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Department of Defense Press Briefing Military Spouse Licensure

STAFF:  (Off mic.) going through it, but to not take up any more time I'll just run through the ground rules here.  So today we'll discuss spouse licensure and the Department's recent work on that topic.

Today's speakers include Ms. Virginia Penrod, Acting Assistant Secretary of Defense for Manpower and Reserve Affairs, and Mr. Marcus Beauregard, Director of the Defense State Liaison Office.

Please keep your questions within the scope of today's topic.  Attribution will be on the record.  We'll be recording the interview and you're welcome to do the same.  We have roughly 30 minutes for today's interview, but we're happy to follow-up with questions afterwards if you have anything that wasn't answered.  We'll begin with short remarks from Ms. Penrod and then open it up for questions and answers.

On the questions, please don't shout questions.  We'll call on reporters just to make sure everybody gets a chance to ask a question.

And with that, I will turn it over to Ms. Penrod.

ACTING ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF DEFENSE VIRGINIA PENROD:  Good morning, everyone.  It's Vee Penrod.  And we -- we have some good news this morning on what we're doing in the portfolio of support for our military families.

And so within the last few days, the Department delivered to Congress and to the state governors its report titled "Military Spouse Licensure:  State Best Practices and Strategies for Achieving Reciprocity," which covers license reciprocity for military spouses illustrated through state best practices and details the way ahead for states to achieve improvements.

Now, as many of you know, the Secretary has added a fourth line of effort to the National Defense Strategy, which is taking care of military families.  He's also identified spouse licensure portability as critical to supporting families and has made this one of his key focus areas.  As such, we will continue to work towards making licensure portability as seamless as possible.  I look forward to working with you on this important effort.

The Secretary has also brought this to the attention of governors and other state officials, requesting they consider improvements to the licensing practices.  The Secretary wants the Congress and supporting MSOs/VSOs to be aware of this initiative so they have an opportunity to add their voices of support.

So this morning I have with me Marcus Beauregard, who is my Director of the Department’s Defense State Liaison Office, and he will discuss the details of military spouse licensure and the continuing efforts of the Department of Defense to enhance portability among the states, which helps promote the well-being of our military families and, in turn, support our national strategy.

With that, Marcus, you want to take it over.

DEFENSE STATE LIAISON OFFICE DIRECTOR MARCUS BEAUREGARD:  Okay.  Would you like me to do some introductory comments?

STAFF:  Sure, please.

MR. BEAUREGARD:  Okay.  Good morning everyone.  My team with the Defense State Liaison Office is about 11 of us all together.  There's eight regional liaisons and then three of us in the headquarters.  And these eight regional liaisons work directly with state officials.  And it's through this function that we've been able to do a lot of our work with states to learn about their licensing processes and help them work on their licensing processes over several years.

The Department has been involved in this process since about 2011, and we worked diligently with states through until about 2016 in getting changes to their laws -- broad changes to their laws to include endorsement of current licenses so a spouse could get a license, temporary licensing, and expedited application processes.  And then in 2017, we had the University of Minnesota do a study on what actually occurred.  And we found that there was significantly mixed results.  There were lots of circumstances where boards may have interpreted the broad law differently than we had anticipated, and it really did not make it much easier for military spouses.  We also found that the implementation of those laws was not consistent throughout the states.

Then in 2018, the Military Department Secretaries wrote a letter, which many of you I think are aware of, that went to the National Governors Association saying that military spouse licensure and education would be considered as part of mission-basing in the future.  That got the attention of the states, and we saw a lot more activity happen in '18 and '19.

In September of 2019, the Secretary asked for a report on what is going on with states in terms of their best practices and how we could work even better with them to make the improvements that could really help military spouses.  So we collected up all the information as far as what we had seen in the past and put all those best practices on a continuum because lots of agencies and organizations have different understanding of what is reciprocity.  And so we try to give an operational understanding of reciprocity, and we put that as a central part of the report, sort of a red to green continuum and put the best practices that we had seen on this continuum.

We stated that reciprocity is pretty much by the dictionary definition.  It's if I accept yours, you will accept mine, and so we look for that as the process to represent reciprocity.  And in that -- from that standpoint, compacts probably -- and I think do provide the -- the measure of reciprocity that equals the -- the dictionary definition.  So we put compacts as -- as the green standard and then opportunities that really supported seamless portability along a continuum.  And at the red end, we basically made that no portability.

