Arkansas law changes relicensure, recertification process for service members, spouses

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Valerie Halbert
  • 19th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

LITTLE ROCK AIR FORCE BASE, Ark. -- As Airmen change duty locations throughout their careers, spouses who join these members often run into problems when trying to establish or maintain their own employment and careers utilizing their occupational licenses.

While some states authorize reciprocity for certain types of licenses, not all states do; this requires spouses to update a license or certification, according to the new state’s requirements, and can lead to high relicensing fees.

Recently, Arkansas legislature passed the Arkansas Occupational Licensing of Uniformed Service Members, Veterans, and Spouses Act of 2021.

This act grants automatic occupational or expedited occupational licensure to current license holders to aid their entry into the workforce and also grants temporary or provisional licensure to initial candidates while expediting full licensure.

“Arkansas guidance waives these fees so there shouldn’t be any out of pocket expenses for service members and their spouses when they arrive on station,” said Lyndsey Ballard, 19th Force Support Squadron community readiness specialist. “They can now go to their occupational licensing agency and submit paperwork to begin working almost immediately, and that’s huge for us locally.”

Arkansas is one of only four states to successfully address eight or more of the top 10 issues affecting uniformed service families in fiscal year 2020, according to the Department of Defense.

“I’m a former teacher and my husband just retired so we moved around a lot,” Ballard said. “There were a lot of years that I was out of a job either because by the time I navigated through the long process we were moving somewhere else or simply because I didn’t want to invest the money into something that I would not make back during my time there.”

In 2019, the Department of the Air Force implemented the Spouse Licensure Reimbursement Program to alleviate some of these issues and reimburse service members up to $500 for occupational state relicensing and recertification costs their spouses incur due to a permanent change of station or permanent change of assignment.

The amount was increased to $1,000 in 2020 for PCS and PCA orders which were authenticated on or after Dec. 20, 2019.

In order to qualify, service members must be PCSing or PCAing from one state to another state, must have movement of dependents authorized at government expense, must file within 24 months of the date the PCS or PCA orders were authenticated, and the new state must require license or certification for the same profession as the previous state.

The 19th Comptroller Squadron financial services office is responsible for processing the application for reimbursement through the Comptroller Services Portal. Spouses must submit a copy of PCS or PCA orders, a valid current state license and state license from losing state, paid receipts of relicensing fees, and a completed Optional Form 1164.

“The financial aspect is huge and not having to rely on a single income for your household is a big bonus,” Ballard said. “You can work outside of the home and do something you love and worked hard for. It’s amazing being able to work and finding a sense of self-value in that.”

The Airman and Family Readiness Center has a directory of all Arkansas licensed, certified and registered occupational boards and can aid spouses in getting in contact with their respective board.

For further information or assistance, contact the A&FRC at (501) 987-2667.