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Today, Second Lady Karen Pence held a meeting with the military service secretaries at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building to receive an update on military spouse employment challenges and the military’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Department of Homeland Security also participated in the meeting to represent the U.S. Coast Guard. The discussion entailed the ways each branch will continue to support military spouses and their families as America reopens. Mrs. Pence started the meeting by providing a brief overview of her military spouse initiative and the current concerns of military spouses as it pertains to employment and mental health. She also emphasized her willingness to partner and advocate for the work the military services are doing to progress and improve employment opportunities and the quality of life for military spouses and their families.

Following Mrs. Pence’s remarks, the service secretaries each provided an update about the work of their service department to support and find employment opportunities for military spouses. Of the concerns brought up, occupational licensing, new accommodations for teleworking, and career training services were made the priority of the discussion.

Mrs. Pence then opened up the meeting for questions and further discussion about other work and best practices taking place within the secretaries’ offices to support military spouses and their families. This allowed for each branch to brainstorm ways they can work together to ensure successful programs and policies are implemented and operating across all of the services. Specific policies addressed were: military family support measures, job flexibility when relocating, licensing reform, employment resources, and entrepreneurial opportunities including operating businesses from base housing.

Vice President Mike Pence surprised the group by stopping by the meeting to thank them for their leadership and work in supporting our Nation’s military families.

Meeting Participants Included:

  • Secretary Barbara Barrett, Office of the Secretary of the Air Force
  • Secretary Ryan McCarthy, Office of the Secretary of the Army
  • Secretary Kenneth Braithwaite, Office of the Secretary of the Navy
  • Acting Deputy Secretary Ken Cuccinelli, Office of Homeland Security (Coast Guard)
  • Jennifer Stewart, Chief of Staff, Office of the Secretary of Defense
  • Mrs. Leah Esper, Wife of Secretary of Defense Esper
  • Mrs. Hollyanne Milley, Wife of General Milley

Second Lady’s Military Spouse Campaign
Mrs. Pence launched a campaign in September of 2018 to elevate and encourage military spouses, and has focused on helping to create solutions for their unique employment challenges. Mrs. Pence has traveled throughout the country meeting spouses, business leaders, and government officials advocating for more fulfilling career opportunities for military spouses.