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Frequent relocation is as much a part of military life as combat boots and uniforms. But transferring every three or four years to a new duty station doesn’t just impact a military member. It affects the entire family. Military spouses and children also are uprooted every time a sailor, airman, soldier or Marine receives permanent change of station (PCS) orders to another state or a new country.

For many military spouses, the biggest challenge of frequent moves is finding a new job where their skills and experience will not be wasted. It especially is difficult for those who hold certifications and licenses. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, more than 34% of all military spouses work in jobs that require an occupational or professional license.

Today, when a military spouse transfers to the commonwealth, the current process requires licensing boards to determine within 20 days if an out-of-state license is equivalent to Virginia’s. If it is, the state will issue the individual an automatic one-year temporary license. That is why we were glad Gov. Ralph Northam signed legislation on Thursday expediting the occupational and professional licensure process for military spouses.

“As an Army veteran and as a Virginian, I am committed to ensuring the commonwealth continues to provide an environment where our veterans and military families can thrive,” said Northam in a statement. “Complex rules about license equivalence and the portability of certifications too often result in the unemployment or underemployment of military spouses. This legislation will enable the spouses of the men and women who serve our country to maintain their professional licenses and continue their careers in Virginia with a streamlined and simple process.”

We were pleased to see that the bill also gives licensing boards greater authority to determine equivalent certifications and grant temporary licenses to spouses of transitioning service members. For military families who decide the time has come to re-enter the civilian world, Virginia will be a more tempting permanent location if the spouse knows she or he can quickly find a job putting hard-earned skills to use. This is a win-win for veterans and for Virginia.

Robin Beres

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