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Deputy Secretary of Defense Kathleen Hicks Remarks for the Domestic Employees Teleworking Overseas (DETO) Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) Signing Ceremony (As Delivered)

Well, good afternoon.

It's my honor to welcome everyone here today for the signing of this important memorandum of agreement in support of our nation's military families.

Let me begin by thanking Dr. Biden for her steadfast and long-standing commitment to our nation's military families — from being a proud military kid and parent to launching the Joining Forces initiative, to advocating for today's memorandum signing. Thank you for all that you do for our military community and in support of our nation's defense.

I also want to thank Deputy Secretary of State Rich Verma and the team at the State Department for being great partners in bringing this agreement to fruition. And to all those in DoD, many of whom are here today, who worked tirelessly on this effort.

One of the Defense Department's top priorities is taking care of our people, and improving the quality of life of our service members and their families is central to that commitment.

We have incredible initiatives underway today to take care of military families, including universal pre-K in DoD schools, increases in pay, and new child development centers.

And we continue looking for ways to do even more to strengthen and support our military families.

Last year, I was fortunate to have the opportunity to join Dr. Biden in Fort Drum, New York, and we visited with troops from the 10th Mountain Division and their families. We heard directly from them about their priorities and concerns, and spouse employment was a recurring theme.

With having to move from post to post every couple of years, maintaining meaningful employment can be especially difficult for military spouses. It's even more challenging to do so when you're assigned to a duty station overseas.

So, in June 2023, President Biden and Dr. Biden announced an executive order to strengthen economic security for military families.

This Memorandum of Agreement was established between the Department of Defense and the Department of State for military spouses participating in the Domestic Employees Teleworking Overseas, or DETO, program.

Which brings us to today. By signing the memorandum of agreement, we are enabling federally-employed military spouses to work remotely from where their service member is stationed overseas and continue their professions with as little disruption as possible.

That matters for military spouses who want to continue down their chosen career path. It matters for the economic wellbeing of our military families. It matters for our ability to retain valuable talent and expertise in the federal workforce. And it matters for our national security.

We have the fiercest fighting force in the world because we have the finest military families in the world, and we cannot maintain military readiness and a strong all-volunteer force without them. Providing the support that they need is the least we can do for all that they do in defense of this nation.

We couldn't do any of this without our partners at the State Department, so let me turn the floor over to Deputy Secretary Verma to say a few words.