Remarks by the First Lady at the 2023 Military Spouse Employment Partnership New Partner Induction Ceremony in Alexandria, Virginia

October 18, 2023

[As prepared for delivery.]

Thank you, Eddy, for that introduction, and for all you do for the Military Spouse Employment Partnership.

In March 2021, in one of his first department-wide memos, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin laid out three priorities for his term.

Number one: Defend the nation.

Number two: Take care of our people.

And number three: Succeed through teamwork.

Each of you in this room has a role to play in our national security by helping our Department of Defense achieve that second objective – taking care of our people.

Supporting our service members and their families through every move, every new base, every new job market.

Making sure military spouses don't have to put their careers on hold, or settle for jobs that don't put their education and experience to good use.

Helping our military families find high quality, affordable child care as they move from base to base.

We had a similar goal in mind when we created the Military Spouse Employment Partnership twelve years ago.

In the years since, through Joining Forces – my White House initiative to support military and veteran families, caregivers, and survivors – we've made progress.

My husband, President Biden, has called on all federal agencies to partner with the Department of Defense to hire and retain military spouses.

This past June, he signed an executive order to address the employment challenges faced by military spouses in the federal workforce, and to make it easier for spouses to take jobs with them when they PCS overseas.

His Administration is also supporting spouses who are trying to start businesses.

And through another historic executive order, he's improving access to child care for hard-working families, including military and veteran families.

But we can't solve this problem through executive orders alone.

That's why employers like you, who have partnered with us through MSEP, are so important.

Thank you for everything you've done. Thank you for your commitment to improving the quality of life for our service members and their families.

Since its inception, MSEP employers have hired more than 275,000 military spouses.

That's a figure we should all be proud of.

But we can't rest on that success. I'm here to ask you to keep going. Lean in a little more, push yourselves to hire more spouses, and retain those spouses.

Take advantage of programs like the Career Accelerator Pilot, and help spouses build a career with you.

And to those businesses who are not yet a part of our family – join us. Be a part of the solution. Military spouses bring skills and experience that can't be taught, and they can help your business run.

Because our service members shouldn't have to choose between their love of country and their love of family. We must give them the support they need to choose both.

I want to thank all of you for taking the time to be a part of this conference, for stepping forward and helping spouses, and for contributing to our country's national security.

And to the spouses joining us, I know the journey isn't always easy, I know the moves can be tough, and the deployments even tougher. But your President and I will never stop working to find ways to support you and your families.

Thank you for your sacrifice and your service.

Thank you.

Jill Biden, Remarks by the First Lady at the 2023 Military Spouse Employment Partnership New Partner Induction Ceremony in Alexandria, Virginia Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/367252

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