Karen Pence, the wife of Vice President Mike Pence, doesn’t make headlines often. When she does, it’s always in connection with something that she’s already making a positive impact on. Her latest accomplishment is a truly practical solution to a problem affecting the families of those who serve in our nation’s military.
“We all have a duty to the families of those who serve,” Mrs. Pence believes. All the countless “men and women who make sacrifices of their own to support their spouses, parents, and children in uniform.” It’s something she can easily relate to. “As a proud Blue Star mom of a U.S. Marine, I have a deeper understanding of the daily sacrifices. Without a doubt, our Armed Forces deserve our respect and care.”
After talking with “hundreds of spouses who live throughout the United States and other parts of the world,” she learned that one of their biggest challenges is spouse unemployment. She’s proud to be able to do something about it by leading an awareness campaign “to elevate and encourage our military spouses.”
She wants to encourage “more business to hire and retain veterans’ spouses.” So she designated empowerment zones. “I’ve had the honor of celebrating the new Military Spouse Economic Empowerment Zones around the country to help ensure those military family members are able to enjoy their fair share of the jobs and prosperity created by the strong and growing Trump economy.”
When she’s not wrangling her bees at the official residence of the Vice President on the grounds of the Naval Observatory, Karen Pence loves working with the families of our service members.
This is National #Pollinators Week and we’re proud to have honeybee hives and pollinator gardens at the @VP Residence. #Fact: Three-fourths of the flowering plants & about 35% of the world’s food crops depend on pollinators, like bees, to reproduce. 🐝🌻#bees #pollination @USDA pic.twitter.com/iBiopxhx18
— Second Lady Karen Pence (@SecondLady) June 20, 2019
“None of my duties and experiences as second lady of the United States has been as fulfilling as the opportunity to work with those who have served and sacrificed for this country,” she beams. Both her husband and the President “have ceaselessly endeavored to honor this country’s promises to military service members and their families,” she stresses.
It has been a top priority of the administration to “stop the open-ended overseas deployments that put Americans in harm’s way and separate them from their families for years on end.” We haven’t sent any new troops, which is a miracle all by itself. Even so, “the realities of our unstable world and the continued existence of groups that would do us harm necessitate a continued American military presence in certain parts of the world.”
While our men and women in uniform are fighting over there, their spouses can’t find work, especially if there is a relocation involved. “I found it extremely difficult to find a position where I could contribute all my professional, but inconsistent skills in a really meaningful way,” relates Holland Nguyen, a military spouse who lives in San Antonio, Texas. As a result of the program, she now works at Humana Military. “Several of our military spouses, including myself, have secured gainful employment as a direct result of the vibrant network and guidance here.”
The program launched in San Antonio in February 2018. Twelve zones are now up and running. “Military spouse employment is a very important aspect of a strong and resilient military,” Pence said. “We know that if the spouses aren’t happy the service members are going to get out of the service. We see it. It just makes sense. I’ve given you eight years, you’ve gotten to do what you love, now it’s my turn. It’s unfortunate that it has to be one way or the other.”
“The beauty of the Military Spouse Economic Empowerment Zones is that each zone’s working group focuses on local solutions for its military spouses, Natalie Ryan explained. She’s the senior manager with Hiring Our Heroes.