I fell in love with a Marine, and that is how it began.
We were high school sweethearts. Shortly after 9/11, he joined the Marine Corps. While I was studying law, he was in flight school. On Memorial Day weekend 2008 we got married; it was the only available time for my husband and I to get married—he could take leave from flight school, and I could finish 3L finals and take a small break before the BARBRI course started.
The day we got married is the day I made a commitment to my husband…and with that promise came a promise to serve our country by his side.
Since 2008, we have moved over seven times in thirteen years while growing our family, adventuring around the world, and making wonderful military friendships.
What I did not know was how challenging it would be as a spouse who wanted to work professionally.
Overseas, I found very few to no civilian attorney positions. Stateside, I encountered burdensome provisional admission requirements such as finding a supervising attorney and substantiating that I had the required minimum number years of legal experience for license reciprocity—which I didn’t because of the aforementioned reasons. Sound familiar?
The more that I share my story, the more I learn that my story is not unique.
It is probably no different than yours and other military spouse professionals who are trying to maintain their professional licensure—perhaps even multiple licenses in various fields—and paying dues while moving on average every 2-3 years, ten more times frequently than our civilian counterparts. While this is difficult, anything that can ease the burden on the military family as a unit helps with military retention, readiness, and quality of life.
HERE COMES THE GOOD NEWS!
Kentucky is the first state to consider waiving annual dues and renewal fees for military spouses. Most states waive dues only for active duty but not for military spouses. Kentucky is recognizing the unique challenges that spouses encounter while serving our country and the important role they fill—even though they might not be wearing a uniform.
In February, the Kentucky Bar Association Board of Governors approved a petition to amend Kentucky Supreme Court Rule 3.040 to include waiving annual bar dues for military spouse attorneys of active-duty service members. A public rule hearing is expected in May 2021.
On a parallel track, Kentucky State Representative, Ed Massey, attorney, and member of the Veterans, Military Affairs, and Public Protection Committee introduced House Bill 251. This bill waives annual dues and renewal fees for military spouse professionals with licenses in Kentucky. This bill includes but is not limited to waiver of dues and fees for accountants, architects, attorneys, auctioneers, cosmetologists, electricians, embalmers, emergency medical services, nurses, optometrists, pharmacists, physicians, pilots, real estate agents, and veterinarians. House Bill 251 was passed with consent in a committee hearing on March 3rd, 2021 and is now scheduled to be heard before the House Floor this week.
Call to Action Across the Nation
We need you, members of MSJDN, to build on the strong momentum of licensure reciprocity and help advocate for waiver of professional dues for all military spouses across the nation. Your story and your voice matter!
- Barred in Kentucky?
- Write a public comment on the amendment to Rule 3.040 and submit it to the Kentucky Supreme Court. Proposed language can be found here.
- Barred in another state?
- File a formal petition with your state bar association to waive bar dues for military spouse attorneys. Reach out to Nicolle Vasquez at email@example.com for a copy of the Petition that was submitted to the Kentucky Bar Association.
- If you are a military spouse with any type of professional license?
- Reach out to your state politicians to share your story and ask for waiver of dues through legislation for all professional military spouses. Comment on how a waiver of dues and fees would help ease some of the burdens that come with the transient military lifestyle.
- Share this blog post on your social media channels with your friends, fellow spouses, veterans, military support groups, neighbors, families, and communities to help spread the word about this exciting movement to support military spouses with professional licenses.
Our stories are powerful in painting the picture of the realities of military life –the great parts, the difficult parts, and what is needed to help military families remain resilient through the duration of service.
Helping ease burdens such as waiving professional dues for the military spouse helps the military family focus on the mission at hand in protecting our country.
Erin Ramey is from the tri-state area of Ohio, Kentucky and West Virginia. She is a Marine Corps military spouse, attorney, program manager, educator, and mother of three rowdy boys. She is passionate about advocating for military families and veterans by using her law degree and by building meaningful connections to perpetuate positive change in her community.