Be a Spouse Lobbyist Without Being in D.C.

In this Sept. 3, 2018, file photo an American flag flies on the U.S. Capitol in Washington. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
In this Sept. 3, 2018, file photo an American flag flies on the U.S. Capitol in Washington. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

The Friday before Mother's Day is Military Spouse Appreciation Day. This year, the National Military Spouse Network (NMSN) is mobilizing military spouses around the world to "Storm the Hill" to ask lawmakers to go beyond recognition and, instead, choose action to reduce military spouse unemployment.

The best part? For once, you don't have to be living in the Beltway to have a chance at advocacy.

Spouses across the nation are making appointments with their legislators Friday to discuss the military spouse unemployment rate and a white paper produced by NMSN focusing on such issues as the reintroduction of the Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC). The white paper, released earlier this year, addresses some of the unique challenges military spouses face with a call to action for legislation that makes entrepreneurship and employment easier.

Looking at issues ranging from the Status of Forces Agreement that makes working overseas more challenging to restrictions that prohibit some at-home businesses from operating on base, NMSN calls for readers to collect information, act, support, inform and educate. Storming the Hill will continue this work and raise it to the national level.

"Despite multiple initiatives, the military spouse unemployment rate remains around 24 percent. It's time to change the conversation," said Sue Hoppin, founder and president of NMSN. "We are mobilized, and Storming the Hill is an opportunity to advocate for our community. Military spouses want to work and help provide for their families."

So how can you get involved from your home base?

While there is a heavy concentration of "stormers" in Washington, D.C., NMSN wants spouses to contact their local district offices as well, to make appointments where they live. Advocacy experts say pushing for change has to start at the local level. Ensuring the conversation is happening across the country is imperative for raising the conversation to larger platforms.

Air Force Reserve spouse Brooke Goldberg will be storming the offices of Rep. Adam Smith, D- Washington; Rep. Don Beyer, D-Virginia; and Rep. Rick Larsen, D- Washington. Why is she storming? "Because the American dream shouldn't be out of reach for so many military families," she said.

Marine Corps spouse MJ Boice will be storming the office of Sen. Gary Peters, D-Michigan, on Friday. "I'm not only storming for my family's economic stability," she said, "I'm storming for yours too."

So how can you get involved right where you are? Call your representative's office and storm your own hill with the National Military Spouse Network on Friday. Find your representative here, and be sure to use the #NMSNStormstheHill hashtag.

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