On Wednesday, President Trump and First Lady Melania hosted an event in the White House East Room observing National Military Spouse Appreciation Day. This has been an annual celebration dating back to 1984 as President Ronald Reagan recognized the profound importance of spouse commitment to the readiness and well-being of members of our military. Each year, the POTUS commemorates this day with a formal speech and a proclamation.
In opening comments, Melania addressed the mothers in the room. She said, “Today, I want to take this opportunity to let you all know that as mothers who are members of the military community, you deserve recognition for not only your love for your children but for the dedication and sacrifice you make on behalf of our country each and every day.”
JOBS, JOBS, JOBS
During the celebration, the president who is becoming known as “the jobs president” was true to form by signing an executive order to enable military spouses to find work with less difficulty. Under the Trump Administration, veteran unemployment has dropped from a high of 16% to just 4%, while military spouse unemployment remains high, at levels of 16 to 20%, and spouse underemployment averages between 20 and 25%. These high rates persist in spite of a military spouse group with higher levels of education than the population at large.
Military families who regularly move so their spouses can continue to serve our country, have to deal with job searches hampered by regulations that prevent their occupational licenses from easily transferring from state to state. Some of the most common occupations impacted are teachers, nurses, and lawyers. In 2016, over 30% of military spouses required a government license to do their jobs, versus 22 percent of all workers.
OPPORTUNITY AND ACCOUNTABILITY
The order calls for new accountability measures in hiring opportunities for military spouses in both the public sector and the federal government. The improved process will allow the government to better track its effectiveness and success in promoting greater awareness of existing opportunities and hiring military spouses.
President Trump received outbursts of applause and cheers from the spouses in the room for his comments:
“We are honored by your presence, and we celebrate your heroic service, and that is exactly what it is, heroic. Too often military spouses do not receive the honorary recognition they deserve. 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. We are forever in your debt.
My administration is totally committed to every family that serves in the United States armed forces. Earlier this year, I was proud to sign that big pay raise, and there will be more, and you will not have to wait another ten years.
America owes a debt of gratitude to our military spouses, and we can never repay you for all that you do. However, we can, and we will give you the opportunities you deserve.”
Jennifer Korn, a special assistant to the president, told reporters the issue is personal to her as a Marine Corps spouse who at times in her career had been unemployed or underemployed. She said, “It is really important that the commander-in-chief not only have the backs of our service members but also have the backs of our military spouses.” She added, “As a federal government if we are going to be working with the private sector and asking others to hire military spouses, we need to lead by example.” There is no doubt that with the executive order President Trump signed he is leading by example, he is strengthening our military, and he is Making America Great Again.