States Are Standing Up for Military Spouses: An Update on Spouse Licensure Legislation

Marcus Beauregard, Chief, DoD-State Liaison Office, Office of the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense (Military Community and Family Policy)

Between frequent relocations, maintaining the household during a service member’s deployment, and providing strength and support to the entire family, military spouses make sacrifices every day.  Their service to this country is invaluable and such an important part of the success of our military.

But military spouses should not have to sacrifice their career dreams or the financial stability of their families because of the military lifestyle.  Military spouses deserve an equal opportunity to pursue their career goals and should not be sidelined by the financial or administrative burdens of applying for a new license every time they move across state lines.  The good news is that the DoD, working through its liaisons to state governments, is addressing this issue to ensure military spouses can pursue their careers regardless of the number of times they have to relocate.

Today, First Lady Michelle Obama joined Illinois Governor Pat Quinn in Chicago to participate in a bill signing ceremony on military spouse licensure.  The bill, like those in other states, is designed to remove licensing barriers for relocating military spouses.  Illinois is now the 21st state to enact supportive spouse legislation, which nearly doubles the number of states that have agreed to tackle this issue in just the last few months!

Many occupations—from teachers and nurses, to health care workers and counselors—require a state license, but states often have specific conditions and processes, making it difficult to transfer licenses from one state to another.  This can consume valuable time and impose significant administrative and financial burdens on our military spouses as they move across state lines, and many spouses get burnt out just attempting to pursue the jobs they are qualified to do!

But the DoD is working hard to educate states about these issues and states are stepping up in increasing numbers!  Many state governments have agreed to remove barriers and make the licensure process quicker for military spouses by adopting the best practices detailed in the report “Supporting Our Military Families: Best Practices for Streamlining Occupational Licensing Across State Lines.” The report provides easy, low to no-cost solutions to state governments, such as offering licensure through the endorsement of a current license, providing a temporary or provisional license to allow military spouses to begin work immediately, and expediting the application processes.

With 21 states already committed to this endeavor, we are confident that our continued efforts will result in even more states joining together to support military spouses on this important issue. If you are interested in learning more about the legislation and the progress of legislation in the various states, check out the full report on USA4MilitaryFamilies.  If you want detailed information on which states have signed on to support military spouses and how you take advantage of that support, go to MilitaryHOMEFRONT. Finally, if you are a military spouse with a story to tell—about your relocation and your attempts to renew your license—we want to hear from you!  Join our discussion and share with us.  The more we hear from military spouses, the better we can advocate on your behalf!

Military spouses deserve every opportunity to choose and pursue a career that is personally and professionally rewarding. We won’t stop working until we know that military spouses have the support they need to make this a reality.

Visit the Military Community and Family Policy on Twitter, Facebook,  or on their home page.

For the Pentagon Channel interview, click here.

Read the American Forces Press Service article.

 

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