WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE — Ohio Governor Mike DeWine signed a bill into law Jan. 27 that aims to make Ohio a military-friendly state.
Senate Bill 7 will reduce employment barriers faced by military spouses by mandating state occupational licensing agencies to issue state licenses and certifications to qualified individuals who are licensed and certified in other states while their spouse is serving on military duty in Ohio.
Before the bill was signed into law, military spouses who hold licenses and certifications in other states, but not in Ohio, would have to undergo the credential process all over again while in-demand jobs are left open.
“Frequent relocation puts a burden on families,” DeWine said, adding that military families move approximately every three years. “The goal is to take away those barriers.”
The bill signing took place at the National Museum of the United States Air Force, and called various elected officials to speak as well as individuals who were personally impacted by what SB-7 aims to protect.
Lieutenant Governor Jon Husted explained that by 2030, more individuals are expected to be 65 and elder than 18 and younger across the nation.
“As our workforce ages out, we have to develop the workforce of the future,” Husted said. “This is a simple and easy way to knock down those barriers so that hundreds and thousands at a time can join our workforce in a timely manner in critical areas, such as nursing and education.”
Special Education Teacher Brianna McKinnon explained that she moved to the Miami Valley when her husband was ordered to become stationed at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. She was unable to go back to work because Ohio did not recognize her teaching license, which was issued from Washington state.
“I had to take classes despite there being a high need for special education teachers,” she said.
She met with fellow military spouses, and eventually State Representative Rick Perales, and began a fight that lasted approximately two years.
“I plan to take this bill to the national level,” she said. “Women, spouses and friends — you can be heard.”
Perales described McKinnon as “the inspiration for the bill” and said SB-7 “is a win-win for military families in Ohio.”
“[SB-7] sends a signal that Ohio appreciates [members of our military] and their service,” Perales said.
Major General Carl Shaefer, deputy commander of the Air Force Materials Command of Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, was also personally impacted by what SB-7 aims to protect, but on a different level.
“My wife let her teaching licenses go,” Shaefer said, adding that his wife worked up to a masters degree in order to teach. “She let that go, so I could serve — thank you, honey — many military spouses have licenses and want to contribute as [soon as possible] and this bill makes that happen.”
Congressman Mike Turner shared that when the Air Force was considering where it should host the F-35 program, Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson considered which states were the most military-friendly. It was through Wilson that Turner learned of the spousal reciprocity issue.
“If we had not undertaken this [bill], we may not have landed this F-35 program,” Turner said, adding that the program will soon bring approximately 500 jobs to the area.
DeWine explained that military spouses are in a unique situation and sometimes a tough situation. However, his goal is to make Ohio the most military-friendly state in the nation.
“Our military families make a great deal of tremendous sacrifices,” DeWine said. “This bill is a way to help them.”
Contact Whitney Vickers at 937-502-4532.