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White House, DOD salute companies' commitment to hire military spouses

Dr. Jill Biden, the wife of Vice President Joe Biden, speaks at a Department of Defense Military Spouse Employment Partnership event in Washington, Oct. 17, 2016.  Biden, who helped to launch the initiative in 2011, applauded the 335 companies who have partnered with MSEP, as well as the 50 new businesses that were inducted as partners during the event. DoD photo by Lisa Ferdinando

Dr. Jill Biden, the wife of Vice President Joe Biden, speaks at a Department of Defense Military Spouse Employment Partnership event in Washington, D.C., Oct. 17, 2016. Biden, who helped launch the initiative in 2011, applauded the 335 companies who have partnered with MSEP, as well as the 50 new businesses that were inducted as partners during the event. (Defense Department photo/Lisa Ferdinando)

WASHINGTON (AFNS) -- Employers who hire military spouses are doing the right thing for their businesses -- and for the country, speakers at a Department of Defense Military Spouse Employment Partnership event said this week.

White House and Defense Department officials, business representatives and military spouses were among those who attended the Oct. 17 induction of 50 employers to the MSEP program -- the largest induction class since the initiative was launched five years ago.

By hiring military spouses, employers are promoting stability in military families, which increases the readiness of the force, said Todd A. Weiler, the assistant secretary of defense for manpower and reserve affairs.

"You're getting a loyal and committed workforce, and we're getting a more stable, a more predictable, a less stressful environment for our families," he told the employers.

Biden: 'Debt of gratitude' to military families

Dr. Jill Biden, the wife of Vice President Joe Biden, helped to launch the MSEP program in 2011. Speaking at the event -- which was held at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce building, the same location where the program was launched -- she said the entire family serves when a member is in the military.

"I believe that we owe those who wear our uniform and their families a debt of gratitude," she added. "Military spouses are among the most skilled and dedicated members of America's workforce. That's why all of you are here today."

At the program's inception, supporters were excited to have 50 partner companies that pledged to increase employment opportunities for military spouses, Biden noted. The number has increased significantly, she said, pointing out that the 50 new inductees were joining 335 other companies that had already partnered with the program.

"Since we launched, more than 100,000 military spouses have been hired, and that is truly remarkable," Biden said, welcoming the new partners into the program. "Our veterans, service members and their families deserve the very best efforts of each of us, to show them how much we appreciate their service to our country."

No such thing as 'average' military spouse

The experiences and makeup of military spouses vary greatly, including in age, backgrounds, education, career aspirations, family composition and religions, said Ellyn Dunford, the wife of Marine Corps Gen. Joe Dunford, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

"There is no such thing as an average military spouse, nor an average military spouse experience," she said. Dunford relayed the challenges of balancing her career as a physical therapist with her family life through more than three decades as a military spouse.

Amid the frequent moves, military families face challenges as spouses try to balance a careers, including perhaps even being geographically separated to keep a job, she said. Dunford said the lessons she learned over the decades have helped her in her current role and in advocating for military families.

She applauded the efforts of the MSEP and its partner companies, saying those who hire military spouses are using "their heart and their head."

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