Story by A1C Michael Murphy on 04/02/2019Col. Andrew Purath, 11th Wing and Joint Base Andrews commander, and Chief Master Sgt. Thomas Daniels, 11th Wing and Joint Base Andrews command chief, spoke to the Maryland House Economic Matters Committee on State Bill 852 in Annapolis, Md., March 26.
Part of the bill's intent is to improve military spouses' reciprocity in state licensure by reducing the time frame of when an applicant may receive a temporary license.
State Bill 852 requires units that receive completed certification applications from military spouses to approve or disapprove the issuing of a temporary license within 60 days.
The Air Force estimates that 35 percent of spouses require occupational licensing for employment, half of which are career fields in demand such as healthcare and education. Unfortunately, those spouses must obtain a new license every time they move out of state, often causing a delay in income for the family and a longer transition between jobs.
State Bill 852 aims to decrease the time families are in the transition period.
"Any effort to make the occupational licensing process easier is a welcome step," Purath said. "For many of our military families, finding employment for spouses is second only to finding housing on their to-do list. Should the bill become law, we are hopeful the overall effect would be a less confusing process and allow for more timely employment opportunities, especially for our active-duty military spouses."
According to Tierra Fincher, Military and Family Support Center community readiness consultant, employment of military spouses would not only benefit the family, but also the community that the family joins.
Fincher said an improvement in the process could be "the driving force to retain service members in the military, allow spouses to maintain their license or certification for employment within their chosen field, and stabilize the family unit while serving at their current duty station," said Fincher. "It will also help our economy by creating new jobs and establishing new businesses."
Under the proposed legislation, completed applications will simply include proof of a valid license issued from another state and proof of status as a veteran or military spouse. After that, they would need to pass a background check. In his remarks to the committee, Purath estimated that as many as 1,000 spouses in the National Capital Region would meet those criteria and be ready to work under a temporary license.
"The importance of this to me as a commander cannot be overstated," said Purath. "When our families decide whether to continue serving or separate, the career goals of a spouse can be the deciding factor. Our Armed Forces recruit citizens into service, but we retain families."