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Supporting military families: IVMF issues response on report by departments of Treasury and Defense

February 20, 2012

Jaime Winne Alvarez
(315) 443-0177

The Institute for Veterans and Military Families at Syracuse University issues the following statement in response to a recent report issued jointly by the departments of the Treasury and Defense:

"Late last week, as part of an ongoing initiative of the current administration to improve the well-being of military families, the departments of the Treasury and Defense released a co-authored report, “Supporting our Military Families: Best Practices for Streamlining Occupational Licensing Across State Lines,” highlighting the impact of state occupational licensing requirements on the careers of military spouses. In addition to examining the impact of these state licensing requirements on military spouses, the report also identifies best practices for both states and licensing bodies to adopt that would ease the burden on military spouses.

"With 35 percent of military spouses working in an occupation that requires state licensure, there is a need to reduce barriers to these spouses when moving across state lines. In fact, in a study by the Defense Manpower Data Center surveying military spouses on practices that would have helped their last move, 40 percent indicated that easier state-to-state transfer of certification would have best helped them. Considering that military families are 10 times more likely to move across state lines than their civilian counterparts, it’s no surprise that this issue is of such concern.

"Because each state has its own licensing requirements, intended to ensure that the practitioner meets a minimum level of competency, the report describes only those practices that both support military families and maintain professional standards and public safety.

"These practices include the following:

  • facilitating endorsement of a current license from another jurisdiction as long as the requirements for licensure in that jurisdiction are substantially equivalent to those in the licensing state;
  • providing a temporary or provisional license allowing the military spouse to practice while fulfilling requirements needed to qualify for endorsement in the licensing state, or awaiting verification of documentation supporting an endorsement; and
  • expediting application procedures so that the director overseeing licensing within the state has authority to approve license applications for the boards, and that the individual licensing boards have authority to approve a license based simply on an affidavit from the applicant.

"Although more work remains to be done, these practices provide a solid baseline on which to build. The Institute for Veterans and Military Families (IVMF) at Syracuse University hopes to see the DoD continue to work on such issues affecting military spouses and families.

"Further, while the report focused on opportunities for state lawmakers to mitigate burdens associated with state-to-state transfers for military spouses, the IVMF would suggest that the report also highlight an opportunity for private sector intervention in support of the employment situation of military family members. Specifically, private sector employers of military spouses should consider programs, such as telecommuting and priority job transfer initiatives, for military spouses required to relocate due to the transfer of a military family member.

"A leading example of such an initiative is illustrated by Walmart, a firm that last year adopted a program to guarantee jobs for military spouses employed by the company when that spouse’s family is transferred to a new geographic location as a result of military orders. While admittedly Walmart is in a unique position to pursue such an initiative as a result of the firm’s size and reach, telecommuting and other similar programs represent an opportunity for most private-sector firms to keep talented and experienced military spouses in the organization—an attractive alternative to recruiting, training and socializing new employees to replace military spouses lost because of transfer.

"We highlight such initiatives to illustrate the importance of not only creating new employment opportunities for military spouses (the focus of the report), but also the important role that the private sector can assume in regard to protecting the jobs of military spouses already in the workforce."

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