After establishing how these best practices look, and that's a good part of what's in the -- in the report detailing what does best practices look like, we then established, well, what do we do about this?  What's the way ahead?  And so we put it in terms of three lines of effort, three lines to take care of what we saw is perhaps immediately being able to be changed, people have the authority to get it done, near-term, something that may require a state to do some policy, and then what may be the long-term solution for this whole process.

So near-term, we said states should implement their policies to make them not only fully implemented, but make them well accessible to military spouses.  What we found in a lot of circumstances through our own research and through the research that was also done by the Department of Labor helping us on this particular part of the issue is that it may be implemented, but it is really difficult for a military spouse to find the appropriate form, find the appropriate location to put that form and get the guidance necessary to get through the licensing process as easily as possible.  So that is what we are categorizing as a near-term line of effort.  Midterm is for states to change their policy to make it to the extent possible that military spouses can have seamless portability.

And so to assist states, we also put a baseline so they'd understand, in this continuum, here's the -- the point, the threshold where we say that states are doing okay.  And so we said that if a military spouse can put in an application that has a minimum amount of documentation and get that license within 30 days, then that's a good process.  And that license could be a temporary license, understanding that the state may need to see more documentation to determine substantial equivalency or determine that the -- that the spouse can get that state license.  What we are anticipating is that states are going to pick up on the best practices that we've also included in that report that go beyond that, that go to some of the other state models that we've seen that I think are very progressive and very, very positive.

As far as a long-term solution to this, we like to see states approve compacts.  There's more and more occupation-specific compacts coming along, and the Department is assisting occupations in getting -- getting a compact if they see it in the best interest of their occupation.

And so we want to assist states as much as we can to approve these compacts.  We understand that this is a long-term solution because it's each compact by each state.  But we see very, very positive progress.  Probably the -- the most progressive is right now the Nurse Licensure Compact, which is approved in 34 states and being considered by about another 10 states in 2020.

As the last part of this report, the Secretary also wanted us to provide some sense -- some capability for the states to determine where are they on this -- on this continuum.  So we established criteria, and it's a stoplight criteria that's in the back of the report that provides essentially an evaluation of the state.  And we've done that evaluation.  We've provided each state their evaluation, and we've provided the Congress the overall look at the states so that they can get a comprehensive understanding of where the states are with regards to this issue.

And at this point, we've received lots of positive feedback from the -- the governors that they want to continue working with us as a result of the letter that we sent them.  We did lots of calls to our regional liaisons in terms of legislators wanting to continue to work this, and so we see this is -- this is the start of continued positive effort in this area.

STAFF:  Okay.  So thank you both for those remarks.  With that, let's go to some questions-and-answers.  Let's start with Caitlin Kenney of Stars and Stripes.

Q:  Hi, thank you.  My first very quick question is -- and I have a follow-up.  How many spouses need licensures for their work like on average with the percentage?

MR. BEAUREGARD:  It's 34 percent.

Q:  Okay.  And then for the states, can you say which states are -- are doing the best right now when it comes to compacts and reciprocity and which ones still really need improvement?

MR. BEAUREGARD:  That's a very tall order.  It's -- it's like trying to name your favorite children.  You know, it's --


-- I know we'd miss out on somebody, and I sure wouldn't want to see that in print.  But we -- we are seeing lots of progressive activity and lots of best practices, but I -- I -- I don't think I'll name names.

Q:  And why is that just so that spouses know that they're going to a state that they might have more difficulty?  That's kind of what I am -- or if they're -- if they're going to a state, they’re PCSing because PCS season is coming soon, what states that they should be kind of more concerned about in terms of trying to get these licenses?  That's why I'm trying to ask a question.

MR. BEAUREGARD:  Okay.  There are websites right now that can assist military spouses.  The Department of Labor has a website that their URL, and we've included that as a -- a connect to our Military OneSource website.  Also, our little office has a website.  It's called  And it provides an up-to-date record of what's changing in the states.

STAFF:  Great.  Let's move to Karen Jowers of Military Times.

Q:  I – I’m just wondering how much this varies.  Is it more from state-to-state or is it -- is it really a lot to do with the profession because of the different requirements in the profession? Or are there states that, with every single profession, they're doing better or -- you see what I'm saying?

MR. BEAUREGARD:  Yes, I think so.  Certainly, there are some -- some professions that have additional requirements that others do not.  But what we're seeing is that, generally speaking, a state will determine a -- a process and have all the occupations facilitate that particular process within that structure -- and it's an overall, very broad structure -- so they -- they may say you have to get a license in 30 days on full application.  That full application may require, in some instances, certified copies of all previous licenses, certified copy of a transcript of national test scores and the practicum hours that were taken.  So --

Q:  Okay.

