Labor Day, to some, signals the official end of summer. However it was originally celebrated to recognize the economic and social contributions of the American workforce. Unfortunately, being a member of the workforce is not as easy for military spouses.
Since the semi-controversial article listing "12 Great Jobs for Military Spouses" was released this summer, people have been upset about the implied simplicity of the jobs they listed and the general difficulties military spouses face when searching for a job. The article did not upset me, I personally think there is a good job fit for every individual (and thank goodness - I cannot imagine removing a giant wasp nest from my backyard! *shout out to my exterminator). I could never be an accountant, tax preparer, electrician or math teacher; these job requires skills I lack. I am so thankful that there are people out there who do those jobs (any many others), because it would be a sad state of affairs if I was put in charge of teaching ANYONE algebra!
What do you do when you know your perfect occupation or job and moving with your active duty spouse hinders you from continuing your chosen occupation? How can we raise awareness about the actual struggles military spouses are facing now, when they have worked very hard to earn processional certifications and licenses, to then find out they cannot practice in their new state!? Here are some comments I have received from friends facing some of these issues:
Natalie, Civil Engineer: "I have an engineering license and it's no easier to transfer from state to state. Additionally I pay about $1000 every 2 years for continuing education to keep my Illinois license current."
Alyson, Real Estate Agent: "I worked with a military spouse who had her real estate license in Virginia and had to PCS to Lemoore. California Dept. of Real Estate doesn't recognize the Virginia license. She had to take some classes and do the state exam in CA even though she had been a Realtor for several years."
Lori, Communications Director for MSJDN (a group advocating for licensing issues for military spouse attorneys): "The bar exams every 2 years really kill people. They just aren't choosing law. It's great that we are getting the attention to this cause. Milspouses need careers, not jobs at tatoo parlors."
Melissa, Registered Nurse: "I think my best advice for spouses would be once they know where they are going, start looking ASAP (as in that week you find out) into jobs and licensing requirements. For a nursing license, you only have to take the RN test once. You need to have a license in the state that you work in, though. For California, they had special requirements such as finger prints and a passport-sized photo id. You also need to send your transcripts from your school and fill out the application and send them a check for a few hundred dollars. It takes awhile to put all those things together. I would recommend sending everything in as soon as possible. It took a few months for them to process my license since California is such a big state with a lot of nurses."
It takes a strong, independent, creative person to be a military spouse, and these men and women could be wonderful assets to ANY workforce.
Please share the struggles you have faced and more importantly your stories of triumph (like Melissa above). The more we can learn from success stories, the more we can apply to our own lives!
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