ICYMI: Military Spouses Are the First Casualties of Licensing Red Tape as They Stop Practicing the Professions Society Desperately Needs

KEY QUOTE: “States should consider following the example of Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly, an early leader on the issue who signed a state bill in 2021 that expedites occupational licenses for military spouses.” 

Military spouses are the first casualties of licensing red tape as they stop practicing the professions that society desperately needs 
Kathy Roth-Douquet, Fortune
June 14, 2023

  • A federal law, which passed with bipartisan support in Congress earlier this year, will provide some relief by requiring state licensing authorities to recognize a professional license from another state when a spouse moves on military orders. This is a giant leap forward for military families who have been clamoring for reform–but thousands of military spouses could still be excluded from the labor force if states don’t cut out the red tape.

  • Military spouses experience unemployment up to six times the national unemployment average. One in five active-duty spouses is unemployed. According to Blue Star Families’ 2021 Military Family Lifestyle Survey, two-thirds of active-duty spouse respondents who are employed report they are underemployed.

  • The Department of Defense and many states have tried to find solutions to this problem, including creating interstate compacts that allow spouses to practice in their new home state without obtaining a new license. 

  • It is imperative that governors and other state officials finish the last mile of work to help create sustainable family incomes, while also serving as a magnet for their state’s economy, especially during this time of labor shortages, states competing for talent, and a massive military recruitment shortage.