3:28 P.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT: Well, thank you very much, Melania. She’s become a very, very popular First Lady. I’m reading that. (Applause.) And I’m reading — I’m seeing all those stories, and they love Melania. And thank you, Karen — and Karen, and Ivanka, and Kellyanne. Thank you all for being here. Thank you very much.
To all of the military spouses here with us this afternoon: Welcome to the White House. A very, very special place. We are honored by your presence, and we celebrate your heroic service. And that’s exactly what it is.
Too often, military spouses do not receive the recognition they deserve. Do you know that feeling? Do you know that feeling? (Laughter.) I don’t think so, no. You endure long separations during deployments, and some of them are much longer than you ever bargained for. You routinely move your families around the country and all over the world. You maintain morale in your family and across the military community. Your support is essential to making our military the mightiest fighting force in the world, and getting stronger all the time.
We just approved $700 billion for our military. So we’re going to be — (applause) — we’re going to be having the best equipment ever known. And next year, $716 billion. So I wanted to let you know. (Applause.)
And, by the way, I know you don’t care about this, but that also includes raises for our military. (Applause.) First time in 10 years.
Your love, resilience, and courage uplifts our heroes and, indeed, our nation. We are forever in your debt.
I also want to thank all of the spouses here today who are serving in uniform. You are an inspiration to us all — a great inspiration. (Applause.)
Today I’m here to tell you that my administration is totally committed to every family that serves in the United States Armed Forces. That is why, earlier this year, I was proud to sign that big pay raise that I’ve already spoken about. And I am proud of it. And I guess there will be others, too. Would you like one sooner, or do you want to wait another 10 years? I don’t know. (Laughter.)
We’re also taking action to expand employment opportunities for our great military spouses. And I know what you’ve gone through. The competence is so high and yet it’s so difficult. That’s not going to happen anymore.
One of the things that helps is our tremendous job situation in the United States. We just did 3.9 percent unemployment, which is the biggest of this century; the best of this century. So that helps. That really helps a problem.
But even beyond that, you’re going to be given treatment like never before. As you know, the unemployment rate among military spouses, of whom more than 90 percent are women, is estimated to be four times higher than the unemployment rate that I just spoke of.
But we are going to change that, and we are going to change it as quickly as we can. It will go fast. You’ve seen what we’ve done, and we will do it. We get it done.
We’re working with states across the country to encourage them to remove licensing barriers so that spouses who work in careers such as teaching, nursing, and law, many others, also can get a job in their profession no matter where they move.
And in just a moment, I will take executive action to promote military spouse hiring across the federal government, something that people have wanted Presidents to do for a long time. Military spouses have already shown the utmost devotion to our nation, and we want to show you our devotion in return. (Applause.)
We will now ensure that you have better access to federal jobs. By taking this action today, we are leading by example and encouraging American businesses across the country to expand job opportunities for our incredible and talented and highly educated military spouses. This includes opportunities to work remotely, which technology, as you know, has made more possible and more of everything in life possible than ever before.
America owes a debt of gratitude to our military spouses. We can never repay you for all that you do. We know what you do, and your spouse knows what you do. We can never repay you for that, but we can and we will give you the opportunities you deserve.
Today, we take one of many important actions to ensure that you are free to pursue your careers, support your families, and continue serving this nation that we all love so much. When you are strong, your families are strong, and America thrives.
Thank you. God bless you. And God bless America. Thank you very much for all you do. Thank you very much. Thank you. (Applause.)
Should I sign it? (Applause.)
(The executive order is signed.) (Applause.)
Thank you all very much. This has been a great honor, and we’ll see you around. Thank you. Thank you. (Applause.)
3:34 P.M. EDT