Military veterans and their family members may soon find it a lot easier to move to Michigan and begin working. The Michigan Senate passed legislation last month recognizing the licenses of veterans and their families.
Picture this scenario: every three years, the wife of a firefighter for the Navy and her family uproot their lives to move to the next station. This time, the next assignment is in Michigan. Shortly after moving to Michigan, she is told her teaching license isn’t accepted in the state as she encounters different state licensing regulations. As parents with now only one source of income, times get tough. To financially assist her husband, she gets a job as a cashier at the local store. The degree she spent years obtaining and paying for is suddenly useless. Sadly, this is the harsh reality for my family and many other military families as they move between the many states that lack universal recognition laws.
Professional licenses are obtained through the passage of an exams, proper fee payments, hours of experience, education, and even additional requirements such as good moral character. In addition to these expenditures, the individual may be forced to study for further examinations and complete additional rigorous training in order to obtain licensure in another state. This seems like an unnecessary burden, especially in times when they have no choice but to uproot their lives and move to be with their family.
Being a military spouse can be stressful enough and adding strenuous occupational licensing laws doesn’t help. Military families move roughly every 2 to 3 years. If more states create universal recognition laws for military spouses, it can reduce employment barriers, enhance carrier opportunities, and lessen the financial load for military families.
Michigan ranks 33rd with the most burdensome licensing laws in 2017. SB 1123 is an important step towards reducing this burden. Additionally, recognizing military spousal licenses gets more Americans in the workforce at a quicker rate, stimulating the state’s economy.
In Virginia, their Military, Medics, and Corpsmen Program allows military personnel to apply their military experience to help them obtain a license. This program in Virginia should serve as a model for all other states including Michigan. As a spouse, it should be no different. The licenses that they have spent years obtaining should just easily be accepted as the responsibilities do not necessarily change. A teacher in the state of Michigan executes the same duties and tasks as a teacher in Ohio; they prepare lesson plans, educate students, assign homework, grade tests, etc.
This pressing issue has continuously caused a loss of income for a lot of families. Some spouses are forced to opt to not work, resulting in several able-bodied professionals unable to work and fully contribute to the economy. Making a shift in careers has ultimately become the more feasible option to find some sense of financial stability. The lack of universal recognition laws restricts job opportunities and strips many spouses of their career ambitions. Having experienced this firsthand, it is clear that common sense needs to prevail and licenses should be recognized across state lines.
Morgan George is a sophomore at Saint Francis University. Morgan is an undergraduate research fellow for the Knee Center for the Study of Occupational Regulation.