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Memorandum of Understanding Signing
Remarks as Delivered by Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld, Washington, D.C., , Friday, July 11, 2003

Thank you, David.  Welcome everybody.  Elaine -- we’re so pleased to have you here and thank you for coming.  Congressman Brown and Congressman Michaud and Congressman Reyes --we’re very pleased to see you.  We also have Les Brownlee and HT [Johnson] is here and General Pete Pace.  And I think the sergeant major is here?  There he is.  Good, sitting right back there.  Sergeant Major Estrada, nice to see you.

I thank everyone for coming.  It’s always a pleasure to see Elaine and to be able to cooperate with her and with the Department of Labor.

We have something very much in common -- our two Departments.  We recognize that people are the most important thing that we have as a resource and we value them greatly.

In the military, we spend a lot of money on platforms and technology and all of that -- and most of the discussion you hear is about those things.  They are fought over and discussed in Congress and debated.  How many of these should we have?  But the truth is that without the people and their skill and their courage and their training and their dedication this Department wouldn’t be able to do anything approximating of what we are capable of doing.

As David said, during World War II my father was in the Navy and we went from North Carolina in a blimp base to Birmington, Washington waiting for an aircraft courier, Coronado, California.  And my mother was a substitute school-teacher and she tracked around trying to do that.

When I was in the Navy, I went through.  My dad was out in the courier -- the pacific most of that time.  When I was in the Navy, as a pilot we went through, I think 4 or 5 changes of station in a relatively short period of time and my wife had to work.  And she bounced from sending out bills in a tailor shop to working in a dress store and the likes.  And it’s not easy -- they’re hampered unquestionably by a number of factors and certainly in our case at least, the fact of frequent moves is a difficult thing.

So this partnership between the Department of Labor is important -- it can help spouses get steered toward careers that are compatible with frequent relocations, it can also provide access to national and local employers -- both of which of course can help the Department of Defense in that it improves its retention and recruiting as well as the quality of life.

So we owe all of our people -- our volunteers, the people who serve, and of course, we owe them a great debt of gratitude -- but also their families and their spouses.

If there’s anything we can do to improve their lives and create a circumstance that’s better for them is just enormously important.  And this is one of them, so Elaine we thank you for coming, we thank you for the work that you and the fine men and women of the Department of Labor have given to this project and would like to have you come up and say a few words.

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