BPW Foundation's Women Misbehavin' Blog

Well behaved women never make history

State Action Needed to Assist Military Spouses with Professional License Issues

Posted by sherrysaunders on February 16, 2012

I was pleased to represent BPW Foundation at the announcement of the new report on military spouse employment that First Lady Michelle Obama, Dr. Jill Biden, Secretary Panetta and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Martin Dempsey presented at the Pentagon on Wednesday, February 15th.  The report, “Supporting our Military Families: Best Practices for Streamlining Occupational Licensing Across State Lines,” explains the hardship military spouses face as they move from state to state with their service member. As a result of the many moves associated with military life, spouses working in professions that require state licenses or certification bear a higher high financial and administrative burden, since credentials often do not transfer from one state do to another state. This burden negatively impacts the chances for employment for more than 100,000 military spouses.

The First Lady urged states to pass legislation based on the best practices already in place in several states and said she personally would be urging governors and state legislators to move quickly to put in place rules that would assist military spouses.   She along with all of the other speakers noted the importance of the family in the success of our mission and said that cutting red tape on the portability of occupational licenses would be a big step in easing the burden on military families as they move from state to state.

Eleven of 50 states have already enacted legislation that supports portability of occupational licenses for military spouses including: Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Kentucky, Missouri, Montana, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, and Washington. Thirteen states have proposed legislation that would assist military spouses if signed into law including: Colorado, Delaware, Hawaii, Indiana, Kansas, Nebraska, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Virginia, and West Virginia.

Among the nearly 50 professions that state licensure requirements affect are teachers, nurses, speech pathologists, dental hygienists, physical therapists, counselors, marriage and family therapists, occupational therapists, social workers, physician assistants, emergency medical technicians and dieticians, the release said, noting that 11 of 50 states have enacted legislation that supports portability for military spouses with occupational licenses

The report provides practical, real and concrete suggestions that states can use as they consider their own legislation.  The First Lady stressed that the report is a road map for states with ideas and suggestions and not an edict or decree.

The report is just one step in the Obama administration’s Joining Forces initiative, launched  by First Lady Michelle Obama and Jill Biden to bring together the resources of many government agencies and private sector groups to support military members, veterans and their families. This report was a joint effort of the Departments of Defense and Treasury.

This issue has been a priority for the Pentagon for sometime, having set up a Facebook page during summer to encourage military spouses to advocate for states to change their licensing rules.

BPW Foundation strongly supports this effort by the Administration to help our military families and urges you to find out what your state requirements are on portability of licenses for military spouses and if they are working to  make it easier for a military spouse transferred to your state.  Check with your state legislators.

You can also help our women veterans and military spouses by becoming a mentor.  BPW Foundations Joining Forces for Women Veterans and Military Spouses Mentoring Plus®is built on our long history of women helping women.  Join us in this effort to give back to those who have given so much.

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