Service to Military Families
One of the greatest aspects of West Virginia’s people is love of country. Our military men and women display their patriotism every day and in every mission. In recent years, West Virginia has far too often wished our men and women well, with heavy hearts, as they depart for tours of uncertainty in the name of freedom. No one knows this feeling more than the families who must wait at home.
West Virginia has the highest number of men and women serving our country per capita. With such a distinction, we have a multitude of families who patiently pray and remain strong as their loved ones go in harm’s way half a world away. These families need our support.
Through the West Virginia National Guard, the State Family Program provides a number of assistance opportunities for guard member families to receive help with housing and health care issues among many others. While the Guard has a long established tradition of providing such assistance, I encourage each and every individual West Virginian to fill in the gap.
That is why I launched the initiative "Serve West Virginia Military: Serving Those Who Serve Us." I encourage all West Virginians to participate in this wonderful program to help ensure that our military families are taken care of while their loved ones are away or any day. Giving back can be as simple as a phone call, an offer to baby-sit or sharing of a home-cooked meal. Whatever you can do to support our troops by helping their families during deployment will be much appreciated.
As time moves on, it is my hope that communities will share ideas about how to return the patriotic favor that so many of our military members have voluntarily offered to us. Please join me in bringing service to military families.
To learn more about the "Serve West Virginia Military" initiative, please visit http://www.serve.wv.gov.
Governor's Commission on Military Spousal Licensure
My Serve West Virginia Military initiative has challenged and inspired individuals and groups throughout the Mountain State to serve those who serve us. And it is my hope that the Commission on Military Spousal Licensure will continue that spirit of service.
I first heard about spousal licensure issues during our recent trip to Washington, DC for the National Governor’s Association Winter Meeting. While there, I had the distinct honor of joining First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden for their annual spouses luncheon. During the event, they spoke about how they had been encouraging states to make policies which would help to ensure that military spouses do not have to face unnecessary obstacles when moving from state to state and pursuing their chosen careers. They made it clear that as state leaders, we have the opportunity and duty to support military spouses by making it easier for them to transfer their professional licenses as they move across state lines.
First Lady Obama and Dr. Biden informed us that in February 2012, only eleven states had pro-spouse legislation in place. As of February 2013, only one year later, seventeen states had passed spousal licensing legislation, bringing the overall total to twenty-eight states with military spouse licensure measures in place. An additional fifteen states had active spousal licensure bills at that time. This information surprised me. I could not believe that so many states had already adopted policies or drafted legislation for this cause, and we were not one of them.
As soon as I returned to West Virginia, I contacted General Hoyer’s office and Governor’s Office staff to set up a meeting – I had to make this happen for the Mountain State.
Across the country thirty-five percent of military spouses work in such professions. And their jobs are vital to their families. Teachers, nurses, real estate experts, accountants, dental assistants and others we trust to care for our children are affected by the lack of licensing reciprocity and portability between the states. Due to the volunteer nature of our military, the sacrifices military families make for our state and this country and the fact that these families help us to maintain the readiness of our military; we must make it our duty to do everything within our power to ensure that military spouses are supported in every way possible.
That is why the governor has asked us to come together, study this issue, and make recommendations, including potential legislation, so we may better serve those who have given so much for us. This eleven-member commission will include: The Adjutant General of the West Virginia National Guard or his designee, members of my office as well as state licensing experts, and military spouses themselves.
Together, we are going to evaluate potential best practices in order to provide these individuals with endorsements for license reviews, temporary or provisional licenses and expedited application processes, so that we may lessen the burden of license portability issues on our military families.
The Governor and I know that West Virginians are “can-do” people who believe that anyone who is willing to work hard should have the opportunity to succeed. And in 0rder to succeed, we must make it our mission to help these individuals. The job is certainly not over – it is just beginning – but the strides we are making in West Virginia and throughout the nation are commendable, and I know that as long as we continue to work together, we will find ways to overcome these obstacles and continue to serve those who serve us.
Reasons for the commission:
- Military families move across state lines ten times more often than civilians, which presents a licensing challenge to military spouses whose profession requires certain state licenses or certificates.
- 35% of military spouses work in professions that require state licenses or certifications, including teaching, nursing, real estate, child care, accounting and dental assisting.
- The lack of licensing reciprocity and portability between the states, and the often duplicative nature of background checks, exam requirements, fees and other licensing requirements, can create an unfair barrier to a military spouse’s successful pursuit of a career.
- The commission will evaluate potential best practices to facilitate license portability for military spouses, including but not limited to license by endorsement, temporary or provisional licensing, and expedited application processes.