MR. BEAUREGARD:  -- it's a determinant of the board based on what their requirements are, but the state basically outlines what is -- what's the -- the measure of success.

Q:  And one of the reasons I'm asking that is because you have their -- these what -- like 34 compacts or -- I forgot the number -- or different professions that cross state lines.  So that's one reason that I was wondering about that.  And you mentioned the nurses-related compact.

MR. BEAUREGARD:  Well, the unique thing about compacts is that they become an agreement between states.  It really is an interstate solution for an interstate problem so that the requirements that are specified in the compact take precedence over the state law regarding getting licensed in that state.  So an individual can go from a state where they have a license, and we'll call that the home state, that's what they generally call it in the compact.  They can go to any other compact state and have the privilege to practice in that state without any additional licensing.

Q:  And on that DOL website, are there -- is there information broken out by the compacts, which -- you know, which state has the compact for nurses?  Which state has -- you know, the -- the -- the states listed for each compact, is that available on that DOL website?

MR. BEAUREGARD:  I believe it is.  I believe --

Q:  Okay.

MR. BEAUREGARD:  -- that they've added that information along with a map that shows the specifics of each state in terms of their -- their -- their rules for licensing -- general rules for licensing.

Q:  Okay.

STAFF:  Great.  So I know we had a couple of folks join us as we were getting started.  Is there anybody out there who didn't have the opportunity to ask a question?

Q:  Dorothy Mills-Gregg with, if possible.

STAFF:  Hey, Dorothy.  Go ahead.

Q:  Yes.  My question -- my first question is on Page 7 of the report that Jessica sent out.  I believe it's the -- someone -- so the military services reported 20,493 total individuals bringing them out, obviously, 30 percent, received some C&L? assistance without attaining positive outcome.  I'm curious what exactly does that mean.  Does that mean that they tried to use some help and about 30 percent didn't receive that help?

MR. BEAUREGARD:  I am -- I'm somewhat embarrassed, I can't find where you're talking about.  My page 7 doesn't -- it starts -- at the top of the page says "Statement of the Problem."

Q:  Okay, maybe I'm looking at somehow a different report somehow.  Is there 14 pages of which report?

MR. BEAUREGARD:  No, this --

Q:  Okay.

MR. BEAUREGARD:  -- this is a 41-page report.

Q:  Okay.  I don't know how I linked to the wrong one then.

MR. BEAUREGARD:  A 40-page, excuse me.

Q:  Okay, 40-page.

STAFF:  Hey, Dorothy, we can --

Q:  Yeah.

STAFF:  -- we can take that for the record and follow-up by email if that works for you.

Q:  Certainly, yeah.  I had a problem with the URL when you first sent it.  For some reason it was copying the anchor in the hyperlink.

STAFF:  Yeah.

Q:  But then a -- a broader question if you still have a chance for me to ask.

STAFF:  Sure.

Q:  Okay.  Is -- you're mentioning a lot of help in encouraging states to change their policies.  I'm curious since kind of starting this endeavor what state in addition to like you mentioned the nurse compact are you seeing this change, as opposed to -- I'm looking for a little more specifics when it comes to states helping out.

MR. BEAUREGARD:  Oh, what kind of things are the states doing?

Q:  So I'm starting with initiative, what are some of the changes that you've seen.

MR. BEAUREGARD:  Well, I'll go through some of the -- the best practices that we've seen, some of the more progressive.  Arizona has developed something called "universal licensing."  It's an interesting process because what they did is they took something that had been exclusively for military spouses, made it better and then offered to everybody who becomes a resident at the state of Arizona.

So basically, what it does is it says that an individual comes in with a current license.  The state will accept that license as long as it's current and in good standing.  The individual gets a background check and pays the appropriate fees, and then they can get a license from Arizona.

Utah has even a more progressive approach.  Utah, since 2012, has allowed military spouses to come into the state and work on their license from another state without getting a Utah license.

Florida has a similar system to Arizona, but just for military spouses where they can come in with a current license that is in good standing, get a background check, pay the fee, go to work.

