First Lady, DoD Unveil Military Spouse Employment Report
Posted by Moran Banai on February 16
First Lady Michelle Obama yesterday challenged every state in America to find a solution by 2014 to the challenges military spouses face when they try to transfer professional licensures and certifications across state lines. Military families move more often than civilian families and many spouses find that after every move they must meet new requirements to do the jobs they have already done. Yesterday, the Departments of Defense (DoD) and Treasury (DoT) released a report outlining this challenge and offered best practices to solve the problem. IAVA identified this as a top issue in our recent report, Unsung Heroes: Military Families After Ten Years of War, and strongly encourages governors across the country to work with the administration to address this problem.
According to the DoD/DoT report, nearly thirty-five percent of military spouses, or about 100,000 men and women, have jobs that require professional licensures or certifications, like nursing, teaching and childcare. Military spouses are also ten times more likely to move across state lines than their civilian counterparts because of the frequent changes of station required of service members and their families. Licensing rules are determined at the state level to ensure that professionals meet the needs and requirements of their communities. These rules pose unique challenges, often at significant cost, for military spouses who move frequently: they must constantly fill out new paperwork, meet new requirements and sometimes they end up putting their careers on hold to do so.
The administration’s goal is to make this process less cumbersome while ensuring that states maintain the necessary oversight of professional licensing and certification. Eleven states have already passed laws to simplify the process for military spouses and thirteen others have proposed legislation to ease the problem. The report looked at the different approaches used by different states and developed a list of best practices that the other twenty-six states could use. These practices include:
1) Giving spouses a temporary or provisional license while they fulfill additional requirements.
2) Using different methods to speed up the application process.
3) Making it easier to accept current licenses as long as the requirements are equivalent to those in the new state.
These small changes would make a big difference to military spouses who already serve alongside their service members with dignity and courage. They would level the playing field so that military spouses can also serve in their own fields of expertise and continue to develop their careers. Changing licensing and certification processes must happen at the state level with state concerns in mind. IAVA strongly supports all efforts to improve the lives of military spouses and is available to help any state governments make this transition.
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