Mrs. Dempsey Urges Spouses to Share 'Amazing' Stories

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.

When it comes to issues such as employment, military spouses aren't seeking special treatment -- just equal treatment, she said.

The Joining Forces campaign is making strides in its efforts to aid military families, Dempsey noted, citing its progress tackling spouse employment issues. First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden, wife of Vice President Joe Biden, launched this initiative last year to rally the nation in support of troops, veterans and their families.

A few weeks ago, the first lady and Biden, alongside senior defense officials, 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.

Finally, hiring fairs for veterans and military spouses will take place across the nation throughout the month, she added.

Each day, more and more people are recognizing that military spouses represent "a tremendous source of strength," Dempsey said, citing a Marine Corps wife as an example.

Stephanie Geraghty started the "Stroller Warriors," a running and fitness club for military spouses at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, N.C., to stay healthy, to foster friendships and to help create stronger families. She also helps to raise funds to support families who lost military loved ones, Dempsey said, even as she cares for her two children, one with special needs.

Dempsey recalled a quote from Geraghty: "Together we laugh, we cry, we overcome and we run. They are the best teammates I ever had."

Stephanie has it right, Dempsey told the spouses. "You are resilient, accomplished, experienced men and women who possess strong values and an even stronger work ethic," she said. "You are the best teammates everyone can ever have."

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.

Dempsey recalled a story the first lady shared at the Pentagon event to unveil the licensure report. Obama was meeting with a group of spouses in Kentucky, she said, when one spouse, with tears in her eyes, discussed concerns about her husband's deployment.

Another spouse in the group jumped in immediately and said, "I don't know this woman. I didn't meet her before today. But when she leaves here today, she will have my number and she will be able to call me any time. She will get the support of this friend right here."

"That story tells us who military spouses are," Dempsey said. "This is the life so many of you lead, [and] that is the commitment I'd like all of us to give each other." 
*Related Sites:*

Special Report: Military Family Support [ http://www.defense.gov/home/features/2012/0212_familysupport/ ]

*Related Articles:*

Mrs. Dempsey: Military Families Take Care of Each Other [ http://www.defense.gov/news/newsarticle.aspx?id=66829 ]

First Lady, Panetta Unveil Effort to Aid Spouse Employment [ http://www.defense.gov/news/newsarticle.aspx?id=67211 ]