SecDef enlists governors’ help on military spouse employment issue

SecDef enlists governors’ help on military spouse employment issue

Secretary of Defense Mark Esper has asked for Council of Governors’ help in easing the burden of thousands of military spouses when they’re trying to transfer occupational licenses from state to state.

The Council’s agenda supports the National Defense Strategy’s three lines of effort, Esper noted: building a more lethal force, strengthening our alliances and partnerships, and reforming the department for greater performance and affordability. And he’d like the governors to expand their support in other ways, he wrote in a Sept. 18 letter.

“I have added a fourth line of effort as a personal challenge – taking care of service members and their families,” Esper wrote. He asked for assistance in supporting them as much as possible, especially on issues that are the primary responsibility of states, such as license portability for military spouses.

About 34 percent of the roughly 300,000 (a Military Times estimate) military spouses in the work force are employed in fields that require a license or certification, according to the Department of LaborThese occupations range from cosmetologists, to teachers, to attorneys and nurses. Spouses often face burdensome and expensive requirements when they move to a new state, because of different local and state licensing regulations. A number of states have taken steps to ease the process in some occupations, such as allowing temporary licensing, and expediting the application processes — helping spouses get into jobs more quickly.

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