Tag Archives: military spouse employment

Georgia Doesn’t Want “These People…” and They Mean YOU, Military Spouse!


This week, as part of my position here at NMFA working on spouse licensure issues, an article from The Daily Report popped up in my news feed. It detailed a recent board of governors meeting from the State Bar of Georgia. Apparently, things got heated when board members were asked to vote on whether or not to allow military spouse attorneys the opportunity to provisionally practice law in Georgia.

One board member was quoted as saying, “Why should we let these people come in our state who may not know a…thing about Georgia law and maybe get [their clients] in more trouble than when they started?”

As a military spouse, being called “these people” will always get me riled up. It’s not a very nice thing to say, and I am being nice by putting it that way.

But here’s the thing: I LOVE being one of “these people,” and the board member who called us “these people” obviously doesn’t know that “these people” are amazing.

“These people” include military spouses who started out their lives with a plan, and things changed. They married a service member, committed to selfless sacrifice, duty, and honor.

“These people” followed their service member, with tens of thousands of dollars in law school loan debt and left high paying job offers behind. They put the commitment of their service member ahead of their need to make money.

Yet, “these people” remain committed to service of their own, advocating for clients and causes.

“These people” spent thousands of dollars, and hundreds of hours studying and sitting for bar exams, which would only serve them for two or three years. Many of “these people” have three or more active bar licenses before the age of 35, that require them to take continuing legal education courses annually (which cost money), pay annual dues, and adhere to the same code of ethics as their colleagues who are actively practicing.

But “these people” will earn less than those colleagues because they relocated with their service member spouse, over and over again. “These people” have been embraced by 12 states and the Virgin Islands, who recognize the value military spouses bring to the table, and provide a provisional license if a military spouse is licensed through exam in another state.

What “these people” are not asking for is a handout, a lower level of professional, or ethical scrutiny, or different standards. “These people” are asking for a reasonable chance to share their talent and commitment; an opportunity to advocate and represent, and to bring their very specialized, unique and broad perspective to the legal profession in the state where their service member spouse is stationed for what will be too short of a period of time to sit for another state bar exam (a 6-12 month process).

“These people” are serious, professional, dedicated, smart, ambitious, and repeatedly challenged in ways you can’t be if you practice law in the same place your whole career.

“These people” inspire me, and I am lucky to be able to call myself a member of the Military Spouse JD Network, made up of “these people” around the globe, working to, not only, improve each others ability to work and thrive in our careers, but to provide legal assistance and support to other military families.

And the amazing traits of “these people” aren’t limited to attorneys. Military spouses who need licensing accommodations include teachers, nurses, mental health providers, and more.

“These people” are committed to helping their communities, no matter what state they live in. Do not turn “these people” away. I promise, we are worth the trouble.

Brooke-GoldbergPosted by Brooke Goldberg, Government Relations Deputy Director and JD

Never Fear a PCS Again: 4 Steps to a Great Teleworking Career!


Telecommuting: working at home by using a computer terminal electronically linked to one’s place of employment.

I think many military spouses fantasize about the glowing beacon of landing the perfect telecommuting job. A job that moves with you from one duty station to the next. A job where your bunny slippers are part of your professional wardrobe and your job-related moving stress consists of ensuring your new location has high-speed internet access.

So how do you find this perfect-for-mobile-life telecommuting job?

You don’t.

Step 1: Start by looking for a job you love, where you can use your skills, education, and training to be successful. I think some struggle because they’re only looking for a telecommuting or a remote job. The place you love might be in an actual brick and mortar building. Don’t count those places out.

Step 2: Excel at your job. Become the go-to-person for your special skills. Be the asset your boss can count on to get the job done. Become your own shiny star in your work universe.

Why put forth this much effort if you’re moving in a few years?

Because you’ve created a successful track record of working hard and proving that you have what it takes to get the job done!

Step 3: Pitch a telecommuting plan to your boss. Review your job duties and descriptions. What portions of your job can be done offsite? What duties must be performed in an office? Next, explore your company’s telecommuting policies. Do they have a telecommuting policy? If not, look for samples in like-industries and provide examples to your employer. Talk to colleagues who telecommute and ask if they work under a formal telecommuting policy. Then, make a pitch to your boss. Show how your job duties can be conducted offsite successfully, and request the opportunity to stay with the company in a telecommuting role. Another tip: take every chance you have to explain why the company benefits from keeping you on staff, even remotely. You’re a shining star, remember? To make things even better before you pitch your telecommuting plan, try working offsite a few days a week before your move.

