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DEFENSE COMMUNITIES 360

New Report Urges States to Lower Barriers to Spouse Employment

  • February 15, 2012
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States can take a number of steps to streamline the process for military spouses to obtain occupational licenses following a move, according to a new report prepared by DOD and the Treasury Department.

The report received a high-powered rollout Wednesday at the Pentagon, featuring First Lady Michelle Obama, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, Joint Chiefs Chairman Army Gen. Martin Dempsey and Jill Biden, wife of the vice president.

Because states set their own licensing requirements, obtaining a new license is a “huge headache” and one of the most significant hurdles for spouses attempting to maintain their careers, said Navy Capt. Brad Cooper, executive director of the White House’s Joining Forces initiative, reported American Forces Press Service. As a result, military spouses’ unemployment rate is double that of their civilian counterparts.

Obama highlighted the efforts of states that have taken on the problem. In Tennessee, officials are granting temporary licenses in many professions, enabling spouses to start working before they finish state licensing requirements. The director of the state licensing agency in Colorado has the power to waive lengthy requirements for spouses who can demonstrate their competence. In Arizona, the first lady noted, lawmakers passed a measure to grant licenses to military spouses in most professions who have at least one year of experience.

A total of 11 states have adopted laws to aid spouse license portability, and 13 have legislation pending or waiting to be introduced, Cooper said.

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