Parents in the Armed Forces

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Did you know that close to 2 million children have at least one parent who serves in the armed forces? Forty-three percent of American troops are parents, with most of them being fathers.

The sacrifices made by our servicemen, women, and their families too often go under acknowledged. Military kids and military families make sacrifices and alongside service members. Our July Spotlight will provide an update on National Military Affairs, with a focus on military families and children, and look at the VALOR Act passed in Massachusetts in May, 2012.

Veteran Unemployment

Historically, veterans have been more likely to find employment than non-veterans; however, for the veterans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan this is not the case. The unemployment rate for these veterans climbed from 11.5% in 2010 to 12.1% in 2011. Compare this to the 2011 unemployment rate of 8.7% percent for the general population and it is clear there is a pressing need to try to ameliorate this high unemployment rate. Most concerning is the 30% unemployment rate in 2011 for the veterans aged 18 to 24. These veterans have learned invaluable skills including leadership and decision making, but too many of these veterans cannot find an employment opportunity back at home.

Recently, Congress has taken action to help veterans find work. There is a new tax credit in place worth up to $5,600 for employers that hired unemployed veterans. This doubles the tax credit for employers that hired disabled veterans out of work at least six months, moving it to $9,600. In his speech at Golden Valley, Minnesota on June 1, 2012, President Obama outlined his vision for how Congress can be doing even more to help businesses create jobs for veterans. This plan includes the creation of a Veterans Job Corps, job search services through the Veterans Gold Card program and an online Veterans Job Bank to help veterans find jobs that meet their talents.  The Department of Defense has been directed to establish a task force charged with finding opportunities for service members to use the skills they have gained in the military.

Women on Submarines
It has been six months since the Navy ended its ban on having women on submarines. Twenty-five women reported to their boats in November in the first group to break the Navy’s gender barriers. According to several women interviewed by the Associated Press, they are acclimating well and being accepted among their crews. Once on the submarine, the officers indicated that they did feel divide between genders: “Once you get down there, you’re not a female, you’re a submarine (junior officer).”

Wheelock Center for Excellence for Military Children and Families

At Wheelock, we extend our mission to improve the lives of children and families to include military-connected individuals. The Wheelock Center for Excellence for Military Children and Families was established in 2011 in collaboration with the Massachusetts National Guard and the Military Child Education Coalition to draw attention to the many services available to aid military children and families, maximizing the visibility of military support systems and offering the resources of the Wheelock community to military families. As the number of service men and women returning home increase, the adjustment challenges that families face grow as well. The goal of the Center for Excellence for Military Children and Families is to provide social, emotional and intellectual support amid great change. More information, please visit:Wheelock Center for Excellence for Military Children and Families

The VALOR Act “An Act Relative to Veterans’ Access, Livelihood, Opportunity, and Resources”

On May 31, 2012, Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick signed the VALOR Act. This act increases supports for veteran-owned businesses, Gold Star Families, military children, and higher education access.

  • Provides greater access to financial assistance for small businesses.
  • Affords greater opportunities for service-disabled veterans to participate in public projects
  • Makes it easier for military children to transfer between school districts/states.
  • Expands supports from the Massachusetts Military Family Relief Fund to Gold Star Families.
    • The fund derives from voluntary tax check off on income tax returns and funds living expenses of members of the Massachusetts National Guard.
  • MA will join Interstate Compact on Educational Opportunity for Military Children to make transferring schools easier.
    • The average military child transfers more than twice during high school alone and typically attends between 6-9 school systems during K-12.
  • Calls for the state Board of Higher Education to require each institution of public higher education to develop a set of policies governing evaluation of a military member’s service career for institutional credit by March 1, 2013.
  • Prohibits local hiring authorities from requesting medical records not requested by the Human Resources Department.
  • Eliminates the $2,500 property income tax credit limit that applies to the surviving spouse/family of deceased service members that applies from year 6 onwards.

To learn more about resources and services for Massachusetts veterans and military families, visit: www.MassVetsAdvisor.org.

Resources to find additional information:

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