Step 4: Set yourself up for success once your employer agrees to your new telecommuting arrangement. Have a dedicated work area just for work. Ensure you have a space that clearly separates your work life from your home life. Be familiar with your human resource policies on teleworking, and adapt best practices in your own personal work. Set clear expectations, like the frequency and methods of communication to best connect with your office headquarters.

Teleworking can be a glowing beacon for a lot of military spouses. Take your time and try these steps to create your perfect telecommuting job!

Are you a military spouse who telecommutes? How did you start with your employer? What advice would you add to our list? 

katie2Posted by Katie Savant, Government Relations Information Manager (and teleworker!)

MilSpouse Professional License Transfers: Is There an Easy Button?

newspaperAccording to the Department of Defense, military spouses are an educated bunch, with over 84% of military spouses having some college education, 25% have earned a four- year degree, 10% have an advanced degree, and 5% have professional licenses.

That’s the problem with statistics; 5% doesn’t seem significant until it’s put into perspective. That little number represents tens of thousands of military spouses, primarily female. MyCAA has also acknowledged that one of the side-effects of education is the up-keep with licenses during PCS moves, which are quite frequent for military families.

I was fortunate to have received a scholarship from MyCAA, in addition to another scholarship from my university. Combined, those two financial awards paid a fourth of the tuition for a graduate degree at Hardin Simmons University, and allowed me to fulfill my dream of becoming a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC), or psychotherapist.

The road that leads to becoming an LPC starts upon graduation. Similar to many other fields, the candidate must pass a national exam and gain clinical hours. It’s a lengthy process which takes about 24 months. In October, 2014 I received my full LPC license in Texas. That month, we also received orders to PCS to Louisiana—just over the state line. However, I couldn’t have foreseen the heartache that moving 50 miles would entail.

I called the Louisiana LPC Board to find out when they would meet again, and when the deadline was to apply for licensure there. The process is painstakingly slow. Every piece of the submission packet must be sent by mail to the Board. A few pieces of my packet were lost in the mail, so I rushed to re-send the signed documents by certified mail. This brought the total cost of being licensed in Louisiana to $275, after I just paid for licensure in Texas.

Because military spouses moves 10 times more frequently than a spouse married to a civilian, Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden, helped put into action a restructured process for the 5% of military spouses in career fields requiring licenses. The three strategies include: endorsing existing licenses, issuing temporary licenses, or conducting expedited review processes for military spouses (each state chooses which strategy they’ll use). There are 47 participating states. Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal signed a new law, HB 732 in May 2012, which helps speed up the transfer of professional licenses from other states when military families relocate due to PCS orders to Louisiana. To guarantee no delay after relocation, the bill allows for the granting of temporary licenses until a full license is obtained.

On paper this legislation looks good. In reality this is a different animal.

Jody Pace, a Registered Nurse from Texas, was scheduled to PCS with her husband to California. She spent four months and $200 for an RN license in her new state. “I tried calling several times and sent emails, but never heard anything back from the Board of Nursing. When I went to the office, face to face, they informed me that I hadn’t gotten my fingerprints in California, so it would take longer.” Jody applied for her license in November 2014 and received it four months later.

Alicia Hartman recalls paying $776 in the last two years for board fees in New York and Arizona. Her husband received PCS orders to Louisiana, and Alicia now faces more re-licensing fees when she arrives.

Unfortunately, some talented military spouses decide to leave the workforce because the new laws aren’t being implemented well. Caitlin Antonides was granted a temporary teaching certificate in Alabama. After one year, her certificate expired and she wasn’t able to continue despite being a veteran teacher elsewhere. She decided fighting the system wasn’t worth the burden for her and her family every time they move.

That’s just it. We shouldn’t have to make the decision to give up our own careers and aspirations because we are a military family.

