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First lady advocates for military spouses at Pentagon


** FILE ** First lady Michelle Obama delivers remarks in the East Room of the White House in this April 12, 2011, file photo, to launch Joining Forces, the national initiative to support and honor America’s service members and their families. Mrs. Obama is expected to announce the commitment from more than 100 medical schools during an appearance Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2012, at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais, File)

First lady Michelle Obama visited the Pentagon on Wednesday to urge state governments to help the spouses of military service members.

Mrs. Obama cited a new report by the Defense and Treasury departments that highlights the difficulties military spouses face when their husbands or wives are transferred to a new state.

About 100,000 military spouses have careers in which they are certified, such as in nursing or teaching, according to the report. Since states have different certification requirements, spouses often face huge obstacles to get re-certified when they move to a new state.

“This report simply provides a roadmap for best practices,” the first lady said during a gathering at the Pentagon. “The report contains tips and ideas, not edicts and decrees.”

For example, some states require would-be teachers to pass a test in that state’s history, forcing a spouse who may already be a teacher in one state to delay working.

Mrs. Obama urged states to find a way to help military spouses overcome restrictions by 2014. She said some states, such as Tennessee, allow military spouses to work under a temporary license while they work on getting a permanent one, as long as they demonstrate the ability to perform the job.

“The web of requirements and stands can get pretty thick,” she said. “More importantly, your bank accounts shrink.”

About the Author

Kristina Wong

Kristina Wong is a national security reporter for The Washington Times, covering defense, foreign policy and intelligence affairs. She can be reached at

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