U.S. Chamber of Commerce
Washington, D.C.


Thank you, Monique and Katie. For your service, and for sharing your stories.

For just a moment, I want all of you to picture a mom of three kids on a base.

She seems to have it all under control.

Her hair is tied back, so that little hands have nothing to grab, and she seamlessly moves between distracting her toddler and keeping her eight-year-old from stealing another cookie from the snack table.

She smiles when she tells you how proud she is of her husband, floating somewhere in the middle of the Pacific. How her kids miss him, but they are holding up and so, so brave. How they can’t wait for him to come home in just a few months.

It’s not until you turn the conversation to her that you see those tiny cracks in her wall of strength.

How is she doing?

Well, she does miss her work.

Yes, she’s applied to a similar job here, but with no luck. Application after application, she feels like her degrees are going to waste, like she’s stuck.

After months of trying, she’s ready to take anything – after all, there are bills to pay – but it won’t be the job she loved.

It won’t be the career she’s worked so hard to build.

I can’t tell you her name, because I’ve met her more times than I can count.

Since we launched Joining Forces more than ten years ago, I meet her and spouses like her everywhere I go.

Lawyers and lab techs, teachers and accountants. The husband who feels like he’s lost his purpose. The wife who has to explain the gaps in her resume again and again. The dad who can’t interview because he can’t find child care.

And I meet their service members – worried that their family is struggling back home, questioning how long they can serve their country when their spouse is unhappy or unfulfilled.

When I brought these stories back to my husband, President Biden, he listened.

And then he took action.

In June, I stood next to him, in front of hundreds of military spouses at Fort Liberty, as he signed the most far-reaching Executive Order on military spouse employment in American history.

He’s prioritizing military spouses for federal jobs.

He’s making it easier for spouses to take those jobs with them when they move – that means they can do their federal jobs remotely, transfer offices, or change agencies if they need to.

And, he created flexible spending accounts for military families that they can use for child care, helping open doors for spouses who are looking for work.

But not all spouses work for the federal government and not all of them want to. They also want to work for you.

I know you understand the seriousness and urgency of this mission. And I know that many of you are already part of the solution.

So, I want to thank you for your efforts, and I want to ask you to reach a little bit higher, push a little bit further – because we don’t just need spouses to have jobs.

We need them to be able to keep those jobs, and turn them into careers.

Hiring our Heroes and Blue Star Families are asking for 1,000 companies to commit to retaining more spouses.

It’s ambitious, but together we can achieve it. And everyone in this room has a role in making this vision a reality.

Later today, you’ll leave this conference. And tomorrow, you’ll go back to your companies. And you’ll talk to your hiring team.

And, you’ll tell them what we talked about here – the commitments and the thousand company goal.

And they might tell you that it sounds hard, that it’s too complicated. And in that moment, I hope you think of that mom with three kids on a base.

I hope you think about the military spouses working at your company.

Think of the value they bring. And then think about how much it costs to lose talented staff.

So, I’m challenging you to take that next step.

And I’m challenging you to talk to other companies, and get them to commit to this as well.

Change isn’t easy.

But neither is moving to a new military base, again and again. Neither is parenting while your partner is deployed. Neither is losing sleep, worrying that the person you love most in the world might not come home.

That’s what our military spouses do every day. They do it even when it’s hard. They do it for us.

And we owe them the same devotion.

Thank you.


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