Military Community and Family Policy is committed to helping military spouses establish careers, build on their education and experience, and ultimately achieve their personal and professional goals.
Careers should not be sidelined by the financial or administrative burdens of getting a new professional license every time a military spouse moves across state lines.
We understand these are real concerns. Many spouses are trained and experienced as teachers, counselors, accountants, health-care workers and in other professions requiring state licensing. They enter a new state every two – three years and must renew their license, find employment and progress in their career.
Our Defense State Liaison Office is working with State governments to remove barriers for thousands of spouses with occupational licenses by assisting State legislatures with legislation that can help reduce the time taken by military spouses to renew their licenses. We are making progress. So far, 16 States have enacted bills that assist military spouses with license portability for health related occupations (nurses, radiologists, etc.) and commercial professions (architects, cosmetologists, interior designers, etc.).
One group we have not been able to help has been attorneys, because their licenses are generally governed by each State’s highest court. To explore possible solutions for this group of professional spouses, MC&FP has had the assistance of the Military Spouse JD Network, a nonprofit organization that helps military spouses in the legal profession navigate licensing rules. The network’s mission is to support military spouses by educating about the barriers to bar membership, encouraging companies to hire military spouses and providing a network of military spouses for support and information.
The network’s message is gaining the support of the legal community and recently the American Bar Association (ABA) adopted a resolution advocating that States assist military spouse attorneys. The resolution acknowledged the challenges military spouses face and encouraged States to do what they can to remove licensing barriers and support employment opportunities for them. The Idaho Supreme Court has already issued a rule to allow qualified military spouses to apply for admission to the bar without an additional time consuming and expensive examination.
Military spouses are an adaptable, resilient, educated, and dedicated work force. By working with the Military Spouse JD Network, we have been able to expand our efforts with States to alleviate some of the licensing barriers that inhibit military spouses from showing how they can contribute through fulfilling careers.
We will continue to update you with news on our efforts as well as what states are doing to support our military spouses. And, we invite you to join our discussion and share your own experiences related to licensing barriers. Thank you.
Marcus Beauregard, Chief, DoD-State Liaison Office, Office of the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense (Military Community and Family Policy)
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