Columbia, May 10, 2018

Military Spouse Appreciation Day, May 11th, recognizes and honors those who have chosen to become military spouses. First honored by President Reagan in 1999, the Friday before Mother’s Day is proclaimed Military Spouse Appreciation Day. Military spouses are unique individuals who serve our nation through their unwavering support for their uniformed service member and other military families. These spouses are patriots because they place their spouse’s military service above living a typical family life.

On May 9, President Trump signed an Executive Order Enhancing Noncompetitive Civil Service Appointments of Military Spouses. In his words, “Military spouses make critical contributions to the personal and financial success of our military families.  Military service of spouses, however, often impairs the spouse’s ability to obtain and maintain employment, and to achieve career goals.  Multiple and frequent relocations make it challenging for military spouses to maintain the home front, to comply with licensure and other job requirements, and to obtain adequate childcare.” The Executive Order has concrete actions and accountability for federal agencies. It requires that federal agencies make jobs available to and prioritize jobs for military spouses and it requires accountability for hiring these individuals through annual reports.

The Executive Order states: “It shall be the policy of the United States to enhance employment support for military spouses.  This policy will assist agencies in tapping into a pool of talented individuals and will promote the national interest of the United States and the well-being of our military families.  It will also help retain members of the Armed Forces, enhance military readiness, recognize the tremendous sacrifices and service of the members of our Armed Forces and their families, and decrease the burden of regulations that can inhibit the entry of military spouses into the workforce.”

“The President’s Executive Order spotlights an issue that has been a source of concern for quite some time,” said Bill Bethea, Chairman of the MBTF.  “Military spouses must endure frequent moves which necessitate new job identification and recertification.  This places a financial hardship on service member families, it adversely affects morale, and it distracts our service member’s focus.  It also negatively impacts retention and recruitment, which is a major concern with our all-volunteer forces.”

“The MBTF is working diligently to ensure that our state is welcoming of the military families that come to live here, but there are more actions we can take to ensure this environment is genuinely supportive”, added Mr. Bethea. An Amendment to the Professional Licensing statute in 2013 (40-1-630) advocated by the MBTF and Department of Defense allows temporary licensing for military spouses, however, the issuance of such licenses and certifications is not required. We salute our General Assembly for passing legislation for South Carolina to join the Interstate Nursing Compact (Act 41) last year, and we are hopeful that they will also pass the pending legislation to join the EMS and Physical Therapy Compacts (H.4486 and H.4799) this Session.

The MBTF wants South Carolina to be one of the best duty assignments that every military family experiences, and when that service concludes we want that family to return as residents of the Palmetto State. Military families spend months and years apart, and they move frequently, uprooting from homes, jobs, and schools in order to ensure that we live in freedom. Military spouses deserve our respect and support, as they are the “glue” that holds our military together. We work with each of our military host cities as they reach out to engage military spouses as part of the community.

We encourage our Legislature to enact legislation that eases transitions for military families. Simple accommodations, such as expedited professional licensing for military spouses and service contract waivers for families who are unexpectedly transferred or deployed would give immeasurable support for our military.

For more information about the issue of military spouse employment in South Carolina, see the MBTF’s Issue Brief.  For the President’s news conference, click here.

Photo credit:  Deployment of Shaw AFB airmen.