It is becoming increasingly popular for military families to choose to live in separate locations, known as geo-bacheloring. Dr.Rachel Chesley, a pediatric oncologist, and her husband, made the tough decision to live apart since they married in 2009. To better support her career, he is leaving his Air Force pilot position later this year. These were the same choices my active duty husband and I faced after it was determined by the Board on November 21st, 2014, that my graduate degree lacked coursework in Human Growth and Development, and a Supervised Internship in Mental Health Counseling. This determination was based on the fact that the university where I was graduated from in 2012 is not accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs. Hardin Simmons University has applied for this accreditation and anticipates receiving it at the end of 2015. They meet every other criteria including other accreditation and coursework in Human Growth and Development.

Human Development standards are established and mandated by the state of Texas in order for LPC’s to fulfill their role within their scope of practice. Questioning my coursework meant questioning the state of Texas. Since the Louisiana LPC Board did not interpret the law as it was intended when considering my licensure, I had the burden of proving to the Board that my education and experience was “substantially equivalent” to the background required by a Louisiana LPC. During my research, I realized I was essentially denied a license for doing less than what I am trained, qualified, and licensed to do only 50 miles from my house in Louisiana.

As David LaCerte, Louisiana Secretary of Veteran Affairs argues, I should have been granted licensure by endorsement. Winning my license to practice counseling in Louisiana was a personal win, but not necessarily one for military spouses.

The real take-away from this experience is that after surveying 22 international friends about their home countries I have learned the United States is unique in requiring re-licensing after moving across state lines. In Europe, citizens are free to move across the European Union. We need to keep the conversation going in order to bring awareness and improve quality of life conditions for military families. We are a resilient bunch but we tend to give up easily when told “no” by officials. Why? The answer tends to be that by the time the military spouse is given a definitive answer by their board there isn’t much time left before new PCS orders come through. Sometimes a deployment is on the horizon and we don’t think we have the strength or resources to play both parents and fight a powerful board. We may feel that there is no other choice but to accept a wrongful decision. The truth is that we shouldn’t have to because laws are already in existence.

Posted by Nancy Grade, Licensed Professional Counselor and Air Force Spouse

Financial Freedom Awaits: Apply for a FINRA Military Spouse Fellowship March 2!

financial-counselorSince I was young, I have been frugal and purposeful with spending money, and I’ve always been great at placing money aside. In my adult and married life, I’ve learned the importance of saving with intention. But I’ve also discovered the importance and power of goal setting. It’s far more powerful to know what one has in mind for the future, especially when it comes to financial freedom.

We have been debt free for five years now. From this experience, it inspired me to join the personal finance field. As a military spouse Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) Fellow, I overcame my first challenge as we moved from New Jersey to Arizona. I was beginning my fellowship towards becoming an Accredited Financial Counselor® during a permanent change of station (PCS). I knew that it would take a couple of months for our family to feel settled, so it was a challenge, at first, to find a program that would take me on as a fellow, knowing I was also managing a household after a cross-country PCS move.

I began by teaching the financial literacy curriculum to the Girl Scouts of Southern Arizona troops of Cochise County. Then I got connected to a program within the 4-H Cooperative Extension at the University of Arizona-South, called Launch into Life. Through Launch into Life, I was able to teach high school students about the importance of financial planning, along with other skills, like career planning, interviewing, and resume skills.

It wasn’t until I was trained as a Virtual Client Services Representative for Operation Homefront that I began to accumulate the majority of the counseling hours required by the FINRA fellowship program. I was fortunate to find a Certified Personal Financial counselor, who helped me find a volunteer opportunity within the Soldier for Life Transition Assistance Program. I also had the opportunity to volunteer as a personal financial instructor, teaching National Guard and Reserve Soldiers how make informed decisions about employment using monthly budgets, and I volunteered my time during the tax season with the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program (VITA) for low income families in Sierra Vista, Arizona. The challenge of moving to a new duty station was overcome by getting connected and building a network. The more people I helped, the more these very same people helped me find other opportunities.

