Anyone familiar with the military lifestyle knows that moving is an unavoidable aspect. Maintaining meaningful long-term employment for military spouses through several moves is a crushing stressor for military families.
Key inhibitors to maintaining employment for military spouses are state licensure laws. According to a study by the Department of Defense, more than 35 percent of military spouses have jobs that require some type of state-specific license or certification, and many of these must be renewed every time you move.
We recently contacted Bianca Strzalkowski, a director at Blue Star Families and founder of the Military Spouse Education Initiative, to learn more about what is being done to help out military spouses facing this issue. We were surprised to learn that 27 percent of respondents to a Blue Star survey have faced some type of complication in renewing or applying for an employment license when moving across state lines.
With these high numbers in mind, Michelle Obama met with governors of all states as part of the Joining Forces initiative in February to express the need for legislation aimed at simplifying and expediting this process for military spouses to ensure our nation gives ample opportunity to employ those who are sacrificing so much already.
Twenty-six states have since passed legislation to help military spouses keep licensure across state lines — most recently, North Carolina on July 17. While this impressive and a great first step, Strzalkowski is hoping that the remaining states follow in their footsteps by drafting and passing legislation soon.
The Department of Defense has also released examples of a number of initiatives and rule changes that best ease the process for military spouses. Everything from licensure by endorsement to temporary licensing are meant to ease the financial burden on military families as well as expedite the generally time consuming process.
Bianca is hoping that public awareness of the sacrifices made by our nation’s military families as well as helpful legislation passed on a state-by-state basis can stop military spouse unemployment by simplifying the process of obtaining gainful employment.
For information concerning where your state stands on passing legislation concerning military spouse employment, check out this interactive map from the Department of Defense.
Photo courtesy Sean MacEntee