Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Cleopatra Tucker, Gordon Johnson, Jamel Holley and Wayne DeAngelo to help provide military families with more flexibility regarding the use of their housing allowance when they receive orders to relocate gained the approval of the General Assembly on Thursday.

“Oftentimes service in the military requires members to relocate with little or no prior notice, which puts a great deal of stress on military families,” said Tucker (D-Essex). “By minimizing disruption to the lives of service members’ spouses and children, this legislation will ensure that members can balance their commitments to both the military and their families.”

The resolution (AR-134) would urge the president and Congress to enact the “Military Family Stability Act,” federal legislation that would allow military family members to move to a new location either six months before or after a service member’s permanent change of station report date. The sponsors noted that the measure would provide military spouses with more time to adjust career plans, if needed, and would limit the chances of a child having to transition to a new school in the middle of an academic year.

The federal bill would allow military family members to receive, for up to six months, a housing allowance based on their current location while the service member would receive housing compensation or be provided with temporary unaccompanied housing at the new location.

Military family members would be eligible for the housing allowance if:

  • the spouse is employed or enrolled in a degree, certificate or license program;
  • the service member and spouse have at least one child in school;
  • the spouse or child is covered under the Exceptional Family Member Program;
  • the service member or spouse is caring for an immediate family member with a chronic or long-term illness; or
  • the service member is undergoing a permanent change of station as an individual augmentee or other deployment arrangement.

“We all recognize the difficulties that members of our armed forces face, but we would be remiss to overlook the challenges their spouses and children also deal with,” said Johnson (D-Bergen). “Abrupt and frequent relocations can affect family members’ ability to hold down a job or finish school. Our state and our nation must take an active role in making these transitions easier for military families.”

“Giving military families more time to plan a move can help ensure that they can make the appropriate arrangements for school-age children or loved ones who may need special medical care, for example,” said Holley (D-Union). “This legislation is about providing some flexibility for the men and women who put their lives on the line for the sake of our nation.”

“The men and women who serve in America’s military love their families and their country above all else,” said DeAngelo (D-Mercer/Middlesex). “When they know that their loved ones are taken care of, they’re better able to devote themselves to military service. As such, this is, fundamentally, a means of advancing national security, which benefits all Americans.”

The legislation gained unanimous approval.