As part of the Second Lady’s military spouse awareness campaign, Karen Pence champions occupational licensing reform and recognizes it as a key action to address military spouse employment challenges. Today, approximately one third of military spouses work in fields that require a state-issued professional license or certification in order to practice their professions. Additionally, military spouses move on average every two to three years and those frequent moves and state licensing change requirements have led to significant expenses, lost wages, and gaps in employment.

Today, Mrs. Pence continues to collaborate with government, private, and non-profit organizations to create employment solutions for our nation’s military spouses.

Below is a look at some of the occupational licensing reform accomplishments made under the Trump Administration:

ENCOURAGING GOVERNORS, STATE, AND MILITARY LEADERS to address licensing reform and reduce barriers to employment for military spouses.

  • During the 2018, 2019, and 2020 National Governor’s Association (NGA) Winter Meetings, Second Lady Karen Pence spoke to governors and their spouses about addressing licensing reform in their states.
  • President Trump held a meeting at the White House in June 2019 with eight governors, including Governor Doug Ducey, to discuss occupational licensing reform.
  • The three military service secretaries signed a letter sent to the NGA in February 2018 encouraging the relaxation or elimination of license-related barriers to work faced by military spouses.
  • In September, Mrs. Pence participated in a roundtable discussion with Governor Doug Ducey, military spouses, and military service organization representatives to discuss Arizona’s military spouse licensing progress. Arizona is the first in the country to offer a universal licensing recognition law which recognizes out-of-state occupational licenses.
  • Mrs. Pence convened a meeting with the three Military Service Secretaries and Coast Guard leadership at the White house in June. Mrs. Pence encouraged the services to prioritize programs for military spouses and fully implement existing policies designed for military spouses, especially as it relates to licensing reforms.
SUPPORTING RESEARCH on licensing reform solutions and reports.
  • In May 2018, the White House Council of Economic Advisors released the report “Military Spouses in the Labor Market.” The report detailed ways to address military spouse employment solutions and how military spouses are disproportionately affected by occupational licensing requirements.
  • In August 2018, Second Lady Karen Pence visited the University of Minnesota to learn about the Military Spouse Licensure Portability Examination report. The report is based on a study that examined what real changes have occurred on a state-by-state level from the Department of Defense’s (DoD) efforts to address licensing reform. The report also detailed recommendations to improve licensure portability for military spouses.
  • Secretary Mark Esper and the DoD delivered a military spouse licensing report to Congress and Governors in February 2020. The report covered license recognition issues for military spouses; described metrics to assess state licensing climate and state best practices; and provided recommendations for improvement.
  • In March, the Second Lady and Hiring our Heroes released “A Collective Effort for Military Spouses: Workforce Development Solutions for the 21st Century Military Spouse” that detailed steps for addressing licensing reform.
CREATING POLICIES AND PROGRAMS that support military spouse licensing reform on a national level.
  • President Trump signed the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2019 (NDAA FY19) into law. The NDAA required DoD to train installation career counselors employed at military installations to ensure military spouses have the latest information about occupational license laws, including if financial assistance is available to cover recertification costs.
  • In June 2018, the Department of Labor unveiled a Military Spouse License Recognition website. The website provides military spouses with a user-friendly site where they can find information about all licensing recognition policies in place as well as information about compacts, reimbursement, and contact information for each regulatory agency.
  • In 2019, service branches implemented reimbursement programs (up to $500) for relicensing/recertification costs faced by military spouses.
  • Mrs. Pence hosted two business summits with private and public sector and organization leaders at the White House to work on military spouse employment solutions. Occupational licensing was one focus of the conversations as different leaders collaborated on ways to address the licensing barriers and costs.
    • 46 businesses and organizations joined the first summit held in May of 2019.
    • 57 businesses and organizations attended the second summit held in November of 2019.
  • The National Defense Authorization Act of 2020 (NDAA FY20) President Trump signed included increasing the existing relicensing reimbursement amount from $500 to $1,000 for active  duty spouses who relocate due to a permanent change of station (PCS) order. The Act also required DoD to coordinate with the Council of State Governments to assist with funding of the development of interstate compacts on licensed occupations. The Act also enables eligible spouses to continue participating in the My Career Advancement Program that provides education and training for a degree, license, or credential regardless of the promotion of service members.
  • The Air Force announced a new policy in February 2020 stating that they will consider state licensing laws when making a decision for a future base’s location, such as the location of Space Force. This will help determine if the location is ready to welcome and employ military families.
  • President Trump issued an Executive Order (EO) titled, “Enhancing Noncompetitive Civil Service Appointments of Military Spouses” in May 2018. The EO directed federal agencies to promote the hiring of military spouses and to collect and report military spouse employment data to the Office of Personnel Management (OPM).