Every Administration’s First and Second Ladies come to the job with specific issues they want to address, and the current First and Second Lady are no exception. For the past two years, Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden have been laser-focused on just such an issue—one they say calls for an “all-hands-on-deck” approach. MSJDN couldn’t agree more.
Today, Vice President Biden, Dr. Biden, President Obama and Michelle Obama held a press conference for The Pentagon Channel to talk about Joining Forces, the White House’s veterans and military spouses hiring initiative. In attendance were members of the Administration and Joining Forces, representatives from some of the major business partners involved in Joining Forces, and a number of military spouses and veterans.
The Press Conference, which coincided with the publication of an article by the First and Second Ladies for Fortune Magazine, underscored the success that Joining Forces has enjoyed over the past two years. These include partnerships with over 160 Fortune 500 companies (and counting), the hiring of roughly 250,000 veterans by partner businesses, and another 40,000-plus military spouses through its new Military Spouse Employment Program (MSEP). It also gave the First Lady an opportunity to thank some of Joining Forces’ stand-out partners in the business community, like UPS, Home Depot, BNSF, Deloitte, McDonald’s, USAA, Walmart, the Blackstone Group, and the US Chamber of Commerce. She also noted that AT&T is working on an online talent exchange website, where companies can help each other hire more veterans.
But more than a mere pat on the back, the message from the First and Second Ladies today was a call to action, challenging the business community to embrace veterans and military spouses, and to be proactive about bringing them into the work force. President Obama noted that military spouses are a tremendous untapped resource, telling business leaders that “hiring military spouses moves the country forward.” Dr. Biden pointed out that employers participating in Joining Forces have told her “if you are looking for dynamic, resourceful, and highly skilled employees, military spouses are exactly what you are looking for.” This sentiment was echoed by the First Lady, who called military spouses “talented, resilient, disciplined, and ready to do the job, whatever it takes.”
Steps are being taken to provide incentives for businesses to hire veterans and military spouses, such as President Obama’s proposal to make permanent the existing tax credits for businesses hiring veterans and wounded warriors. Meanwhile, other legislation is being proposed that would provide tax credits for military spouses to help off-set the burden of professional licensing fees incurred when they transfer states with their servicemembers. But the message today was clear—reducing unemployment among veterans and MilSpouses, tapping into the tremendous pool of available talent, is a responsibility squarely in the hands of the private sector. The question the First Lady challenged all of us to ask ourselves is: “What can we do for these men and women who have served our country so bravely?”
As a group composed of MilSpouse Attorneys, MSJDN understands first-hand the challenges facing professional military spouses trying to build careers while serving their country. That is why, in addition to our advocacy efforts, MSJDN is committed to equipping its members with the tools to find meaningful work in their chosen profession, and providing networking opportunities that will help them build a professional network.
On May 22, in Washington, D.C., MSJDN will host “Making the Right Moves: Celebrating and Educating Military Spouse Attorneys.” This all-day event will include a day-long professional development program for military spouse attorneys, an awards luncheon with guest speaker and Clerk of the U.S. Supreme Court General William Suter, and a networking reception at the US Chamber of Commerce. MSJDN would like to invite members of the business community to join us at our luncheon. Come meet and help us celebrate some of the amazing men and women carving out a career in the legal profession, all while serving their country with a military spouse.
But there’s more! In the spirit of the First and Second Ladies’ message today, MSJDN would like to extend its own call to action. We would like to challenge the members of our own profession, the legal community, to join us in embracing the hundreds of military spouse attorneys located in communities around the country. What can YOU do for these men and women who have served the country so bravely?