First Lady, Panetta to Unveil Spouse Employment Report
By Elaine Sanchez
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Feb. 13, 2012 Alongside some of the nation’s top officials, First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden, wife of Vice President Joe Biden, will unveil an employment report this week intended to ease military spouses’ ongoing issues with occupational licenses, White House officials announced today.
Joined by Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta, Deputy Treasury Secretary Neal Wolin and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, the first lady and Biden will release the report, titled “Supporting Our Military Families: Best Practices for Streamlining Occupational Licensing Across State Lines,” at the Pentagon on Feb. 15.
The report outlines opportunities and best practices for states to better support military spouses serving in professions with state licensure requirements, according to a White House news release.
The report notes that military spouses move from state to state far more often than the general population as they accompany their service member to assignments across the nation and world, the release said.
These frequent moves can create difficulties for military spouses seeking to maintain their careers. Spouses serving in professions that require state licenses or certification bear disproportionately high financial and administrative burdens since credentials from one state don’t always transfer to another state, the report explains.
This burden negatively affects employment for more than 100,000 military spouses, the report notes.
Among the nearly 50 professions that state licensure requirements affect are teachers, nurses, speech pathologists, dental hygienists, physical therapists, counselors, marriage and family therapists, occupational therapists, social workers, physician assistants, emergency medical technicians and dieticians, the release said, noting that 11 of 50 states have enacted legislation that supports portability for military spouses with occupational licenses.
Nearly half of military members are married, the release noted. Military spouses have indicated their employment plays a key role in their financial and personal well-being, and is a factor in their family’s decision to stay in the military.
This report is the direct result of President Barack Obama’s Presidential Study Directive, released in January 2011, which called on all sectors of the government to find new ways to provide military families with the support they need and deserve.
The directive spurred federal agencies to make nearly 50 military-support commitments, ranging from child care to health care to spouse employment.
As he unveiled this governmentwide approach, the president reiterated the nation’s commitment to its troops and their families.
“I want every service member who’s deployed to know that when you’re over there taking care of the country that you love, your country is back here taking care of the families that you love,” he said from the White House.
“I want every military wife and husband to know that we’re going to help you keep your family strong and secure,” he added. “I want every single American to remember that as the beneficiaries of their service, each of us has an obligation -- a sacred duty -- to care for those who have “borne the battle.”