Commentary

Congress needs to pass the Military Spouse Licensing Relief Act

It is no secret, our men and women in uniform make countless sacrifices on behalf of our great nation every day. Behind every dedicated service member is their family that also selflessly serves this nation in their own way. Parents and grandparents, aunts and uncles, siblings, children, and last but not least, spouses. While it is imperative we work to ensure that our service members receive the support they deserve, we must also ensure that their family is supported.

As a former U.S. Navy fighter pilot, I know all too well the burden that military families carry , especially during deployment or when a service member is given new orders and must relocate. Often when service members are asked to relocate on military orders, it is to a new state.

Many military spouses have their own careers, oftentimes careers that involve maintaining a professional license such as a hairdresser, dentist, or nurse. Professional licenses are given through each state, meaning that when you move from one state to another, you are required to apply for a new professional license. This added burden can hinder a military spouse’s employment status when forced to relocate on military orders. While serving in the military, I have seen many military families face this added roadblock to an already challenging time.

To combat this problem, I recently introduced in the House, alongside Rep. Salud Carbajal, D-Calif., the bipartisan Military Spouse Licensing Relief Act of 2021. A companion piece of legislation was also introduced in the Senate by Sens. Mike Lee, R-Utah, and Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif. The bill would give military spouses with valid professional licenses in one state reciprocity in another where their spouse is stationed on military orders. That means that if you are a licensed professional in one state, and your spouse is given new military orders to move to a new state, you do not have to go through the time, hassle, or financial stress of obtaining a new professional license.

In the United States, each state has its own regulations for each professional license. Not only is acquiring a new license a timely, burdensome process, but it can cost thousands of dollars to obtain. This legislation would remove this unfair employment barrier and improve job security and stability for military families. Military families have enough to worry about, they don’t need one more thing.

The legislation would require that licenses that receive reciprocity are in good standing. Military spouses must also abide by the new state’s rules and regulations regarding standards of practice. This bill would ensure that we ease the burden of military spouses with professional licenses without hindering the standards of practice from state to state.

Our men and women in uniform and their family members deserve all the support they can get. Congress needs to pass the Military Spouse Licensing Relief Act and do right by our military families.

Rep. Mike Garcia represents California’s 25th Congressional District.

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, haltman@militarytimes.com.

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