The First Lady and I have witnessed firsthand the dedication, courage and sacrifice of our military men and women- and their families. Whether serving half way around the globe or here at home, it is the families of our military members who love and support them through deployments, reassignments and moves across state lines.
Families like Becky Poling and her husband, Major Tom Poling, and their three young children live in West Virginia. They have moved many times throughout the last few years - from California to Alaska and Missouri to West Virginia-because of Major Poling’s position in the National Guard. As a licensed physical therapist, Becky found the state licensing processes can be quite demanding: submitting an application to transfer, verifying her license through a state board, transferring board scores and in some cases, submitting her college transcripts.
Although cumbersome and time consuming, Becky said she and her family are fortunate as she and her family have had ample time to plan and prepare for each move. For military spouses who are looking for immediate employment, this process can be incredibly challenging, especially for those families who depend on two incomes.
Last April, I established the Governor’s Commission on Military Spousal Licensure to study and develop new and innovative ways for our state to better assist military families moving to the Mountain State. Studies show, military families are 10 times more likely to relocate than the average American family. Often each move brings a new set of challenges-especially for the 35% of military spouses whose careers require a state license or certification, like Becky Poling.
Across the nation, teachers, nurses, real estate experts, accountants, dental assistants and others are affected by lack of licensing reciprocity and portability from state to state.
This March, the Legislature stood with the men and women closest to our military members’ hearts - their husbands and wives - and passed HB4151 to provide military spouses with licensure options so they are able to begin working in West Virginia within a month of applying for a professional license or certification. It also waives the licensure fee for those spouses who have already paid a license fee in another state within six months of their temporary application, and gives Boards the ability to customize their licensing process to accommodate our military spouses.
I’m proud of the efforts of the Commission on Military Spousal Licensure and the Legislature to help ensure our military families have the best opportunity to succeed in West Virginia.
I’m truly grateful for the tremendous contributions of our military men and women. As we honor our service members, it is especially important we also recognize the great sacrifices their families make each and every day. Thank you and God bless.