States Continue Support for Military Spouse Employment

Between frequent relocations, maintaining the household during a service member’s deployment, and providing strength and support to the entire family, military spouses make sacrifices every day. Their service to this country is invaluable and such an important part of the success of our military.

But military spouses should not have to sacrifice their career dreams or the financial stability of their families because of the military lifestyle. Military spouses deserve an equal opportunity to pursue their career goals and should not be sidelined by the financial or administrative burdens of applying for a new license every time they move across state lines. The National Military Family Association has worked in partnership with the Department of Defense (DoD) State Liaison Office to address this issue to ensure military spouses can pursue their careers regardless of the number of times they have to relocate. 

On June 26, First Lady Michelle Obama joined Illinois Governor Pat Quinn in Chicago to participate in a bill signing ceremony on military spouse licensure. Presently, 23 states support military spouse licensing. The bill, like those in other states, is designed to remove licensing barriers for relocating military spouses. Illinois was the 21st state to enact supportive spouse legislation, which nearly doubles the number of states that have agreed to tackle this issue in just the last few months!

Many occupations—from teachers and nurses, to health care workers and counselors—require a state license, but states often have specific conditions and processes, making it difficult to transfer licenses from one state to another. This can consume valuable time and impose significant administrative and financial burdens on our military spouses as they move across state lines, and many spouses get burnt out just attempting to pursue the jobs they are qualified to do!

Many state governments have agreed to remove barriers and make the licensure process quicker for military spouses by adopting the best practices detailed in the report “Supporting Our Military Families: Best Practices for Streamlining Occupational Licensing Across State Lines.” The report provides easy, low to no-cost solutions to state governments, such as offering licensure through the endorsement of a current license, providing a temporary or provisional license to allow military spouses to begin work immediately, and expediting the application processes. Additionally, military spouse attorneys are not covered by the state legislation. However, the Military Spouse JD Network is working to make attorney license more portable for military spouses.

If you want detailed information on which states have signed on to support military spouses and how you take advantage of that support, go to MilitaryHOMEFRONT. Please take time to review the state specific information. The legislation is not the same in each state. For example, some states limit the portability to occupations in the health care profession. Other states exclude teachers.

Our Association would like to thank the State Legislators and Governors who have passed this very important legislation. We applaud the efforts of the DoD State Liaison office and we will continue to promote career portability for military spouses.

Have you benefited from state legislation? Share your experience by emailing us at

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