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Wednesday, Feb. 29, 2012

Around the Army: First lady urges governors to aid spouse employment

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WASHINGTON — First lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden, wife of Vice President Joe Biden, urged the nation’s governors to remove employment barriers for military spouses with professional licenses.

“What we are asking is for a level playing field,” the first lady said during the National Governors Association’s winter meeting Monday at the White House. “We … want to make sure that these spouses have a fair shot to pursue their careers and support their Families.”

Speaking to the governors and their spouses, Obama and Biden said the lack of license portability — the ability to transfer an existing license to a new state with minimal application requirements — is the No. 1 frustration they hear from military spouses.

More than one in every three — or 35 percent of military spouses in the workforce — has a job that requires a professional license or certification. Frequent military moves and varying and lengthy state licensure requirements combine to create ongoing employment headaches for job-seeking spouses, Obama said.

“More than 100,000 military spouses are affected by this maze of credentialing and requirements — 100,000 men and women,” she said.

The first lady cited Army wife and nurse Kelly Crowley, also an expectant mother, as an example. Crowley has moved three times in four years of marriage. And in each new state, she takes on the lengthy and expensive process of applying for a license.

“She estimates that the constant moves have cost her about six months of paychecks,” Obama said. “Six months of paychecks from a woman who wants to work, a woman serving our country.

“And the whole process can be so cumbersome that she’s not even sure that she’s going to go through it again for her family’s next assignment,” she said. “She’s ready to walk away from her career, because the burdens are so great.”

This is a frustration not only for nurses, but also for teachers, child care providers, accountants, real estate brokers, dental hygienists, social workers and thousands of other spouses in careers that require licenses.

Army charges Manning with leaking intelligence

FORT MEADE, Md. – Army Pfc. Bradley Manning was arraigned here Thursday on 22 charges that include wrongfully releasing intelligence, theft of records and aiding the enemy.

Manning elected to defer his plea and also defer the forum selection for his court-martial — whether he will be tried by a judge or a panel. The court set a tentative date of March 15 or 16 for the next session to hear pretrial motions.

Manning was charged with aiding the enemy in violation of Article 104 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice. He also was charged with 16 specifications under Article 134 of the UCMJ: wrongfully causing intelligence to be published on the Internet knowing that it is accessible to the enemy.

If convicted of all charges against him, Manning would face a maximum punishment of confinement for life, reduction to the lowest enlisted pay grade, forfeiture of all pay and allowances, and a dishonorable discharge.

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