First Lady Michelle Obama, Dr. Jill Biden Announce Push to Ease Administrative Burden on Military Spouses, Urge Action by State Legislatures
Initiative Was Key Recommendation in ‘Better Serving Those Who Served’ Report by Bennet’s Colorado Veterans Forum
Colorado U.S. Senator Michael Bennet today applauded the release of a new Department of Defense roadmap for states to streamline professional licensing requirements for military spouses, who are ten times more likely to move across state lines than civilian employees and must re-apply for licenses or certifications each time they do so. The roadmap is part of a report that found more than 100,000 military spouses require licenses or certifications for their professions.
The report was announced today by First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden, who asked states to work to simplify the patchwork set of occupational licensing requirements across state lines that create disproportionate financial and administrative burdens for military families.
The initiative was one of the central recommendations in the “Better Serving Those Who Served” report, which was prepared for Bennet by experts in the public and private sectors who participated in his Colorado Veterans Forum in Colorado Springs and Denver in August.
“Streamlining licenses for military spouses would be a huge help for military families in Colorado and across the country,” Bennet said. “Military spouses whose jobs require licensing must start the process from the beginning each time their husband or wife is transferred. This creates an undue burden on military families, who already sacrifice so much in support of their loved one’s service to our country. Especially in tough economic times, we should do everything we can to make it easier for military spouses to work and support their families.”
Izzy Abbass, VFW Commander of Post 1 in Colorado, said, “This is a very critical issue as it helps to reduce the already heavy burdens we ask our military families to endure in the name of service to our nation. In military families, everyone is serving. Easing the transfer of licensing across state lines is a small step we as a country can take to ease their relocation to new installations, and level the playing field for a military spouse applicant who has already met similar requirements in another state.”
There are currently 23,292 active duty spouses living in Colorado. An estimated 1 in 3 of them require professional licensure. A total of 11 states including Colorado, have adopted legislative language that supports military spouse license portability. Other states include: Alaska, Arizona, Florida, Kentucky, Missouri, Montana, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, and Washington.
The joint report from the Department of Defense and the Department of the Treasury, “Supporting our Military Families: Best Practices for Streamlining Occupational Licensing Across State Lines,” finds that military spouses move from state to state far more often than the general population as they accompany their service member spouse on assignment to military bases around the country and overseas. As a result of the frequent moves associated with military life and because licenses from one state do not always easily transfer to another state, spouses serving in professions that require state licenses bear disproportionally high financial and administrative burdens.
Key findings from the report include:
- More than 100,000 military spouses – 35 percent of military spouses in the labor force – require licenses or certifications for their professions.
- Military spouses are ten times more likely to have moved across state lines in the last year than their civilian counterparts.
- Teaching, child care service, and nursing are the top three most common occupations among military spouses – each of which typically requires state licensing or certification.
- A spouse’s employment plays a key role in the financial and personal well-being of military families, and their job satisfaction is an important component of the retention of service members. Additionally, in a 2008 Defense Manpower Data Center survey of military spouses, participants were asked what would have helped them with their employment search after their last military move. Nearly 40 percent of those respondents who had moved indicated that “easier state-to-state transfer of certification” would have helped them.
For the full report from the Defense and Treasury Departments, “Supporting our Military Families: Best Practices for Streamlining Occupational Licensing Across State Lines,” click here.
For the full report from Bennet’s Colorado Veterans Forum, “Better Serving Those Who Served,” click here.