Rep. Vella-Wilkinson bill would create position of military spouse liaison for outreach and advocacy


    STATE HOUSE — Rep. Camille F.J. Vella-Wilkinson (D-Dist. 21, Warwick) has introduced legislation that would create the position of military spouse liaison in the Office of Veterans Services to conduct outreach and advocate on behalf of military spouses in the state.

    Under the legislation (2024-H 7184), the liaison would provide assistance and information to military spouses seeking professional licenses and credentials or other employment in the state, in addition to coordinating research on issues facing military spouses and their families.    

    “While going through my military constituents’ notes, I realized I had nearly as many family members reach out to me for assistance as veterans themselves,” said Representative Vella-Wilkinson. “I believe it is critical for military families to have a trained, dedicated professional to respond to their questions and needs. Furthermore, the outreach this person provides will assist in disseminating information to the veterans. It’s a win-win proposition.”

    The issue has become a priority for the Department of Defense, according to Melissa J. Willette, the New England Region Liaison for the department’s State Liaison Office, which represents the department and establishes relationships with state leaders across the country.

    “When military families are supported in their communities through improved education, healthcare and employment opportunities, it reduces stress and distractions for service members, allowing them to focus more effectively on their mission,” said Willette. “Livable communities with robust support systems for military families can be a key factor in the decision of service members to continue their military career. Additionally, such communities are attractive to potential recruits who consider the quality of life for their families when deciding to join the military.”

    The bill, which is cosponsored by Representatives José F. Batista (D-Dist. 12, Providence), Raymond A. Hull (D-Dist. 6 Providence, North Providence), Katherine S. Kazarian (D-Dist. 63, East Providence, Pawtucket), Samuel A. Azzinaro (D-Dist. 37, Westerly), Thomas E. Noret (D-Dist. 25, Coventry, West Warwick), Mia Ackerman (D-Dist. 45, Cumberland, Lincoln), David Morales (D-Dist. 7, Providence) and Evan Patrick Shanley (D-Dist. 24, Warwick, East Greenwich), has been referred to the House Veterans Affairs Committee.