The best part of being a FINRA Fellow is getting to see someone understand that money is absolute – a dollar is still a dollar. Money can’t control you, but you can control money. I witnessed children as young as kindergarten learn about wants vs. needs, high school students understand a salary of a cashier does not allow for certain luxuries, like having cable television, and Soldiers having a better understanding of their income vs. expenses – a concept not known unless a monthly budget is made and followed. There are certain things that need to be kept in mind as one begins to accumulate wealth, whether it’s a few hundred dollars, or a thousand; you can either continue to save and spend the same amount of money you always have, or you can learn to adjust your spending habits and save a greater percentage of your income.

Three things to always think about while getting your financial ducks in a row:

  1. You don’t need to make more money to be able to save… simply spend less.
  2. If you don’t have the cash, do not buy it.
  3. Credit cards are not an emergency fund.

Becoming debt free has afforded my family the freedom to be able to give more to help others. It’s lessened the financial stress as we get closer to retirement. Now we can save more…and worry less.

Are you interested in changing your future? FINRA will be accepting applications for their Military Spouse Accredited Financial Counselor® Fellowship from March 2 – April 7, 2015!

Posted by Cynthia Giesecke, FINRA Military Spouse Accredited Financial Counselor® Fellow

Teleworking: Is It Really Worth It for Military Spouses?

mom-working-from-homeLike many military spouses, I’ve struggled with unemployment and underemployment. I’ve worked in terrible offices, doing thankless work, with bosses who were less than stellar. My employment journey had been so rocky, I started to accept that ‘bottom of the barrel’ was my lot in this military life.

Then came a fortune cookie that changed everything: “Bide your time for success is near.”

And it was.

A few weeks later, I got a job offer that landed me here. Working for the National Military Family Association has been the best thing I’ve ever done. How often are military spouses fortunate enough to find and land a job that is portable, fulfilling, and that we love doing? The answer is barely ever.

If you’re a military spouse looking for a teleworking position, I have one tip: try to find a job in an office, rather than starting out at home from day one. It’s a risk, but I believe going to an office, forming relationships with coworkers, and being able to SHOW your worth as an employee in person is critical.

Of course, not every company or position will accommodate working remotely, so do your research before you apply. Do you know if the company has other remote employees? Does the job listing say they offer flexible schedules or telework days? If you aren’t sure, ask!

But what happens when you find a great job and get the go-ahead to work remotely when you PCS? Do the Pinterest fairies come during the night and give your home office a makeover worthy of HGTV? Umm… no.

For me, it took a few months to even get around to unpacking what would be my home office. I worked at my kitchen table quite a bit, and on other days, my motivation came flowing when I was bundled up in a blanket on the couch.

Teleworking takes discipline—and not just when it comes to checking off everything from your to-do list. Work and personal life are suddenly in the same space…literally and figuratively, and human interaction outside of your family becomes scarce. This is especially true if you’re PCSing to a place you’ve never been, or to an area where you don’t know anyone.

When my only interaction in a normal week was my husband, and the sandwich artist at Subway, I knew I needed to regroup. “But the sandwich artist is my friend!” I told my husband. I was delusional and in need of a good group of girlfriends to pull me out of my rut. I wondered if I was just one of those people who thrived in an office setting. I questioned whether I was still valuable to the Association, and ultimately, I asked myself, is teleworking really worth it?

Working from home can be the gold medal of military spouse careers, but it takes more than just waking up and walking into your office. Some days are so productive you think you can take over the world. Others seem like a win because you managed to change out of your pajamas before your spouse came home from work.

Don’t settle for ‘bottom of the barrel.’ If you love what you’re doing, set boundaries for yourself, and surround yourself with things (and people) outside of your house. Teleworking can be an awesome, rewarding experience for military spouses.

shannonPosted by Shannon Sebastian, Content Development Manager

Can Military Connected Women Have It All?

As a working mom, it was an honor and a privilege to moderate a conversation between 4 amazing women at this year’s Leadership Lunch.

The topic: does a work-life balance exist for women in the military community? But really, the conversation applied to women—and even men with families.

Lieutenant General Flora Darpino, the first female Judge Advocate General of the U.S. Army is married to a retired Army colonel. They raised two daughters together. For LTG Darpino, it’s not about work-life balance. It’s about life.

“For me, work and life don’t have to be two separate things. I don’t look at it as two different buckets on a tight rope that I am trying to balance. I just have to figure out what is going to be in the bucket that I am going to carry.”


