First Lady and Dr. Biden Urge Action from State Governors on Military Spouse Hiring

First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden at the 2012 NGA meeting (February 27, 2012)

First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden discuss military spouse employment at the National Governors Association annual meeting in the State Dining Room of the White House, Feb. 27, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)

Earlier this morning, the First Lady and Dr. Jill Biden addressed the National Governors Association (NGA) Winter Meeting, the annual meeting that brings state leaders to Washington, D.C. to discuss important issues impacting all Americans.

Today, the First Lady and Dr Biden had one message for the governors: urging them to take action on the state level to support America’s military spouses. 

In their travels to military bases across America and throughout the world over the last three years, the First Lady and Dr. Biden have heard stories from countless military family members and spouses.  One of the top issues they hear about everywhere they go deals with the professional licensing requirements that affect how military spouses can move forward in their careers. 

Less than two weeks ago, the First Lady and Dr. Biden joined the Secretary of Defense, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and all of the Joint Chiefs in rolling out a new report on state licensing.   

This is an enormous issue for military spouses throughout this country. There are more than 100,000 military spouses who serve in the dozens of professions that require a state license or credential – teachers, nurses, childcare providers, dental hygienists, real estate brokers, speech pathologists and many other professionals. Each move to a new state can mean different credentialing or licensing standards – a process that can sometimes take months to resolve.  

As part of their address to military families and Pentagon leadership, the First Lady and Dr. Biden announced an ambitious goal: for 50 states to pass legislation that supports military spouse license portability by 2014. 

To date, 12 states have passed legislation supporting spouse license portability. More states are lining up  – in just the last two weeks – Kansas passed legislation supporting spouse licensing on Valentine’s Day – and California (the state with the largest military spouse population), Wyoming, Louisiana and Illinois have introduced legislation that supports military spouse licensing. 

Today’s discussion with state leaders and their spouses builds on this momentum.  

State licensing for military spouses is a critical issue and an enormous priority for the First Lady, Dr. Biden and the entire Administration. Solving this problem is a way for our country to rally around these military families who have given us so much – and together, we hope to serve them as well as they have served us. 

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