WASHINGTON, Aug. 5, 2013 - A White House and Defense Department challenge to hire 50,000 military spouses by the end of 2015 surpassed its goal Aug. 1, the acting undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness told members of the Defense Department's Military Family Readiness Council at the Pentagon today.
The effort to hire 50,000 spouses reached fruition through the Military Spouse Employment Partnership, a group of more than 180 employers that vowed to recruit military spouses, Jessica Wright said.
Part of the broader DOD Spouse Education and Career Opportunities program, MSEP is a result of Joining Forces, a 2011 call to action by First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden, wife of Vice President Joe Biden, to mobilize support from all sectors of the nation to help find work for service members, families and veterans.
"These achievements would not have been possible without a community of partners, and I really do want to give a shout-out for the strong advocacy ... of the first lady, Michelle Obama, and Dr. Jill Biden," Wright said. They crisscrossed the United States, she added, meeting with business leaders and heads of key organizations to talk about spousal employment.
"This is very important," Wright said. "Without their advocacy role, we would not have been as successful."
Wright also recognized the newly formed Spouse Ambassador Network for its help in reaching reach the 50,000 mark. She said the network has created a "network of networks" by bringing together dedicated military support organizations with hundreds of local chapters that connect military spouses to career information, professional networking opportunities and local community resources.
"Today, we celebrate these important MSEP milestone achievements, which are part of the employment goals we share with the White House's Joining Forces and our MSEP employers -- who collectively pledged to hire 50,000 military spouses by the end of 2015," Wright added. "With today's number ... hiring 50,000 military spouses, you can see that we are well ahead of schedule in reaching that goal."
The council and MSEP deserve kudos for the 50,000 spouse hires, Wright added. "This is really huge," she said.