The second lady of the United States made a surprise appearance at the Women in Military Service for America Memorial today to honor the Military Spouse Employment Partnership’s expansion and commend companies who have hired more than 65,000 military spouses since Joining Forces launched in 2011.
Brainchild of First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden, Joining Forces links employment, educational and wellness resources to military families.
“When we launched MSEP, we were excited to have 50 businesses involved [and] today … over 260 businesses have entered the partnership, so that’s nearly five times the number of when we started,” Biden said at today’s event. “These partnerships represent every employment sector and are offering jobs at every level within their organizations.”
The second lady recognized the Class of 2014 signatory partners as well as the 266 enduring corporate partners and other organizations that have been instrumental in posting some 1.8 million jobs on the MSEP career portal.
A personal connection
To illustrate her personal connection to the cause, Biden described herself as a “proud military daughter, mother and grandmother,” who understands the mixture of pride and concern that military families have when a loved one is deployed. “When you have a family member serving in the military, really the whole family serves too,” she said.
She noted in particular the sacrifices military spouses make – running households and raising kids alone, packing and unpacking after countless moves while maintaining full-time jobs.
These challenges, Biden said, led her to join military leaders, businesses and the Chamber of Commerce to announce MSEP, which strengthens the educational and career opportunities of military families.
Biden called military spouses among the most skilled and dedicated members of America’s workforce.
“By giving them the opportunity to succeed, you are making your business more productive,” she said to the inductees. “American businesses understand it’s not only the right thing to do for our country, but it’s the right thing to do for the business’s bottom line.”
Among thousands of success stories, Biden cited Jessica Patrick, an Army spouse, mother of two and registered nurse, who a year ago sought her next career opportunity following multiple prior moves and projected future moves.
Humana’s Veterans and Military Spouses Hiring Initiative recruited Patrick and she accepted, knowing that Humana understood the gaps and frequent role changes in her resume, which, Biden said, reduced the stress she had in previous job interviews.
A confident applicant and now content employee, Patrick loves her job and its flexibility, Biden noted, adding that the new job enables her to telecommute 100 percent of the time so that family moves no longer impact her career.
“More importantly, she sees her employment as … a chance to grow in her role and to advance in her career without having to start over once again,” Biden said.
Stories like this, Biden explained, are exactly why she and the first lady launched Joining Forces. “Michelle and I knew that the American people, if asked, would come out in full support [of] our military families,” she said.
America steps up
And MSEP, Biden said, offers hiring fairs, mentorship programs and assistance to spouses who wish to further their education. “From employers hiring veterans and military spouses to schools recognizing military kids, to non-profits like MSEP, America has stepped up,” she said. “You are making a big difference.”
By hiring and supporting a military spouse, she emphasized, companies help a military family maintain economic stability and peace of mind while the service member transitions back to civilian life.
“Our veterans, service members and their families deserve the very best efforts of each one of us to show them how much we appreciate their service to our country,” she said.
(Follow Amaani Lyle on Twitter: @LyleDODNews)