We’re Merit. We work with thousands of public and private sector organizations to make their members’ hard earned credentials accessible through digitization. Our technology is relied on in mission-critical situations across emergencies, education, workforce, and occupational licensing.
Here’s a fun fact: Ten percent of Merit's full-time employees are military veterans. Our veteran coworkers understand the frustration felt when a military spouse’s vocation requires a license that doesn’t have reciprocity across state lines.
Most states require out-of-state professionals to take additional classes and training before obtaining a local license. This delays employment and destabilizes families. The U.S. Department of Defense found:
- 14.5% of military spouses move across state lines each year vs. 1.1% for non-military spouses1
- ⅓ of these spouses hold a professional license for work1
- ⅕ spouses share that keeping this license is a challenge1
Outdated licensing policies result in $94.4M estimated annual economic losses due to open positions that could easily be filled if professionals could more seamlessly transfer licenses from one state to another2. This is an issue that we aim to fix through the proper technology and process.
"THIS IS A FULLY SOLVABLE PROBLEM." TOMER KAGAN, MERIT CEO
On Monday, October 19, 2022, the Alliance for States Providing Interoperable Reciprocity (ASPIRE) was launched at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. ASPIRE is a broad coalition of advocates, non-profit organizations, elected officials, and business owners committed to eliminating barriers to interstate license transfer - specifically for military spouses.
Though over 34 states have legislation mandating or enabling reciprocity, no central platform existed. Merit is the only company that has solved the problem of digitizing interstate credential recognition and cooperation.
"MY FAMILY HAD TO SEPARATE FOR SEVERAL YEARS."
During the launch, several veterans shared their stories of single-state license impact. Terron Sims, U.S. Army Veteran & Merit Executive Director for Military and Veterans Affairs, is a fourth-generation veteran and the son of a Marine. He attended nine schools from kindergarten to ninth grade.
He explained how his family suffered because of burdensome licensing practices:
"When my family was stationed in New Orleans, it took my mom several months to find employment. She took that life lesson learned. So when my dad took command at Camp LeJeune three years later, we remained in Northern Virginia because my mom had a job as an accountant in a company that she very much liked. As far as she was concerned, moving to North Carolina was not an option because she could not afford to interrupt her employment."
In ASPIRE, states partnering with Merit military families would not experience the traumatic separation that disrupted Terron's childhood. They can offer a far less stressful, near-seamless professional transition without that mountain of paperwork to fill out and submit, followed by months of waiting for that critical first paycheck.
"I ENDED UP A HOMELESS VETERAN."
Ginger Miller, Founder and CEO of Women Veterans Interactive Foundation, is a disabled veteran. Medically discharged from the military, she struggled to translate her license into a family-supporting career. In addition to caring for her husband suffering from PTSD, she worked three jobs and went to school full time. She succeeded in lifting her family out of poverty.
What ASPIRE is doing right now is making it easier for those of us who have worn that uniform along with our spouses to get those jobs that we need to feed our families. These are hard economic times. You're going to put something in the palm of our hands to make one aspect of the transition a little bit easier. You'll reduce the stress and anxiety we feel during the transition.
TRANSFERABLE LICENSES MAKE LIFE BETTER FOR:
- Military families
The ability to easily transfer professional and occupational licenses will significantly reduce the stress and anxiety felt by service families who struggle financially with each move.
- Agencies and employers anxious to hire skilled military-related professionals
Schools, healthcare systems, businesses, and organizations will be able to hire skilled professionals and close employment gaps rapidly.
Merit's most recent poll conducted by Stephen Clermont of Change Research found:
- 90% agreed that, given inflation, we need to make it easier for military spouses to get a job
- 83% support military families using their licenses to be able to work right away
- 59% would vote for a candidate who supports allowing reciprocity
Delivering the technology is Merit's way ensuring that every military family not only stays together but thrives through meaningful employment in every state where they serve our country.
“For Army spouses trying to balance a professional career with the frequent moves required by the military, the complicated patchwork of state licensing rules is challenging and often a source of financial stress. Thankfully, some states have reciprocal agreements for certain types of licenses, but there is a lot left to do. This a priority for AUSA. We are happy to have partners in this effort.”