First lady Dr. Jill Biden will be in upstate New York on Monday to meet with military families at Fort Drum, a U.S. Army base near Watertown.
Biden will be joined by Deputy Defense Secretary Dr. Kathleen Hicks at Fort Drum, home of the Army’s 10th Mountain Division. According to the White House, the meeting will focus on boosting employment opportunities for military spouses.
The visit is part of Biden’s Joining Forces initiative, which supports military and veteran families, caregivers and survivors. Joining Forces has a few focus areas, such as employment and entrepreneurship, military child education and health and wellbeing.
A survey of active-duty spouses conducted by the Department of Defense in 2019 found that the military spouse unemployment rate is 22%. There are many factors that contribute to the high rate, including frequent moves, differing state licensing requirements, child care and deployments.
Through Joining Forces, Biden aims to partner with governments and the private sector to increase employment opportunities for military spouses.
“We will work with employers to create more flexible, transferable and remote job opportunities for military spouses, as well as increasing resources for those interested in entrepreneurial endeavors,” the initiative states on its website. “We will also ensure that military families are included in the administration’s overall policies aimed at improving economic security for all families.”
Senior members of past administrations, including presidents, have visited Fort Drum. Former President Donald Trump signed the National Defense Authorization Act, an annual defense policy bill, at the Army base in 2018. Former President Barack Obama was there in 2011 after announcing that thousands of troops would be pulled out of Afghanistan. The 10th Mountain Division was the most deployed unit to Afghanistan.
The first lady’s visit comes three months after her husband, President Joe Biden, was in upstate New York. He visited Onondaga Community College near Syracuse to celebrate memory chip maker Micron’s decision to invest $100 billion to build a manufacturing facility in central New York.
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