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Sen. Tim Kaine Announces Military Family Legislation at ODU Event

By Jon Cawley

U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine visited Old Dominion's Virginia Modeling and Simulation Center to announce new legislation he plans to introduce to help reduce military spouse unemployment and examine the effects of recurrent moves and reassignments on military spouses' careers.

Kaine, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, and co-chair of the Senate Military Family Caucus, is the father of a Marine. He was joined for the announcement by military family advocates and military spouses, including Taylor Miller, a Navy wife and student at Old Dominion pursuing a master's degree in public administration.

Military families frequently face financial insecurity due to spousal unemployment, which impacts the overall success of the military. Somewhere between 12 and 25 percent of military spouses are unemployed, according to a release send by Kaine's office.

The VMASC campus was an appropriate location for the announcement given the work done there by engineers to develop new technologies, many of which aid Department of Defense initiatives. Additionally, about 25 percent of the University's student body is comprised of veterans, active duty service member, their spouses and dependants.

"Old Dominion University is setting a good standard in terms of the work that it does for veterans, actives and military families," he said, in introductory remarks. "Many times over the years, really dating back to my time as Lt. Governor, I've been to events, either on the Old Dominion campus, or with ODU students, and I'm always impressed with their commitment."

The legislation was derived from conversations Kaine had over the past year with military family advocacy organizations where he heard diverse opinions from military spouses and business leaders, the statement said.

"I've been extremely focused on this for many months," Kaine said, noting that the effort began in 2012 when he was running for the Senate. "The discussions that we had have helped us craft a bill that deals with four particular areas: direct employment opportunities, continuing education, childcare and then counseling in transition. They don't completely cover the universe of everything that a military spouse might need but I think it's a really good, solid bill that can help us tackle this problem."

Kaine was joined by four military spouses, affiliated with the Military Family Advisory Network, who shared their own experiences and challenges as spouses who sought to continue their careers in the midst of deployments and moves.

Taylor Miller, who is a community outreach manager for the Foodbank of Southeastern Virginia and the Eastern Shore, said she has been living and working in Hampton Roads for four years.

Following the event, Miller said she discovered her true passion while working in the non-profit sector during a "career re-invention" period after arriving in Norfolk. Now she is pursuing public administration to further that pursuit.

"The experience has been great," she said. "In terms of working with ODU to get in-state tuition reimbursement, as a military spouse who is not necessarily a resident of Virginia right now, the process has been very smooth and I very much appreciate that."

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