OPINION: Senators' wives ask SD Legislature to aid military spousesOne of the greatest challenges that a military spouse continually faces is continuity of employment, due to frequent transfers from state to state.
By: Barbara Johnson and Kimberley Thune, Guest columnists
We would like to share an opportunity that is available to South Dakota to salute our military spouses and to show our appreciation for all their hard work supporting the well-being and safety of our nation.
One of the greatest challenges that a military spouse continually faces is continuity of employment, due to frequent transfers from state to state.
Not only does a spouse’s employment play a key role in the financial and personal well-being of military families, their job satisfaction is an important component of the retention of service members.
After hearing from spouses at Ellsworth Air Force Base, we were convinced that an important issue for them is the constant need to obtain a license or certification for their career as they move across state lines.
This situation was confirmed by a recent study by the Department of Defense (DOD) that found nearly 35 percent of military spouses in the labor force were in careers that require a license or certification.
We agree that licensing and certification requirements serve an important function in protecting the public by ensuring levels of competency in a profession.
We all want our nurses, social workers and teachers to be qualified, caring practitioners.
However, since each state sets its own standards, the resulting patchwork of requirements is daunting for the highly mobile military spouse who is 10 times more likely to move across state lines in a year as their civilian counterparts.
One approach that could be taken by the South Dakota Legislature, state government, licensing boards and professional associations would be to adopt practices recommended by the DOD that would allow for more flexibility for military spouses to obtain the necessary certification when moving to our state.
“Licensure by endorsement” is a process that significantly eases burdens on military spouses seeking to maintain a career.
This is simply a streamlined process for the application and state verification process for military spouses with active out-of-state licenses that helps spouses to obtain work quickly when moving to South Dakota.
As of June 2011, 11 states had adopted some form of military spouse license portability and nine additional states were actively considering legislation.
For additional information or to contact the DOD-State Liaison Office, visit www.usa4militaryfamilies.org
Adopting military spouse license portability for our state would be a great way to say thank you for their sacrifices.
Barbara Johnson is the wife of U.S. Sen. Tim Johnson, D-S.D., and Kimberley Thune is the wife of U.S. Sen. John Thune, R-S.D.