Freedom New Mexico: Eric Butler The counter at the Motor Vehicle Department office in Portales is an example of a place military spouses would like to avoid after moving to an area. Proposed legislation in Congress would allow spouses to keep one state as their official home state.
By Eric Butler: Freedom New Mexico
For one group of women, the message is simply put right in the middle of the logo they’ve created for their organization.
“Military spouses: We deserve a home state too.”
The Military Spouse Business Association only has one major problem with the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act, originally passed as the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Civil Relief Act in 1940: Spouses aren’t part of it.
The act currently provides for a large number of legal exceptions for those constantly on the move because of service in the military.
And things like the ability to keep one state as the official state of residency for military personnel, no matter where they go, are no little matter — according to some spouses. And they’d like to have it too.
Sonya Rettig just moved to Clovis with her husband, MSgt. Rick Rettig, from North Carolina in early July. The Rettigs, in 12 years of marriage, have gone from New York to Ohio to Hawaii to Colorado to North Carolina to New Mexico.
For the past three moves, Sonya has had to get a new driver’s license because she’s now an official resident of a new state — something she notes her husband doesn’t have to do.
“He’s fortunate enough to where he has a waiver, even though his license is expired, due to the fact that he’s a military member,” Rettig, 32, said.
Though a veteran of the military move, Rettig isn’t use to it just yet.
“It can be a real hassle at times. Sometimes, like in North Carolina, I had to take a test — and in Hawaii as well — to get my driver’s license,” she said. “Not only do you have to learn your way around the area, look for jobs, get your kids registered for school, you have this on top of it. A driver’s license seems like a miniscule thing that you have to do.”
In Washington, the Military Spouse Business Association is spearheading a bill that would allow spouses — if they so desired — to also claim the home state of their significant others who are in the military.
According to Rebecca Poynter, one of the founders of the association, 43 senators have signed onto the bill as co-sponsors while 124 representatives in the House have done the same.
“My point of view, without being overly dramatic, is that spouses do sacrifice and this would be one way to simplify their lives,” said Poynter, 45, doing a phone interview while unpacking from her latest move.
“This would kind of level the playing field. There’d be a whole set of things they wouldn’t have to go through when arriving at a new place,” she said.