By Elaine Sanchez
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, March 12, 2012 – I attended a luncheon about a week ago to hear the wife of the nation’s top military officer address a group of military spouses attending the 2012 Military Spouse Summit in Washington, D.C.
Deanie Dempsey, wife of Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, had a key message for these spouses: share your amazing stories.
“I want all of America to see what I see — this is a group that can be an incredible source of good,” she said.
This past decade of war has challenged military families in ways no one could have anticipated, Dempsey noted. Yet, spouses have remained steadfast — serving and sacrificing alongside their service members.
“As Marty and I have traveled around, we have been personally touched by your commitment and your sense of service to your country,” she told the spouses.
As a nearly 36-year military spouse who has moved 21 times, Dempsey said, she understands spouses’ challenges, whether it’s health care, education or employment. She’s also a military mom — all three of her children served in the Army, and her son remains on active duty.
Dempsey said the nation is making progress tackling spouse employment issues, particularly through the Joining Forces campaign, a White House initiative to rally the nation in support of troops, veterans and their families.
A few weeks ago, First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden, the vice president’s wife, unveiled a report that aims to remove employment barriers for the thousands of spouses with occupational licenses. A lack of license portability — the ability to transfer an existing license to a new state with minimal application requirements — can cause spouses to bear high administrative and financial burdens as they attempt to obtain a license.
At the time of the announcement, eight states had passed legislation to ease license portability issues, while 15 others had legislation pending or waiting to be introduced. Since then, Dempsey said, four more states have introduced legislation to support spouse licensure.
Additionally, the American Society of Travel Agents has announced the creation of the Joining Forces Travel Industry Coalition, which will amass veteran and military spouse hiring commitments from travel industry firms. Coalition companies have committed to providing nearly 3,000 jobs for veterans and spouses by 2014, Dempsey said.
Each day, more and more people are recognizing that military spouses represent “a tremendous source of strength,” Dempsey said.
“You are resilient, accomplished, experienced men and women who possess strong values and an even stronger work ethic,” she said.
Dempsey encouraged spouses to keep telling their “extraordinary” stories — to each other and to the American public — “because it’s an amazing story that everyone should hear,” she said.
For more on Mrs. Dempsey’s remarks, read my American Forces Press Service article, “Mrs. Dempsey Urges Spouses to Share ‘Amazing’ Stories.”