SEATTLE — There are nearly 100,000 military members in Washington according to the Department of Defense.
When military members move to the state, they're often joined by spouses. There is now a new state law in Washington aimed at helping them find employment.
Tanya Rosales was working a booth Tuesday at the Seahawks Military Hiring and Resource Fair, looking to connect with veterans as a part of her role working with the Tacoma Vet Center. She also worked as a medic in the army and was a military spouse when her husband was serving.
“We moved probably 10 times in his 20 years of service,” said Rosales.
During those moves, she said finding employment as a military spouse was hard. She experienced challenges when she was working as a dental assistant.
“When we moved to Washington, all my licensure was not accepted. And so, it was a difficult time for me,” said Rosales.
This is a common setback military spouses face, which is why Olivia Burley, the Washington State Military Spouse Liaison, said the Washington Military Spouse Employment Act that passed in this year’s legislative session is needed.
“Employment is a huge issue for military families,” said Burley. “Military spouses face an unemployment rate in the 30% or higher realm.”
She said this new law supports military spouses in various ways, including allowing for expedited and temporary licensing for certain jobs, protecting spouses from penalties if they have to leave a job due to their spouse's military service and more.
“Everything from helping with professional licensure to providing a demonstration campaign for businesses to know the right ways to hire and retain military spouse employment talent,” said Burley.
Those who work with military families say spouses are often highly educated and looking for work.
“In the state of Washington, when people are looking for great talent, I mean, the military spouse talent is amazing,” said Mike Schindler, the CEO of Operation Military Family.
Schindler said this legislation will help lift burdens for military spouses.
“For them to have to come into a state and spend a year to get recertified in something that they've already done, I mean, for that to go away, that's huge,” said Schindler.
Rosales said she hopes this will help other military spouses going forward.
“Anything to make that process easier, I'm all for it,” said Rosales.