Spouses of those currently serving in the armed forces make numerous sacrifices to support their partners and families. Too often, and unnecessarily, their careers become casualties in the process. What better time to address this issue head on than now, during Military Appreciation Month?
According to a recent study on military spouses in the workplace by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s Hiring Our Heroes initiative, moves between duty stations — known as permanent changes of stations (PCS) — play havoc on military spouse careers. In fact, 67 percent of military spouses say they had to quit a job because of a move. And 41 percent of these unemployed spouses needed more than four months to find a new one.
Adding more complexity, 35 percent of military spouses work in a field that requires licensing (like real estate professionals, engineers, accountants and hairdressers) according to the Institute for Veterans and Military Families at Syracuse University. Of the 78 percent of spouses who reported experiencing a military move, only 11% of them say they acquired a new license after the move.
Supporters say the changes could blunt the effects of frequent moves on spouses' employment challenges.
The Portable Certification of Spouses (PCS) Act of 2019, bipartisan legislation recently introduced by Sens. Tom Cotton, R-Ark.,, Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., and Martha McSally, R-Ariz., and Reps. Susan Davis, D-Calif., and Jim Banks, R-Ind., would go a long way to helping directly address this challenge. It would allow the Department of Defense to support interstate occupational licensing compacts and eases the small business registration process for relocating military spouses.
The state of Arizona recently acted to help military spouses by enacting occupational licensing reciprocity legislation that improves spouses’ ability to transfer their professional licenses from other states and continue their careers in Arizona.
Considering that military families move 10 times more frequently than civilian families, the case for action is crystal clear. Military spouses in licensed professions need not sacrifice their careers just because their spouse received a permanent change of station.
Service officials launched a new effort Monday to consider rule changes to help more spouses stationed overseas work from home or land new jobs.
As anyone who served in the military knows firsthand, spouse employment drives the financial readiness of the military family, which in turn leads to overall military readiness.
Legislation like the Portable Certification of Spouses and that in Arizona are the right things to do for military spouses and families. They help increase the likelihood that companies like USAA and many others can recruit, hire and retain talented individuals who just happen to be married to active duty members of the military. And, they provide some financial continuity for military families who move frequently and, sometimes, without much notice.
We are proud to support such impactful public policy for the military community.
Mr. Parker is chief executive officer of USAA and a U.S. Air Force veteran.
Editor’s note: This is an Op-Ed and as such, the opinions expressed are those of the author. If you would like to respond, or have an editorial of your own you would like to submit, please contact Military Times managing editor Howard Altman, firstname.lastname@example.org.