Jill Biden Woos Military Families with Plan to Improve Spouse Unemployment

Dr. Jill Biden speaks with sailors and their families
Dr. Jill Biden, the Pre-Commissioning Unit (PCU) Delaware (SSN 791) sponsor, speaks with sailors and their families during a family night at Pier Side Lanes, Feb. 22, 2019. (U.S. Navy photo/Jessica L. Dowell)

The American Dream extends to military families, but more needs to be done to address spouse unemployment and children's access to quality education, former second lady Jill Biden said in a virtual meeting Monday.

As the Joe Biden presidential campaign turns virtual due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Jill Biden appealed to military families in a phone call by presenting her husband's policies and telling the story of her father -- a Navy signalman in World War II who used the GI Bill to go to business school and eventually became a bank president.

"That was my family's American Dream," she said. "Where, in one generation, the son of an immigrant could join the middle class. Where, if you worked hard, you could have a career that made you proud."

But Biden said this prosperity must include military families, adding that she's concerned about the nearly 30% unemployment rate for highly educated military spouses and poor mental health care options for military families.

Related: Military Spouse Employment 101

That's why her husband's policy proposals include the creation of a military spouse entrepreneurship pilot that would provide "micro-grants," mentorship and technical assistance to help military spouses start or grow their small businesses.

To further help military spouses and their careers, the Biden campaign said the candidate wants to create a commission to explore the possibility of extending the time between permanent change-of-station (PCS) moves.

The former vice president is also calling for an end to the "90/10 loophole" that motivates for-profit schools to enroll veterans, service members and military family members so they can receive GI Bill or Tuition Assistance funding that qualifies them for federal funding.

In her call with military families, Jill Biden promised she would make increased mental health care "one of my most important priorities." Specifically, the campaign is proposing increased access to telehealth services, and efforts to recruit and retain behavioral health care providers.

"In many ways, this election is about the simple, but profound truth that the American Dream means nothing if it's not for all Americans," she said. "And that especially includes those who have sacrificed for our nation, those who wear the uniform, as well as the families who stand beside them."

-- Dorothy Mills-Gregg can be reached at dorothy.mills-gregg@military.com. Follow her on Twitter at @DMillsGregg.

Read More: Airman Advances in Quest to Become First Female Special Tactics Officer

Story Continues