Remarks by Second Lady Jill Biden at the Joining Forces Veterans Jobs Summit and Career Forum at Fort Campbell in Campbell, Kentucky

April 23, 2014

DR. BIDEN: Thank you. Good morning, everyone. As a proud Blue Star mom, I'm thrilled to be here with all of you today. And thank you, Major General McConville, for that kind introduction.

I'd like to recognize the extraordinary military spouses and families who are here with us today. And of course, to my dear friend, the First Lady, Michelle Obama, I cannot believe that it's already been three years since we started Joining Forces.

From the very beginning, Michelle and I both knew we wanted to work together to support our military families. And we knew that the American people would come out in full force. But I think it's safe to say that we have been overwhelmed by the support shown for our servicemembers, our veterans and our military families.

From employers hiring veterans, to schools recognizing military kids, to non-profits supporting military families, America has stepped up. Our colleges and universities have stepped, as well. As an educator myself, making sure our veterans who return to campus communities succeed is particularly important to me, so I could not be prouder of these efforts.

And those of you who have tried to figure out your GI Bill benefits, as you know, it's not always that easy. That's why the administration's new GI Bill Comparison Tool is so important. With this new tool, you can get answers you need using information that you already know about yourself, like how long you've served and your current status. And when you type in the name of a school that you might like to attend, you can figure out how much the tuition will be, how much you'll get for books, for housing, the school's graduation rate, and the loan default rates -- just with a few clicks.

Another area we have made real progress in is supporting our military spouses. We all know the sacrifices that they make -- running households and raising kids alone through deployments, packing and unpacking after each and every move, and often while maintaining full-time jobs themselves. So that's why, nearly three years ago, I was honored to join military leaders, businesses and the Chamber of Commerce to announce the Military Spouse Employment Partnership. Our goal was to develop career and educational opportunities for military spouses.

When we started, there were just under 60 companies who had signed on. I am thrilled to say that, today, there are 228 partner employers. More than 1.8 million jobs have been posted. And as of this month, more than 60,000 military spouses have been hired. (Applause.)

The Military Spouse Employment Partnership has made a difference for thousands of military families -- people like Jessica Patrick, who's here today -- an Army spouse, a mother of two, and a registered nurse.

Just under a year ago, Jessica left her job and was looking for the next opportunity. Having already moved multiple times, and knowing that future moves were likely, she was looking for a military-friendly company -- companies that understood that military spouses have qualities they wanted, like dedication, flexibility, a strong work ethic, and endless energy. She was recruited through Humana's Veterans and Military Spouse Hiring initiative. Jessica said, knowing that they understood the gaps in her resume were because of the moves of -- with the military, it reduced the stress she experienced in previous job interviews.

Jessica knew she was qualified for the position, and went into the interview with the confidence she needed to succeed. She loves her job and the flexibility it has offered her and her family. And because she telecommutes 100 percent of the time, her family's move next year won't impact her job. More importantly, she sees her employment as giving her the chance to grow in her role, and advance in her career without having to start over. So now, Jessica is even looking to obtain a master's degree. Good for you, Jessica. (Applause.)

Stories like Jessica's are exactly why Michelle and I started Joining Forces. From sponsoring hiring fairs for veterans and spouses, to creating a mentoring program for 10,000 military wives and servicewomen, to helping spouses further their education, the Military Spouse Employment Network and others are playing an important role, and we are grateful for your support.

But we are not stopping. As more and more Americans understand what it means to serve, the more they are ready to step up and do their part.

And now, it is my great honor to introduce someone getting ready to transition to civilian life in the coming weeks. He is the father of four, the son of a Vietnam veteran, and a self-proclaimed "army brat" who grew up all over the world. Please join me in welcoming and thanking him for his service to our country, Sergeant Aaron Wanless. (Applause.)

Jill Biden, Remarks by Second Lady Jill Biden at the Joining Forces Veterans Jobs Summit and Career Forum at Fort Campbell in Campbell, Kentucky Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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