The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s Hiring Our Heroes welcomed First Lady Jill Biden Wednesday to its end-of-year meeting with Veteran Employment Advisory Council members. Dr. Biden called on America’s largest employers in attendance to take the necessary steps needed to make employment opportunities more accessible to the military community.
“It starts by creating flexible, transferable, remote work opportunities. For families, remote work means mom or dad doesn’t have to start over at each duty station,” Dr. Biden said. “Our military isn’t going to be able to keep our best and brightest if they have to choose between their love of family and their love of country. That’s why supporting military families is critical to our national security.”
A military mother and grandmother, Dr. Biden is a longtime military family advocate. As Second Lady, Dr. Biden teamed up with First Lady Michelle Obama to launch Joining Forces, a White House initiative to encourage members of the public and private sector to support families of service members and veterans, caregivers, and survivors. In July, Dr. Biden announced that Joining Forces will specifically focus on military family employment and entrepreneurship, along with military child education and military family health and wellbeing.
“For ten years, we’ve made progress in so many areas— hiring veterans, educating schools about military kids, raising awareness about caregivers. But when it comes to military spouse unemployment, the needle doesn’t move—instead, it’s gotten worse. Today, it’s more than seven times the national rate,” Dr. Biden said.
According to research conducted by Hiring Our Heroes, 39% of military spouses have seriously discussed with their service member spouse the possibility of leaving military service specifically to support their work or career. In the same survey, 43% of military spouses working full time reported they have chosen to live separately from their service members at some point during their career. Referred to as geo-baching, this strategy is employed by a growing number of military spouses to prevent resume gaps, to pursue their career goals, and to contribute to their household income.
“As we think about how our employee needs have changed, the time is now to tackle what has been a long-term and longstanding challenge for military spouses,” said Eric Eversole, president of Hiring Our Heroes. “When we start facing this next group of challenges, we need to have an all-hands-on-deck approach.”
To date, more than 617,000 veterans and military spouses have found employment through HOH events and programs.