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Military Spouse Career Advancement Initiative (Pentagon Conference Center)
Remarks as Delivered by Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates, Pentagon Conference Center, Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Good morning everyone, and thank you all for coming. Today we embark on a landmark program that will open the doors to our military spouses for more fulfilling careers.
We understand how hard it is for families of military men and women who have to be ready to move anywhere in the world every couple of years. Spouses are called on to pack up and relocate the family often at the cost of their own careers. 
This makes it difficult to navigate the career licensure and certification requirements that go with most professions.  In addition, education is often unaffordable for young families, who must also bear the expenses of child care.
The Department of Defense has long been committed to helping military spouses pursue rewarding careers and removing barriers to employment. We have reached out to employers and helped them recognize the true value of military spouses. In the past couple of years, as David [Chu] mentioned, more than 400 companies, many of whom are represented here today, have committed to hiring military spouses. Even greater potential lies in the collaboration we embark on today.  
The Department of Defense could not have done this alone. In collaboration with the Department of Labor, we are investing more than $35 million in the initial phase of this initiative which will take place in eight key states with 18 military installations. 
We appreciate the support of everyone who has made this program possible. Specifically, I want to thank our partner, Elaine Chao, who as Secretary of Labor has long been a champion of this effort, and who has made it a point to specifically help our military spouses.
Beginning this January, the Departments of Defense and Labor will launch the test phase of the Military Spouse Career Advancement Initiative. This initiative will help military spouses address education, training, and professional licensing and certification issues needed to have high-growth, portable careers in fields such as technology and health care. Community colleges on military installations are valued participants this endeavor as well. I would like to thank the representatives here today for their support in preparing military spouses for new careers.
We owe it to our brave men and women in uniform to assist their families as they do their job, often thousands of miles from home and their families and under extremely hazardous conditions. When service members find the time to call home or email home, they shouldn’t have to worry.  They have the right to hear their loved ones honestly say, “We miss you, but we are doing fine.” 
Thank you, and now I am now pleased to present Secretary Chao.