one state of legal residency for tax purposes even when they receive military orders requiring them to relocate. Unfortunately, spouses are only granted this benefit if the servicemember and spouse have the same residence at the time of their marriage. This poses an unnecessary burden by forcing military spouses to establish a new residency every time their servicemember receive orders for a PCS.
The Military Residency Choice Act would allow military spouses the choice to establish the same state of residency as their servicemember, giving flexibility to retain the same state for voting and tax purposes. This eliminates the tasks of documenting multiple tax jurisdictions that can cause some spouses to forego working all together.
Military families face challenges driven by frequent moves, deployments and erratic schedules. They are steadfast in their support for their servicemember and face unnecessary hardships while their loved ones are serving our nation. We must do all that we can to alleviate the undue stress and burdens military families face to give back to all those who have answered the call to serve. This legislative package addresses some of these challenges and gives these families deserved support and predictability.