States Have Key Role to Play in Supporting All Members of Military Families

Serving in the Armed Forces or being part of a military family means enduring frequent life changes. In a number of those instances, state policies can make a considerable difference in easing those transitions.

In a recent interview with American Forces Press Service, Navy Capt. Bradley Cooper, the new executive director of the White House’s “Joining Forces” campaign, listed three critical issues states should pay attention to.

For military spouses, professional licensing can be a tremendous hassle, typically forcing spouses to requalify for licenses when they move to a new state, Cooper said.

“This is a big deal, with almost 40 percent of spouses who are full-time employees being in some sort of a profession with a license,” he said.

A related concern is job credentialing. Departing service members with experience in a broad range of jobs — for example commercial vehicle operators, IT workers and medical technicians — need either a state license or certificate to pursue their career in the civilian world. Depending on the state, gaining that credential may require additional coursework, testing or a degree.

Military kids have been forced to navigate varying requirements among states when they transfer to a new school. The Interstate Compact on Educational Opportunity for Military Children helps to make such moves easier for children in a number of areas, including enrollment, placement, attendance, eligibility and graduation. So far, 39 states have endorsed the compact, but Cooper is aiming to get all 50 onboard.

“It’s time to do it, and the first lady is a great voice to push this forward,” he said. First Lady Michelle Obama and Jill Biden, wife of Vice President Joe Biden, helped launch Joining Forces to mobilize all sectors of society to support service members and their families.


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