All 50 states have taken action to ease the requirements for military spouses to gain professional licenses or credentials needed to continue their careers after moving, Michelle Obama and Jill Biden, the vice president’s wife, announced on Saturday.
The achievement comes five years after the first lady and Biden urged the nation’s governors to streamline state licensing requirements for the military community as part of the Joining Forces initiative the two launched. At the time, just three states accepted licenses from other states, according to a White House fact sheet. By 2012, nearly half of all states had begun to address the barriers facing military spouses seeking employment.
On average, military spouses seek new employment every one to three years; 35 percent of military spouses work in an occupation that requires a professional license such as nursing or teaching.
States still need to do more to support military spouses, including offering expedited licenses, Obama said in an interview with Military Times included in the fact sheet.
“When it comes to spousal licensing, we still have a lot of work to do for teachers and educators, whose licenses and certifications are particularly complicated and specialized. Some states have already taken important steps, but we need to do even more to ensure that these folks can get back in a classroom after a move without facing so many costs and barriers,” she said.
The first lady and Jill Biden marked the fifth anniversary of their Joining Forces initiative by announcing that more than 1.2 million veterans and military spouses had been hired or trained.
“Our military is an all-volunteer force, and we need to show our young people that serving in the military allows you to have a great career, both in and out of uniform,” Obama said. “So we need even more employers to step up and hire our veterans, and we need companies to provide more flexible work environments so that military spouses who are moving every few years can keep moving up the career ladder.”