President Joe Biden recently signed an executive order aimed at strengthening economic opportunities for military and veteran spouses, caregivers, and survivors. This comprehensive set of administrative actions focuses on providing more flexibility, support, and resources to enhance the economic security of military families. The executive order recognizes the unique challenges faced by military spouses and seeks to create a more supportive environment for them.
Flexible Policies and Support for Military Spouses:
One of the key aspects of the executive order is to encourage federal agencies to implement flexible policies that retain military spouses. These policies include granting leave when their partner has to relocate due to Permanent Change of Station (PCS) orders and expanding remote work opportunities, even for spouses stationed overseas. The order also enables military spouses to seek advice on overseas employment issues through military legal assistance officers, providing them with the necessary support to navigate the complexities of military life.
Enhanced Resources and Training:
To ensure that federal human resources and hiring personnel fully understand the needs of military families, the executive order establishes new training programs. By improving their understanding of the challenges faced by military spouses, these personnel can better support their unique circumstances. The order also addresses the need for resources, such as affordable childcare. It accelerates the implementation of the dependent care flexible spending account, allowing military families to receive pretax benefits for daycare, preschool, and summer camps. Additionally, the order focuses on providing resources for military spouses who are entrepreneurs, including grants and loans to help them start and sustain businesses.
Supporting the All-Volunteer Force:
President Biden emphasized that the executive order is an essential part of sustaining the all-volunteer force, which has been the backbone of the U.S. military for almost 50 years. Military spouses, caregivers, and survivors play a crucial role in supporting military personnel, and their contributions are vital to the strength of the armed forces. The executive order recognizes and supports these individuals who have answered the call of duty alongside their partners.
Building on the Joining Forces Initiative:
The executive order draws heavily on the work done through Joining Forces, an initiative launched in 2011 by former First Lady Michelle Obama and current First Lady Dr. Jill Biden. Joining Forces focuses on providing support to military families, caregivers, and survivors. The contents of the executive order reflect the insights and experiences gained through this program, demonstrating the commitment to address the unique needs of military spouses and their families.
A Call to Action for the Private Sector:
While the executive order provides significant support, First Lady Dr. Jill Biden called on the private sector to contribute as well. She urged employers to recruit military spouses and offer flexible work opportunities, recognizing the valuable skills and adaptability they bring to the workforce. By creating an environment where military spouses can thrive, the nation benefits as service members can fulfill their duties knowing their loved ones are supported.