Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Help Our Military Families Support Themselves Pennsylvania and Other States Must Make It Easier for Military Spouses to Change Jobs

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Help Our Military Families Support Themselves Pennsylvania and Other States Must Make It Easier for Military Spouses to Change Jobs

Article excerpt

Shelly Snell is a registered nurse. She's been married to Navy Commander Ben Snell for 16 years. They have two boys. And as a Navy family, the Snells have moved nine times.

It's a fact of life for military spouses -- when the country calls, they step up to answer. When their loved ones are sent overseas for months on end, they're holding everything together back home. When the PTA, the parish council, the Little League or the Girl Scouts need a volunteer, they're the first ones to raise their hands. And when they're asked to pack up their family and begin a new life in a new hometown, they're proud to do it.

But for so many military spouses like Shelly, each move to a new state also means a return to a familiar headache: renewing a professional license.

Shelly has renewed her license as a nurse seven times -- and she's not alone. More than 100,000 military spouses throughout America serve in a profession that requires a license or certification to work -- that's more than one-third of military spouses in the labor force.

So for teachers, nurses, real estate agents, accountants, physical therapists and dozens of other professionals, a move can mean gathering old transcripts, paying new fees, filling out a pile of paperwork and sometimes even taking entry-level classes -- no matter how many years of experience they have.

It's a process that can take months. And during that time, these military spouses can't practice their profession, even though there are jobs open in their new communities and companies desperate to hire them.

That means their skills go unused while their families try to get by without the income they need. It means they are unable to advance in the careers they trained for -- often for years. And sometimes, the hassle is simply too much, and these spouses choose to quit the careers they love and choose new ones that are more friendly to the military lifestyle. …

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