Texas has done a very different approach.  Texas has developed an understanding of the substantial equivalency of all other states for that -- for a specific occupation, for all their occupations but specific by occupation.  So that when a military spouse comes in and they're coming from New Mexico or Nebraska, then the Texas board will know if the New Mexico or the Nebraska license is equivalent to the Texas license and will, at that point, give them a license.  So it takes out all that paperwork and all the -- the hassle and they get it to them quickly.

And so we're -- we're seeing these and that -- that's just three examples, but there's lots of -- Ohio -- Ohio just recently, I need to bring up Ohio.  Ohio took a temporary license provision and said that it's good for six years.  And what that does again is it takes the approach of saying whatever your current license is, that's good for Ohio.  But we're saying -- but they're saying is that you're not going to get necessarily a full Ohio license.  You're going to get a temporary license in Ohio, but it's good for six years.

STAFF:  Great.  So I think we have time for one more question.  Is there one last one out there?

Q:  Yeah, this is David, DOD News.  Does this compact or initiative cover every single license that's out there?  For example, real estate licenses, you have to get a different one from each state.  And does it also cover certificates?  A lot of times you're required not only to have a license but a certificate in a particular profession.  Thank you.

MR. BEAUREGARD:  From my understanding, certificates are generally provided not by the state but by some outside entity, generally, national in its position.  And so states depend on these certificates as you say.  But what we're seeing is a movement and most occupations to go to some kind of national level certification, which makes it less complicated when you're going from state-to-state.

The Emergency Medical Services Compact, basically, has made it much easier for all practitioners by saying that the only requirements you need to have is a current license and the fact that you passed the national registry test and a background check.  So as long as you have those, then you can get relicensed in other states, so it's made it far less complicated.

Q:  And the other part of the question I had was does it cover every license that's out there, for example, real estate?

MR. BEAUREGARD:  Compacts are by occupation.  So right now, we were -- we have compacts that states are approving in -- for nurses, physical therapists, psychologists, EMTs and audiology, speech pathologists, but there are more compacts underway.

Occupational therapists --

Q:  Can I ask one question?

MR. BEAUREGARD:  Go ahead.

Q:  Have you -- have you ever quantified a number of different professions out there that require licenses that military spouses have been involved in?

MR. BEAUREGARD:  Well, it -- it really varies by state in terms of the number --

Q:  Okay.

MR. BEAUREGARD:  -- of licensed occupations.  But with regards to military spouses, we have – what understanding we have about the licensing of military spouses comes from the surveys that the Department does of active-duty military spouses.  And the level of granularity we can get to is whether they're in health-related occupations, education, trades and crafts, or other licensed occupations.

STAFF:  Great.  So --

Q:  Have you ever been --

STAFF:  Oh, sorry.  Go ahead.

Q:  Any -- any quantification, any numbers of different ones that you have identified through the survey?

MR. BEAUREGARD:  Well, we know that a licensed occupations -- let me run through the numbers in my head -- 53 percent are in health-related occupations, 28 percent are in education.  That -- that should add up to what, 81.  So there's about 19 percent left.  I think there's four percent in crafts and trades, and 15 percent in other.

As far as the numbers of people, the numbers of licenses, it varies by state.  North Carolina has 200 separate licensed occupations.

STAFF:  All right.  So I just wanted to end and give Ms. Penrod or Mr. Beauregard a chance to make any closing comments.  Anything?

MS. PENROD:  Sure, why not.  So you might not have had a chance to receive the memo, but I just wanted to let you know that the Secretary of Defense did sign out on Friday, February 21st, a policy change concerning priorities for DOD childcare programs, which will be effective June 1, 2020.

And what's important about this is that, well, first of all, I believe all of you understand that our system child care was established to assist military members because they face unique challenges socially with (inaudible) and military service and frequent moves.  But over time, we have expanded access to care -- to care to serve the total force.  And some areas we may have lost sight of our military member, and what this does is level-set that the military member priority is first and foremost.  And basically the change is it puts the priority and includes military spouses seeking employment and/or that enrolled in school.  So that's really what the policy does is that just elevates the military spouse up into priority one and before where they might have been in like a priority two and/or three.

STAFF:  And so if there are any questions on that child care memo, we would be happy to answer them.  If you just want to send me an email after this call, we can get back to you and my colleague Bruce Moody, I think most of you know.  He and I can work to get your answers on that, as well as any unanswered questions you have on licensure at this point.

But we are up on time today, so I want to thank Ms. Penrod and Mr. Beauregard for their time, and thank you all for joining us.  As we mentioned, reach out to us with any other questions, and I hope you have a great day.