This past May, Travis Air Force Base leadership recognized me as one of a number of military spouses who are faced with complications due to California's professional licensure restrictions and regulations. Just one example of the complexities the life of a military spouse can have, these complexities are magnified when the military spouse maintains a professional license. As a licensed marriage and family therapist who is married to an active duty Air Force officer with the requirement to move every 2-4 years, looking for employment can feel like a game of Tetris. Navigating my way through various licensing boards is like playing Tetris while blindfolded.
I serve Travis Air Force Base as a Military and Family Life Counselor. My mission is to provide non-medical, solution-focused, problem-solving counseling support, coaching, and education to service members and their families, ensuring the readiness of the military while helping families address unique stressors associated with the military lifestyle. The term "non-medical" refers to the Office of the Secretary of Defense removing much of the red tape that private practice and/or community mental health providers may present. Non-medical means there is no diagnosis, no formal assessment, no treatment plan, and no documentation. We get to be present with each client and support them in their time of need. Professional stressors related to challenges with billing, insurance, sliding fee scales, and everything in between have been removed. Active duty service members, their families, reserve service members, and retired military personnel have access to free counseling. When issues presented are beyond the scope of the program (mental health or substance abuse issues), counselors work with service members or family members to arrange appropriate services. We provide referrals to military social services and practical community resources.
During the course of my work, I connected with a small group of people working on behalf of military spouses. Discussing our beliefs and values, we found that we had similar perspectives on the unnecessary barriers to employment in California. I was given the opportunity to testify as a witness in both the California Senate Business, Professions, and Economic Development Committee and the California Senate Military and Veterans Affairs Committee in support of AB107. This bill seeks to amend and expand current provisions for temporary licenses for military spouses making it easier to obtain a temporary professional license when relocating to California due to spouses' military reassignment. Assembly member Rudy Salas' work on AB107 has the potential be incredibly helpful to military spouses. The military spouse does not choose to uproot their professional career every 2-4 years because it is beneficial. The military spouse chooses to uproot their professional career because of their commitment to their spouse and their spouse's commitment to our country. AB107 will prevent military spouses from losing thousands of dollars in salary and excessive time job-seeking, and will ease stressful transitions for future professionals. AB107 is now headed to the Senate Appropriations Committee for further review.
Written by Steven Mauro, MS, LMFT