President Joe Biden visited Fort Liberty, the world’s largest military installation by population, on Friday and signed an executive order that aims to support military personnel and their families.
The commander in chief was joined by first lady Jill Biden. Both of them spoke before a large crowd of military families at Hercules Fitness Center on base. President Biden signed the executive order onstage afterward.
“I’m here as commander in chief to sign this executive order because it matters. It matters for our military recruitment and retention, it matters for our troops’ readiness and resilience, and it matters for our nation's safety and security,” the president said in his speech.
Among many other things, the executive order is intended to help military spouses and survivors eliminate barriers to hiring and retention; pushes for increased access to child care for military families; and encourages federal agencies to grant five days of leave when the military member has a permanent change of station.
“This executive order establishes good training for federal human resources and hiring personnel to ensure that all our military and veteran spouses, caregivers and survivors feel safe and supported,” Biden said.
Jill Biden is heavily involved with the White House initiative Joining Forces, the mission of which is to provide support for military families. The first lady spoke before the president about the importance of the executive order.
“I was having these conversations with Joining Forces, was working with military spouses, employee resource groups and agencies across the government to figure out the solutions that can make a difference in your lives,” Jill Biden said. “When we brought these stories back to Joe, he listened. He understands.”
According to a Department of Defense news release, the executive order will enable spouses to seek advice about overseas employment through military legal assistance officers.
“Too often, the people you work with, they just don't know. ... They don’t know what you’re going through,” President Biden said
It establishes training for federal human resources and hiring personnel to ensure they understand the needs of military families.
New funding options, including grants and loans, are provided to help military spouses start and sustain businesses, the release said.
The provisions were informed in large part by work done through Joining Forces, a White House initiative spearheaded by Jill Biden and former first lady Michelle Obama in 2011. That program focuses on providing support to military families, caregivers and survivors of the military, the release said.
Military spouses, Jill Biden said, bring experience and adaptability to the workforce that cannot be learned anywhere else, the news release said.
“When they get the opportunities that they deserve, our service members can do their duty knowing that those they love most are able to thrive. We all benefit,” she said.
Ben Sessoms covers Fayetteville and education for CityView. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.