Lakesha Cole, 2014 Armed Forces Insurance Military Spouse of the Year®, is an entrepreneur. She’s founder and CEO of “She Swank Too,” a boutique for women and girls.  She stays balanced by bringing her kids to work with her, going along with the theme that life and work aren’t necessarily separate.

“My daughter lets me know that I am spending too much time at the computer. My daughter went so far as hiding my computer charger. Set those boundaries and stick to them.”


Reda Hicks, 2014 Armed Forces Insurance Army Spouse of the Year®, has been a “remote” spouse for the past 6 years. She’s a practicing attorney in Houston, Texas where she lives with her son while her husband is stationed at Ft. Riley, Kansas.

“Women are their own worst critics. Is something that I am going to do when he is 3-years-old going to mess him up for the rest of his life? A lot of us are Type A, and we need to sometimes let some of that control go. I don’t have a formula for how it’s all supposed to work, but you just have to take it day-to-day.”


Claudia Meyers, wrote, directed and produced Fort Bliss, a movie about an Army medic who comes back from deployment and struggles to resume her role of “mom” to her young son.

“It was the ultimate working mom scenario. Just like civilian mothers, it’s finding that balance between career and family. It’s one of the elements that goes into decision making – she is trying to make the best decision she can in an imperfect situation. When can you really be present and what compromises do you have to make.”

So, does a work-life balance exist for women in the military community? I learned that the answer depends on what balance means to each individual.

Now excuse me while I go reevaluate what’s in my bucket.

Besa-PinchottiPosted by Besa Pinchotti, Communications Director

5 Tips for MilSpouses Moving a Career License or Certifcation

i-just-dont-getYou’ve just invested years of your life getting the education necessary to have a job you think will be fun, earn you some cash, and offer you some PCS portability. You pay a bunch of money to take a test, earn your license or certificate and get to work. Then you get orders to another state, and find out the rules there are different. Your license to work as a dental hygienist, real estate agent, nurse, cosmetologist, teacher, or lawyer (or any number of other career fields) is most likely only valid in the state where you received it. Different states may regulate career fields differently.

So how do you figure out where to start? Here are some tips to guide you:

1.  Go to the Military One Source: Spouse Education & Career Opportunity (SECO) spouse licensing and certification map. Click on the state you’re moving to. If it’s blue, that means they have passed some legislation helping military spouses—but that doesn’t necessarily mean you are in the clear. Keep in mind that EVERY career field is different. Some laws are tailored to only help certain career fields, but those laws designed to help can sometimes vary from state to state. By clicking on the name of the blue states, you’ll find links to the legislation, and information about who, and how it helps.

2.  Do some research and find the licensing or certification board for your career field in the state you are moving to. Read the rules about what is required in that state. Compare it to the rules for licensing and certification for your field in the state where you currently work. You may be able to apply for a license without further coursework. You also may be eligible for a waiver or a reduced licensing fee.

3.  Before you move, prepare and be patient. If you had to test into your career field, it is unlikely that you can go to another state and start working without going through an application process. That takes time and paperwork. Do your best to keep all of your licensing and certification paperwork in order between moves. Keep good records of your work experience, which may also help bridge the gap between state requirements.

4.  Tap into the spouse network. There are networking groups out there specifically for military spouses that can help you with support, advice, connections and information. Business and Professional Women’s Foundation, InGear Career, MilSpouse eMentor Program, are some great networks to get you started.

5.  Still confused? Call and ask to talk to a SECO career counselor at the Military One Source hotline number 1-800-342-9647. SECO has experts who can help you decipher this maze and support you. On that same note, make sure you let Military OneSource know how their resources have worked for you or not worked for you so that they can improve the services they offer.

Moving your home from state to state with each new set of PCS orders can be hard enough. Finding a new job in a new city or state makes it even more difficult. It’s no wonder so many spouses say, “I just don’t get it!” when it comes to moving their career licenses and certifications. With your brains – which we know you have – and a little persistence, you’ll be set up to work in no time!

Do you have any tips for spouses who are trying to move their licenses and certifications to a new state? Share them with us!

Brooke-GoldbergPosted by Brooke Goldberg, Government Relations Deputy Director